When You’re Overscheduled & Overwhelmed
Oh wise one,
You’ve given me such great help in the past with my super speshel snowflake baby who is now a toddler with a two month old baby sister. In just the five minutes of writing this, she’s spilled my coffee, pulled the cat’s tail, took off her pull up, took off her shirt and is generally just all over the place.
We recently moved to a new home in the same area and finally got everything nice and settled. And then, the death knell rung. Or it felt like.
She’s ready for potty training. She reliably tells us after she goes and has started with telling before she goes. She can hold it for 3+ hours somehow already. I’m so not ready! Our house is put together but there’s garbage to sort through and things to put in storage. Plus, we’re busy. We have meetings, groups, play times and I have things I want to do on top of that.
Then, she figured out how to climb out of her crib. That was a terrifying bump in the night. I feel awful for my baby and feel like she’s being ignored because toddler crazy happens all the time.
How in the world do I manage big girl bed, potty training and an infant at the same time. I’m fortunate enough that I can stay at home and that her day care provider is totally on board (and also thinks she’s ready). I’m so overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done and have no idea where to start.
Thank you! Any suggestions?
Ok, BREATHE. You can do this.
Step one: Get the big kid bed first…
… as that’s a safety issue. I’ve written many columns about how to ease that transition, but in abbreviated listicle form: Childproof her room completely with the assumption that she WILL wander, get her bedding she’s excited about, let her take books or even some toys to bed at first (anything to keep her interest IN the bed rather than exploring the newfound freedom), and set up a video monitor so you can remotely call her on any shenanigans. (I would tell mine to GET BACK IN BED!! from outside their room; they would freeze and bolt back in bed, clearly thinking I was some kind of wizard. It was awesome.) BUT ALSO! Resist the urge to micromanage her. If she’s in her room and it’s safe and she’s being reasonably quiet and happy…consider that a close-enough win. Even if she conks out on the floor and you need to transfer her back to bed, that’s okay.
Step two: Do not read another word about potty training
… on the Internet (I mean, after you’re done reading MY words, obviously), or listen to another parent’s anecdotal horror story about what a never-ending nightmare it was.
Step three: Get yourself a copy of Toilet Training in Less Than a Day.
This potty training book is 100% the method I’d recommend for any toddler demonstrating your daughter’s level of training readiness. (It’s also, interestingly enough, my preferred method for kids who are masking readiness signs and just being oh-so-stubborn about it. Although for kids like the “Less Than a Day” part is more like “Three to Five (Wet, Messy) Days.”) But for a toddler like yours, complete with a separate daycare provider to support your efforts, I predict potty training won’t be nearly the time-consuming nightmare you’re envisioning. Believe me, having one kid out of diapers will be FABULOUS. You will love it.
(Y’all know cloth diapering was my jam but I’ll never deny that NOT cloth diapering is even better. Handle things yourselves, children!)
Step four: Take a good, hard look at your schedule.
All those meetings, groups and play times/play dates. Maybe those were all doable and fun when you had just one baby, but the number of children you have has changed. So it makes sense that the number of social outings and obligations you commit to needs to change. If you feel guilty because your infant isn’t getting enough attention and interaction with you, believe me, signing her up for yet another Mommy & Me class or play group isn’t necessarily the solution, nor is continuing to make additional commitments that keep you two from just occasionally chilling at home together. We hear a lot about overscheduled children with too many extracurriculars; I solemnly believe a lot of S/WAHMS do the same thing to themselves. (Lest we fail to have an acceptable answer to the dreaded “but what do you DO all day??” question. Ugh. Stuff it.)
Speaking from my own experience in going from one to two kids (and then two to three!)….I get that there’s an impulse to Do Everything The Same. I took my firstborn to Gymboree every week and a playgroup at the park and free play at such-and-such place! We were always going places! And doing all the things! If I don’t do all that for baby number two (while of course, continuing with all the crap I committed baby number one to), I am being unfair! I am not doing it right! But oh dear god there aren’t enough hours in the day and I’m sleeping like garbage and I just want to spend a morning in bed cuddling with my new baby during those couple precious hours of preschool, or strap him to my chest while I vacuum and the toddler watches Blue’s Clues.
Give yourself (and your kids) a break, and permission to have some downtime. Dial back on anything you can, even if it’s just temporarily. Tell yourself it’s just while the weather is cold, or until all the garbage is tossed and stuff put in storage, or until you’re feeling more solid about the potty training. Find a way to recharge during your daycare hours so you’re in a less overwhelmed state when you’re back with your girls. Prioritize those “things I want to do” once in awhile. If you use those hours to work, take breaks to stretch, do some desk exercises, treat yourself to your favorite coffee/tea/lunch. (I also recommend a light therapy box for anyone living in a drab climate who feels even the slightest twinge of seasonal anxiety or winter blues. Life changing! 30 minutes at your desk will do the trick.) If you use those hours just to get other stuff done, BY ALL MEANS take a mental health day without guilt. Do something impulsive and not-scheduled. Make a short, realistic to-do list every day, and cross things off, one at a time — even (especially?) the stuff that doesn’t feel Big and Overwhelming. “Clean breakfast dishes. Take a multivitamin. Move one thing to storage. Read one chapter of that book Amy made you buy. Read her old column on teaching toddlers how to play nice with a cat. Resist urge to Supermom.”
Done and done. That’s a good day.
Photo source: Depositphotos/Nomadsoul1
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