Where is the time for me?

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I have no time to myself.

I kind of expected that in the early days with a second baby, but you know what? It’s not Rory that demands all my attention and energy. Rory might be the easiest baby that ever existed.

During the day, I can’t sit down and concentrate on anything, because Arlo (rightfully so) demands my attention. During the evenings I can’t because Rory isn’t going to sleep until 9 or 10, and because Sam would like us to spend time together (rightfully so). Arlo stopped napping a long time ago so there is no break for me, all day – this can be really, really gruelling.

I get told off for being a bit vacant and unresponsive with Arlo during the bedtime hour. Once everyone is in bed, I get told “All you ever do is stare at your phone”. I notice Sam doing the same things too, after all, we are only human and there’s only so much whiney, demanding toddler a person can take, but I decide not to start a fight. I guess the point trying to make is that I feel like whatever I do, I can’t win.

There is no time to dedicate to working out how to earn more money – things are OK now, but we will soon be into severe budgeting hell again.

Time for hobbies? Forget it.

There is no time to update my sorely neglected business blog.

There is a long list of things to write on this blog, but there is no time.

There is no time to watch the TV programs I like without feeling guilty that it’s inappropriate for Arlo or that I’m boring Sam to death.

There is no time to take a time out from thinking about the fact that there is no time, because there is no time.

I need to give Sam, and our relationship, time. I need to give our children time. But where is the time for me?

When the weekend rolls around I’m relieved that it’s not only down to me to provide the constant, all-day stimulation. And then the weekend is over before I know it.

I feel like I shouldn’t be writing this. Because what did I expect by having two children? But I don’t think it’s about having two children, I think it’s about the terrible twos.

Aside from 4-11 months old when sleep was a massive problem for Arlo, 2-3 years has been the most demanding stage for me. I’ve hesitated writing this because I feel guilty at even saying it out loud, or having Arlo read it later on, but I’m going to say it anyway. Having a constantly talking, attention-demanding, tantruming, potty-training two year old with me AT ALL TIMES is draining… is exasperating….is a lot of things.

Here’s a typical day in the life for me at the moment. (Except Sam does sometimes kindly let me watch big brother in the evenings, we do not always ignore each other in favour of our phones, and sometimes I manage to find time to write blog posts about there being no time). PS. Sam is not a heartless bastard. These are just examples of how a badly-timed comment can unintentionally hit you where it hurts.

6.30am I hear Arlo crying. Moaning about something or other. Yet again, it’s a grumpy start to the day.

6.45am Sam brings Arlo in to our bed. If we get downstairs now, we could have breakfast and be washed and dressed before Rory wakes. Arlo continues moaning and wakes Rory up.

7am Arlo doesn’t want breakfast, he wants a snack. Arlo follows me around the kitchen wailing.

8am I get Rory ready. Arlo doesn’t want to go to playgroup. Arlo doesn’t want to stay home and play with trains. I get myself ready, Arlo wants to come upstairs. Arlo wants to go downstairs. Arlo wants to come upstairs.

9.30am Playgroup. Arlo is happy unless someone else has a toy he wants. Rory sleeps. I do that thing that i swore i never would and absent-mindedly respond to Arlo’s chatter without really listening. I catch eyes with another mother. Are they wondering why I am looking at my phone rather than playing with my toddler?

11am I am starving. Too early for lunch. Rory is sleeping, chances are he’ll be awake at lunchtime, delaying my food until even later. So I eat biscuits, just in case I don’t get a chance to eat anything else for another three hours.

11.10am
“Mama, RORY’S AWAKE!”
“Arlo he’s trying to go to sleep, let’s leave him alone.”
“MAMA, HE’S AWAKE! COME AND SEE, MAMA. ARE YOU COMING?? LOOL MAMA, HE’S AWAKE! RORY’S AWAKE!!”

11.15am Arlo refuses to move from his highchair until lunch is served.

11.20am I remember the conversation I had with Sam about wondering whether we were doing enough to engage Arlo and encourage him out of his constant whinging. Rory is asleep. I focus on Arlo and suggest we do something he asked me to do yesterday when I was busy with Rory. He doesn’t want to play with me. He doesn’t want to do anything.

11.30am I feed Rory and watch as Arlo sits silently in his highchair, staring into space.

12pm Arlo refuses to eat the lunch I’ve made. He has a yogurt and gets down from the table.

12.30am Arlo does not want me to eat my lunch on the sofa. He demands I eat at it at the table. Rory is crying.

1.15pm Rory is happy and I return to my lunch. Arlo asks for a nap. I abandon my lunch again and waste 45 minutes upstairs with a child that refuses to nap anymore.

2pm I call time on this nap fail.

2.15pm Rory needs resettling. Arlo wants me to play pretend cars with him.

2.25pm Rory is asleep. Until Arlo accidentally throws a plastic trumpet into his head.

2.30pm I eat lunch on the sofa in front of home and away. Arlo repeatedly pokes his foot into my arm. Arlo wants me to play pretend cars.

2.35pm I remember a conversation Sam and I had about appropriate TV for Arlo and I feel guilty. What’s the point anyway, all I hear is Arlo, “WHAT ARE THEY DOING, MAMA? ARE THEY AT HOSPITAL? ARE THEY ON THE BEACH? THEY WANT TO GO TO THE CAFE”.

2.45pm “Can you pick Rory up, Mama. Pick Rory up. He wants to be picked up.”

3pm I put Cbeebies on. Arlo is quiet. I feed Rory.

3.10pm Sam sends me a picture of the clutter on the dining room table with the caption “this is getting out of hand”

3.30pm
IS IT A BEE OR A FLY, MAMA?
“It’s a fly”
“A BEE OR A FLY, MAMA?”
“A fly”
“IS IT A BEE OR A FLY? BEE OR A FLY?”

4pm Arlo wants to play trains. Arlo doesn’t want to play trains. Arlo is incapable of doing anything himself and must cry every time something goes wrong with his train track.

4.15pm I ask Arlo if he’s SURE he doesn’t need the potty, for the millionth time that day. Rory poos. Arlo poos on the floor. I spend the next 45 minutes dealing with poo.

5pm I am starving. Rory enters his wakeful period and will want to feed from now until 9.45pm

5.45pm After 15 mins of dealing with Arlo’s whinging, Sam makes a half-joke about wishing he was still at work.

6pm Arlo doesn’t want this dinner. This dinner is a bit rubbish for him. He wants his other nice dinner.

6.15pm Sam thinks the key to Arlo’s whininess is naps.

8pm Arlo is in bed. Either asleep or not yet asleep, but at least in bed. I am starving

9pm We eat the dinner Sam has made. Rory cries. Sam switches on football or some cooking show that I have no interest in.

9.15pm I get ready to rant to Sam about my non-event of a day, and how sometimes I think I might go insane if I had only toddler conversations 24/7, day in day out. But Sam is looking at his phone and making the noises he makes when I know he’s not listening.

9.45pm I’ve just got Rory to sleep. For the first time all day, my hands are unoccupied and my brain space is free. I think about working on some images, or writing a blog post that’s been in my head for a week. But I’m knackered and just want to go to bed.

2am Feed Rory

4am Feed Rory. He is restless until 5.30am. I know I don’t have long to sleep, is there any point?

6.30am I hear Arlo crying.

I love him, I really do. I love his clever thoughts and his cheeky smile. I love seeing him grow and change. I love that he has a real thirst for stimulation. For every 10 frustrating and demanding moments there is one where he surprises me with his wit, kindness, or cleverness.

Of course I love him. But am I allowed to admit my selfish thoughts from time to time?

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Chloe

Sorry About The Mess documents the life of London blogger and photographer, Chloe, and her young family. Sorry About The Mess is a personal lifestyle and parenting blog.

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About Chloe

Sorry About The Mess documents the life of London blogger and photographer, Chloe, and her young family. Sorry About The Mess is a personal lifestyle and parenting blog.

Comments

  1. I love your honesty!

    I’m right there with you, with hunting for me time. I’m currently on day 14 without washing my hair! UGH!

    • It’s always thinking about ourselves that comes last, isn’t it? So many times I’ve got the boys ready and have been about to leave the house before realising I’m not even out of my pyjamas.

  2. No time to write a proper comment (ha) but… I get it. Don’t wait, prioritise you, even if it’s just a break for an hour one weekend. Get Sam to take the boys out even if they just walk around the block 5 times. You will go mental otherwise.

    • I’ve done that a few times on the odd occasion where we’ve had a non-busy weekend, but I feel like I’m wasting my weekend time and I just want to be with them. Or I feel like I should be clearing the washing up pile instead of doing something just for me. Then after the weekend is over I wish I’d had more ‘me-time’.

  3. Catriona Anderson says:

    I could have written this! Everything about it is my life, my boys are 31 months and 4 months and we are going through the same trials. Toddler won’t eat, doesn’t want to do something then cries the place down because he didn’t get to do it! Hubby comes home from work, looks at the mess then plays with his phone all night! Glad to know I’m not alone, oh and just after I’d finished reading this my toddler decided to go over to my sleeping baby, who had not had a decent sleep all day, and shout WAKE UP ALASDAIR, WAKE UP! Cue tears from Alasdair and me! I wouldn’t change them for the world though.

  4. Think all of us know how you feel. I found routine is the key as in set nap times, feeding times, play time etc. Have helped me anyway. Arlo is testing you and will be alright with you saying this is how things are…. Yes it might take a few days but do the same at the same time everyday and you’ll see a calm day. Try and let Rory nap in his bed so you and Arlo are on your own. And when you make lunch and Arlo says no to it just let him get hungry, he is big enough to understand it and will get that you should eat when it’s in front of you. Hope it helped you to write the post, sometimes that’s all it takes:)

    • Yes, I usually find after a good old blog vent I feel a bit better : ) We have a pretty set routine (aside from nap times for Arlo, which are non existent), and he knows what times so-and-so an activity happens, like lunch, play groups, or snack time, but it doesn’t seem to stop him whining for things when it’s not the set time.

  5. This is such an honest post. Of course you are allowed to want me time and be honest. Toddlers are hard work, no matter how much we love them. And dining room
    Clutter is the way forward, only half my dining table is usable! X

  6. Oh Chloe, my boys are a similar age to yours and we have days like this too. It can be relentless. Through in to the mix that we live abroad and I have to negotiate everything in my very basic German, and some days it’s all I can do not to through my hands up in the air and cry. My saving grace is that on most days, CK takes a nap. This gives to two hours to slow things down even if the baby is awake. Without that time, I’d go stir crazy. But I’m led to believe that it gets easier :-)

    • That sounds very stressful. Nap time is precious, I really think I wouldn’t feel the same right now if Arlo still napped – sometimes all you need is an hour to yourself

  7. Brilliant!! I too could have written this myself. So good to hear others feel it too!

  8. I really, REALLY understand how you feel. You might know that I have 2 boys similar ages to yours and I have had so many moments of feeling like this. You’ve hit the nail on the head with your description, it really is grueling some days. Bean is 7 months old now so we’re a little further down the line than you guys and I can honestly say things have eased off gradually over the last few months. It’s not that the boys have changed massively in themselves (although Bean is over the colic that plagued us for months) but everyone has sort of found their place a bit more in the new dynamic of our family. My eldest is also going through the terrible twos. It’s an impossible juggling act when he’s having a bad day and Bean wont stop crying. The only advice I can give is to allow yourself the down days. Don’t beat yourself up over it, because it IS BLOODY HARD WORK. The bad/sad/grueling days aren’t a reflection of how we feel about our kids, they are just part of life with children. I keep sane by reminding myself (often) that it’s temporary, and that (hopefully) in about a years time I’ll be able to go out and have a meal/go to the cinema/have a drink like everyone else! It may make you feel a little better to read this (I wrote a very similar post a while ago):
    http://littleeandbean.com/little-e/a-normal-day-lest-i-forget/

    • Very true about it only being temporary. I think sometimes it just builds up and I need to vent, but I know it won’t last forever.

  9. Oh Chloe, this has opened the floodgates for me. I could of written this myself but like you I get the guilts. It’s so hard to admit that sometimes (a lot of the time) the thing that you love the most is also the thing that frustrates the crap out of you. Please don’t ever feel guilty for being honest, kids are bloody HARD!

    Frankie is just like Arlo and can spend whole weeks entirely unresponsive and not engaging. I have no idea where to even start to get her talking to me or playing. I feel like I spend all day telling her she can’t use the bloody iPad and that she’s watched too much flipping Peppa Pig. I countdown the hours until her 2 days at nursery and then spend all day she’s there feeling bad that she’s not at home with me.

    I’ve got no advice I just wanted to say that I feel it too, lets hope something clicks with them and they snap out of it (and stop using their younger siblings as a moving target) xx

    • Oh yes, I completely forgot to include the hours that Arlo spends begging me to watch YouTube, or playig apps on our phones. Two year olds are very frustrating. I’m quite surprised actually, as I stupidly figured that the more verbal they get, the less demanding they are.

  10. I HEAR YOU!!! I could almost have written this word for word, have been nodding my head along as I’ve been reading it. I think so many of us are in the same boat at this stage (baby is now 6 months, toddler approaching 2.5 years and of course I love them with all my heart, soul, bones, but it is HARD WORK!). Hang in there, it’ll get better and maybe even a bit easier in time xxx

    • I’m hoping things might get better when he starts preschool next month. He’s just desparate for more attention and stimulation than I can currently offer every day.

  11. First of all: That was awesome. Thank you for itemizing the typical baby-and-toddler situation so clearly and honestly.

    Second: It DOES get better. Mine are now a month away from turning 4 and 2, and as I look back on that first year with two under three, I (a) shudder, and (b) give myself a round of applause for surviving. It’s HARD. It’s BUSY. It’s thankless, exhausting, and definitely pushes you to the limits.

    But then, suddenly, it’s all over a year ago, and things are actually pretty good. They play together, and the bigger one helps the littler one, and so you find this magical stuff called TIME FOR YOURSELF. Admittedly, it comes in short bursts interspersed with having to deal with “he broke my princess crown!” and “she push da bubba!” but still… it comes.

    Breathe in, breathe out, and hang on. Right now you may love them with white knuckles and gritted teeth. The love gets easier. Better stuff is coming.

    • Thank you. Juggling the two is very busy, but kind of how I expected (slightly easier if anything). It’s the amount of attention and stimulation that an almost-three-year-old needs that is the hardest thing.

  12. I know you may not believe me now, but it does get easier. I found last year with Alex particularly hard when he was 2-3 years old, I put it down to me being pregnant but I think that just added to the situation looking back on it. He’s still demanding now, but does occupy himself too. As for having two kids I found once Sam was around 3-4 months old I had a bit more free time and eased into it all a bit more-still get the odd occasion when Alex likes to make a big noise and wake Sam from his much needed sleep though which is VERY frustrating-sometimes I try and play with Alex for a short while as I have just put Sam to bed/nap as it distracts him from noticing he’s asleep! xx

  13. Oh so very true – clearly I’m not the only one who could also have written this! I think the real low point was when potty training and tantrums coincided with a new baby who cluster fed 7.30 (Kitty’s bedtime) until midnight. It does get easier so hang in there – the turning point for us was when Elma started to go to bed a little earlier and at the same time became a little bit more robust so that she and Kitty could interact without maternal heart failure. I’ll also admit to phoning my husband for a little perspective from time to time – when you’re not in the moment the fact that you spent half an hour calming a sobbing toddler who can’t believe that her name begins with F for froggie not G for giraffe seems funny, at the time the wailing was utterly grinding.

    I do find that if I haven’t made a little me time I get a lot grumpier and stressed so I prescribe myself a little creative time as a mental multivitamin!

  14. Bit late to comment on this but i am just visiting your (beautiful!) blog for the first time after you commented on mine.

    Alot of what you say here really resonates with me and my days can be just as frustrating as this. I have a just turned 3 year old son and a 6 month old son and the eldest is hideously jealous. It’s just getting a little bit better now but it has been 6 MONTHS! Selfish little buggers aren’t they ;)

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