Toddler and Baby Days: Survival Tips

My shirt was covered in spit up, one arm holding my son who is screaming uncontrollably in his car seat, with my daughter grasping my other hand. Little did the cashier know that his simple, “hi how can I help you?” was the first adult interaction I’d had all day. I almost didn’t know how to respond. He was smiling at me, not judging my greasy, second-day-in-a-row of dry shampoo hair, yoga pants, and baggy shirt – mom appearance. It was 6:30 pm, and we desperately needed to get out of the house for our own sanity. I was going crazy, and my three-year old needed to play, so ice cream at the local Chick-Fil-A it was.

As I sat there, sipping my milkshake, my son drinking his bottle, and my daughter not interested at all in the $3.00 shake I just bought her, tears streamed down my face. I couldn’t help but look around and wonder how everyone else’s day was going? I’m sure it was better than mine. Were they just getting off work to meet their spouse and eat a nice meal together? What adult interaction did they encounter today? Was their car ride full of screaming or Disney Princess music? Or was it quiet and peaceful with music that they actually got to pick and enjoy?

Being a stay at home mom is tough. It’s constantly moving, constantly assisting, constantly wiping bums, constantly holding a newborn, constantly getting spit up on. Your self worth diminishes, and you think, “This is not what I signed up for.” And when you think for a slight second, “today’s the day, I’m actually going to be able to take a nap!” You’re wrong. Because when your brain finally shuts off with all the tasks you still have to accomplish, and you finally close your eyes, your baby suddenly wakes up, wanting to be held in your arms yet again.

It’s a thankless job. But when you do get a “thank you” from your toddler, it was only because you had to remind them. “Mom I need a glass of milk.” “Mom I need to go potty.” “Mom I need help finding my toy.” They constantly need you, constantly dote on you. You’re being touched none stop. Your space is their space. Your drink is their drink.

You feel trapped. Cooped up. Lonely. Worthless. You feel overly depended on, and even sometimes depressed. “How many more hours till my husband gets home?” crosses your brain far too often.

And when you FINALLY get them comfortably settled in after the fifteenth time of them climbing out of bed for that drink of water, you have a moment just to yourself. You have a moment where no one is depending on you, no one is climbing on you, and no one is demanding your attention that very second.

And yet, for whatever reason, you miss them.

You miss the way they call you, “mama.” You miss their slobbery kisses, the random hugs at your legs as you’re doing the dishes. You miss their simple smile that showcases that perfectly placed dimple, and their imagination that amazes you. You miss kissing their bruises and making them feel “all better.” You even miss holding them in your tired arms, because that’s where they feel the most safe and secure.

You long for them.

And for whatever reason, we as mothers cannot wait for that same, exhausting day to happen all over again.

Motherhood is not all daisies and roses. It’s often times messy-hair buns, caffeine every other hour, and mac-n-cheese for dinner. And that’s ok! We have the greatest job on earth, to care and love unconditionally for out little ones. They trust us most. And that should get us through the day just fine.

Suggestions to get you through your day:

Research shows that getting outside is important not only for children, but for adults as well. I try to get out of the house at least once a day. Not only for my own sanity, but for my children’s as well. Yes, often times it’s such a hassle getting them out the door, but once we get out, we come home in a much happier mood. Every single time.

According to a study done by WebMD, getting outside “…may increase levels of a natural antidepressant in the brain. A new study shows that the brain produces more of the mood-lifting chemical serotonin on sunny days than on darker days.”

There are also so many health and developmental benefits that come to children who play outside. According to Allyson Hepp, a care.com author, playing outside improves vision, promotes social skills, increases attention span, reduces stress, and increases vitamin D levels.

Wintertime can especially be challenging to get outside. I’ve found that getting out of the house in general increases mine and my child’s mood.  Looking at toys at a toy store, playing at in indoor play structure, visiting family – anything!

I encourage you to get out of the house, and see if that improves your mood, and helps your day! It doesn’t matter what your wearing, how much spit up is on your shirt, and if you’ve showered or not.

Just do it!

Sources:

Allyson Hepp Article: https://www.care.com/c/stories/4178/5-health-benefits-of-kids-playing-outside/

WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20021205/unraveling-suns-role-in-depression

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