A while ago, I was asked if Miss A has made me feel angry before and I could honestly say that although I’ve been frustrated or annoyed before with her, I’ve never actually felt angry. At that point we only had her though. Everything was still manageable with just one kid. I only needed to respond to one little person. I didn’t have to be in two places at one time.
HOWEVER, when Miss E entered the picture, everything changed. One day the baby was crying and Miss A was screaming repeatedly for me…and I suddenly felt a surge of rage go through me. It was very shocking. Somehow having two kids instantly turns you into the Incredible Hulk. I would never hurt my kids but I suddenly had greater compassion for those parents who do snap. Toddlers also seem to have the wondrous ability to be extra annoying when the baby is screaming. If you’re about to have a second kid I have to warn you about this- you will feel emotions you’ve never felt before and I don’t mean the warm and fuzzy kind.
The face of a screamer
Handling kids day in and day out while trying to maintain the state of your house, keep your laundry pile down (it’s like it’s alive or something) and keep food on the table is no easy feat. I can tell you I feel every day now with two young ones with two drives me just a little mad.
It’s taken a while to get on top of my emotions but now whenever I feel angry and overwhelmed, I tell myself:
Anger is a normal human emotion. It’s okay to admit that some days you would much prefer it if you never had kids. We all feel that way sometimes.
It’s okay if someone has to scream/cry a little. It won’t hurt your kids if you can’t pacify them immediately. You’re not a failure if one or both kids are screaming at the top of their lungs or having a meltdown. You can’t be in two places at one time. You’re doing the best you can. If everyone wants you at the same time, someone just has to wait! Just tackle one thing at a time.
Don’t lose your marbles. Steady your breathing and make a conscious decision to not lose your head. Tell yourself they are not intentionally trying to piss you off- all babies scream and toddlers are still learning to cope with the world in their own way…It’s tough but always maintain a calm, firm tone when talking to the older kid(s), even if they’re being super whiny. I always have to be very conscious of this- it’s too easy to just snap at them when they’re being totally irrational and you’re feeling overwhelmed but that just gets you nowhere. I always try to be compassionate and understanding with my toddler but also use a very firm tone when telling her she has to wait her turn.
It’s a good day if everyone is fed and dressed. When you’re looking after kids at home, it can feel like you’re doing everything and getting nowhere at the same time. My basic goals for each day is keeping everyone alive and fed and doing the laundry. Everything else is a bonus.
Prep the toddler for baby screaming. One thing I do like about a 3-year age gap is Miss A can understand everything that’s going on. I always try to prep her for the predictable times Miss A is going to scream e.g. the car or bedtime and praise her for being patient and staying calm. We also offer her earphones or earplugs. Sometimes it helps to wear them yourself too when the baby is on a crying marathon!
Remember- this too will pass. One day you’re barely going to remember what they were like as babies and toddlers. Honestly, I’ve already forgotten exactly how Miss A was like as a baby. All I remember was she was difficult but I seem to have blocked out the details. Now she sleeps through the night and all the breastfeeding and rocking feels like a very distant memory even though in reality it wasn’t that long ago. So just stay calm and soldier on, soldier on…One day everything will be so much easier.
Of course, if you’re having real trouble dealing with major anger issues or feel you’re going through postnatal depression, I urge you to talk to someone- your partner, a friend, maternal and child health nurse, general practitioner (your local doctor), depression hotline etc. You don’t have to deal with this alone and you also don’t want to leave it untreated lest you do something you’ll regret. Help is there! Just reach out.