5 things to consider with a crawler and toddler
Since crawling is such a short time in a baby's life, I thought I better blog this quick while I'm still right in the middle of this phase. Crawling is one of the hardest phases for me personally because I get easily frustrated when they are easily frustrated, and holding a 20 pound wiggle worm that flings drool all over the place is just not the kind of baby love that I really get into, LOL. That being said, I do love the messes and the precious personality of my crawler right now, just a challenging time for now. So here are some things that I've tried, read and found in order to enjoy this time while it lasts because before I know it, it will be long gone and I'll have two runners!
5. Anticipate. So, you are the parent. Which means, you know your children better than they know themselves and way better than anyone else knows them, so use the resource that is within you! Become a student of your children, so much so, that just a specific tone of their whines gives you a clue as to what they want verses what they need. I would bet that most of the time this comes naturally for most moms, but I have had to really tune into the differences of my kids in order to make sense of all the variations of cries, whines, laughs and precious looks on their faces. I still tend to get my older son settled into an activity before tending my baby, just because he is a lot more predictable, and easier to please. (most of the time, unless we are having a toddler moment, if you know what I mean ;) ) Thankfully, we have finally reached, what I call the "puff" phase with my crawler, where he can sit in the high chair and slowly eat a few puffs while I get his meal prepared, without having the frustration rise in him as the prep time lingers with me. I have also fed Luke (my crawler) before the rest of us eat, so he is happy and full while we eat our dinner and there is a little time for his food to settle before it's back on the floor for crawling time.
4. Nurture their relationship. I try my best to let my two boys interact, even if there is a little risk of one hurting the other. Actually, my youngest, Luke has hurt my oldest more than the other way around which at first surprised me, but the more I think about it, it makes sense. Mostly just with nails that have gotten too long, or batting hands around that have accidentally turned into slaps. But I do think Luke may be more aggressive than Noah in personality anyway. They love each other so much, and one of my absolute favorite things is to see them in the morning, because they are so excited to see each other! I usually get Noah up first and then we walk together into Luke's room to get him, and Luke always has a huge smile on his face, ready to see his brother. Noah usually squeals with laughter and says "OOK, OOOK! (which means Luke, Luke!)"
3. Prep for outings. I think it is really important to take outings regardless of how challenging it might be. I think they need it to be socialized, I need to it to see other people outside of my house, and we all need the fresh air and sunshine for our attitudes and mental health! I typically have snacks, sippy cups, diapers, wipes, one extra outfit each, and a few toys with me AT ALL TIMES. I've transitioned to one big Mary Poppins bag instead of diaper bags, because it is just too much to keep track of for me! Unless I am leaving the kids somewhere with friends or at church, that is the only time I pack separate bags for both kids.
2. Sync naps if possible. My youngest has two naps a day, a short morning and long afternoon while my oldest just has one afternoon nap. I do wake my baby up from his morning nap in order to sync their afternoon naps. This really does help me have some time to myself, which as an introvert I need daily. Also, I have started doing a short workout at the beginning of nap time to relieve some stress and work on getting back to my normal size...(honestly still working on it! Hopefully I'll get there, I'm trying not to put a deadline on it) Days that their naps don't sync are probably the most challenging just due to the energy it takes to keep both active, happy and quiet enough NOT to wake the other up.
1. Don't take yourself too seriously. Wow, this one has been really hard for me because I tend to be a perfectionist and a control freak. I want to do my best always, and when I feel run down the first thing I start to do is beat myself up about my lack of motherhood skills...oh yeah, and I start comparing myself which leads to a dark path that I do not recommend. The days that I try to laugh and just enjoy the messes are the most successful days. Messes come in all shapes and sizes, from physical toy explosions, to spit up, spills and other stains, to emotional messes of myself and both babies. From separation anxiety and teething to trying out independence and defiance, to me just getting frustrated at the lack of results of my hard work, all of it to say is worth it in the end. I document all of it, the cute, the messy and sometimes even the tantrums. We can look back one day and say, "See, here we thought we wouldn't make it through, but we did! So now, we can take on the next challenge, and by the grace of God, live and learn through it."
To all the moms out there, with Mother's Day coming up, just know that your hard work is worth it. You are making a difference. Mothers have a special gift of giving life, sustaining life, and encouraging life worth living in others. What an amazing blessing it is to be given the gift of motherhood!