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Are two kids more frustrating than one?

What happened to my patience?

I’m finding I keep asking myself that question a lot lately. I’m an extremely tolerant person who happens to pride herself with the ability to stay as cool as a cucumber.

I’ll never forget when  a friend’s mom complimented me on my patience with my two year old following her baby shower. I was about four months pregnant, and I don’t even remember my daughter giving me a hard time at the party. I’m aware of when she’s being unruly, and I keep her under control. But I answered her every question, request, pondering and plea. Most times down at her level, and with poise.

She was my main focus, the center of my attention. For her, I have impeccable patience–Or use to. Since having a second child I’m finding less and less gentle responses to my children’s never-ending desires.

silly girlMaybe it’s because my daughter is now a threenager. That could be it. She’s a walking, talking ball of sass that seems to always have me on the verge of tears–either from laughter or anger. But another part of me feels like balancing TWO kids is what’s sending me over the edge. Let me explain…

First of all, I’m not sure what kind of alternate universe I’ve been in, but I pictured my two kids blissfully entertaining each other while I did things like used the bathroom in peace. Boy was I wrong! Now, the only difference is there are playmats, toys next and a baby crammed in with me, in addition to the preschooler making water experiments in the sink. Surely the quiet bathroom scene must come after three kids, right?

With one–Just my daughter–I was focused on her, all the time. My attention wasn’t divided nearly as much. If she needed to wait a few moments while I did something it usually wasn’t for long, and overall, I think I just had a little more energy back then.

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(Lil J’s Top and Jeggings: Target; Bow and Bowtie: Amazing Grace Bowtique; Big T’s Top: JC Penny; Shorts: Thrifted)

Now with a little brother, she has to wait more often and her patience too, seems to be wearing thin. Sometimes she asks a dozen times before she gets what she wants (granted, it’s in the space of 60 seconds). Just yesterday morning she wailed in frustration because she wanted me to turn on a TV show for her. Her brother was in the other room with her dad, and I was just sitting with her, listening to her, I didn’t understand the hysterics.

“You don’t need to talk to me that way, that is not how you ask for something you want,” I explained, my composure still in tact. After all, it was only 8am.

She took a moment, accessing my expression (which was much more firm than my words) and apologized.

“Ok, I’ll try again,” she said. And she proceeded to do one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen her do.

As if she pushed a personal reset button, she turned to face a different direction “I’ll start over… I look this way,” she said away from me, rewinding the clock ten seconds in her mind. Then she turned to face me and started again slowly in a soft voice with puppy dog eyes “Mommy, can you please turn on Dora for me?”

I can’t get enough of moments like those (after the drama reboot), yet I feel like I’m missing some due to split attention.

Most nights I’m getting the kids in bed by myself. My current routine is so put Lil’ J to bed first, after her own set of stories, songs and prayer, then nurse her brother to sleep. But I’m thinking of reversing that to give us a little more one-on-one time.

I’m trying to carve out special big sister time, but Big T doesn’t have a regular nap time yet, so we’re still sorta playing it by ear. Thank goodness she loves her brother and doesn’t get jealous.

sleeping-preschooler

This may sound ridiculous, but when they’re both asleep, I find myself wondering why I ever lose it in the first place. I have a clear head, and get to hit my own “reboot” button as I watch them peacefully snooze. A few Zzzzs seems to put everything back in perspective.

So admittedly, I’m losing my temper, when before I could almost always keep it contained. I expect my daughter to know better because she can go to the bathroom by herself and speak in complete sentences–In English no less. But I also need to remember she’s three. Just six months ago she was the sole center of my world and now she’s sharing that spotlight with a little guy equally as wonderful. In the end, tantrums to tantrums, meltdowns to meltdowns, I’d say she’s handling it better than I am. But I’ll get there. I’ll learn, readjust, and hopefully soon I’ll be that mom again that gets people asking “How do you stay so calm?”


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Jessica says:

Totally out of curiosity – do you still have your dog? We have two dogs, plus our 3-year old and that can get overwhelming. It’s hard to think about adding another kid into the mix sometimes.

Even though I only see your kids through the pictures you post, it appears that they are very happy kiddos (and lil’ J seems to be very smart). You’re doing great! Don’t beat yourself up; just do the best you can.

Oh my goodness yes, the dog… He deserves a post of his own one of these days. Haha.

Snoop. He’s still here. And loved by most all 😉 poor Snoop. He’s had quite the fall from grace. But he’s happy too. I think.

Val says:

THIS. YES. This is totally where I’m at right now. I have a 6 year old pomeranian I feel like has been getting neglected for a better part of these last 7 months since my daughters been born and I definitely cannot picture adding another human child to the mix. Even at the request of my mom. Some days I feel like I’m just barely hanging on to my sanity, having another would be for everyone else and not me. So yea, I think one is where I’ll stay 🙂

Beth says:

This is a really interesting one for me as the hubby and I consider a second. It’s hard to manage even one sometimes, and yet we find ourselves wanting… and I love to hear perspectives from folks who are willing to share observations about the good AND the bad parts 🙂

Don’t let me scare you out of it.

Andrea says:

The same thing happened to me when I had my 2nd child. I think because someone needs something every minute we are together. It’s just constant and I get tired. But I try to remind myself that this moment won’t last forever and they won’t be little like this forever which is both a good thing and also bittersweet.

You’re so right. That’s the other thing I’m always doing… Saying “he won’t be little forever.” Yes, he! I’m enjoying spoiling this baby cause he’s growing so fast and forgetting his sister is growing just as quickly. Gotta savor that too. Even with all the drama.

You are so not alone! I had to laugh at this post because I can relate – especially to the “Why aren’t they entertaining each other?” concept. 😉 I told my husband, “She needs a friend and playmate, we can’t have an only child.” So I was thinking the same thing. Now I have a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old (he’s almost 3) and I have thought I was going to lose my mind some days! Did you know they don’t just play together, they also fight? Just wait. 😉 This is really the fun time, having an infant. 🙂 I miss that. But really, your daughter will be past the three-nager stage before you know it and be your little helper. Emma helps me sooo much, and willingly even! A few times I have burst into tears when a day was particularly hard (and I don’t cry easily) and both kids have run over and hugged me, wanted to do everything for me, picked up the house, asked how they could help… yes, those moments make it all worth it. It makes me think, “Whew, I must be doing something right!” You have some wonderful moments to look forward to! Keep that in mind. 🙂 And feel blessed that you can fit all that stuff in your bathroom because our bathroom is so small two people in it is crowded! lol

Also, it’s worth practicing keeping your cool now because when that little dude turns 2/3 you will get a run for your money if he’s anything like mine! That testosterone thing makes the terrible 2’s REALLY exciting! ; )

I can totally relate and so true!

Jen, you are doing great!

Quiana says:

Still only 1 but I can relate especially with my daughter being the same age (loved the threenager piece btw!). You really touched on something when you mentioned the alone time; I went to a fantastic parenting seminar my local moms’ group held earlier this week about how to get your kids to cooperate without losing your cool, threatening or punishment. I learned so much and 2 days in it’s working! One of the best things they said you could do especially if you have more than 1 kid is schedule uninterrupted alone time and set a timer to mark the time instead of the other child who may interrupt with a cry or need. So if you know you can schedule time during the baby’s nap that’s 45 minutes, schedule the timer for 15 if you know there may be some push back to ending the “special time” with you. Definitely tips I intend to use in the future!

SPE says:

Oh girl, I love your babies, but this makes me even more convinced to stick with one! Lol! I have zero patience to begin with, so Ive learned to have patience, but I think two would unravel me. Im sad we missed you guys when you were here.

Iiona says:

I think after three it’s just common place and you don’t seem to notice it anymore. Or at least I don’t, ha! I’ve had mothers of single children apologizing to me and I’m completely confused because I have no idea what they are apologizing to me for. Turns out their child was screaming in my ear, hit me, bumped into me, wouldn’t stop talking while they were talking to me… all of which I didn’t notice. I’m not going to say it was easy and that I didn’t have meltdowns because I did and rarely still do. My children’s age differences are 5yrs between the two oldest and 14 months between the younger two.

To me the hardest was the 5 years age difference, the 14 months was easier because I was already in the baby mode and so it was just a continuation of that mode. But the 5 years, yeah, it was different and hard and my son had a lot of temper tantrums and meltdowns and my patience disappeared for about 6 months. Anyways, long story short. It is temporary and you will look back on these years later and laugh. 🙂

Ack. You make me nervous of what’s to come when #2 gets here in March. I’m sure you’re holding it together better than you think you are. We’re always our own worst critic.

Balancing two kids can definitely be a bit frustrating at times, but I have to remind myself when Moo is calling my name for the millionth time to take deep breaths. I go back in my mind and see a mental of picture of the day she was born and some of that frustration melts away. I’m working on having more patience these days because I realize that my kids are worth it. I don’t either of them look back and think of mommy as always being frustrated when they were growing up. Life is too precious and too wonderful for that!

subflexa says:

Do you think staying at home has anything to do with it? You are around both kids significantly more than you were before. Sometimes it’s easier to be patient if you have to be patient for less time. That being said, I’m loving 1 kid. Responding to her needs is a full time job and I’m quite happy not to have a balancing act.

Kathy C. says:

I can’t speak from experience…because when I was the older sibling dealing with the new younger sister…I was 4. But I think what you’re all going through is rather normal. And you’ll learn what works best for your family dynamic. Your daughter sounds like she knows what’s expected from her…hence the adorable drama reset. She’s just adjusting though. 🙂

Natalie says:

Wow….I can relate %100 to your article. I have three kids, 10, 4, and a 1.5 year old. It’s hard to balance everything and becomes very overwhelming. I remember when it was just my daughter and I had all the patience in the world. Even after having my 4 year old son I was able to manage pretty well. But now….it feels like total chaos. The only advice I can give is just to take it one day at a time. And when able to, carve out some one on one time with just your daughter. By the way, if you don’t mind me asking, what do you use in your daughters hair? My daughter has very similar hair and your daughter’s hair looks great!

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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