I've got two kids, an infant and a 2.9 year old. I'm having trouble figuring out how to find the balance of attachment parenting while also trying to get my needs marginally met (a tiny bit of alone time) along with doing the chores and such around the house. My toddler is a whiny crying mess lately, she's refused to nap for a while now and we've moved her bedtime up but I think she still needs a nap, but I can lead the child to her bed, but I can't exactly make her sleep. I've started quiet time. I do need to get some chores done like laundry and cooking. I've otherwise reduced our schedule as much as I possibly can as to required activities. But if I spent all the time comforting my crying and whining toddler she wanted I'd never get anything done, nevermind meet the baby's needs too. I hate leaving her crying, but she is constantly crying lately over disappointing but non-fixable stuff (no you can't wear that clothes that you just peed on, I have to wash them first)
Balancing kids and chores while attachment parenting?
I have an answer ladies....drumroll......Wait until they get older, it gets easier. I didnt have a clean anything until my youngest was out of nursing, diapers, and tot time.
It magically changed like a fairy came in and waved her wand...Literally when my first nursed for the first 2 years and then a year later, we had her sister. Once they are older it all falls back into place. Now they are both in school and have their own way of doing things I have a cleaner house and wow we have our marriage back again. But yes it was about 3-5 years of untidy, mommmeeee, momeeee, nurse all day sometimes, maybe deal with a sick kid or a child not napping and then they get older. And you will either work it or have another!
well for me the answer was the very definition of balance.
it means different things for different people.
i was single with a high needs baby for whom even one inch was too much space between us.
most of the days i had a clean but crappy house. cluttered. sometimes i ate out of paper plates because it was easier.
but one thing i certainly knew. always. was always sure of.
i NEVER EVER wanted to have regrets about the time i spent with my child.
and so the answer is - something has to give. you decide which one.
time with your child or a clean house like the kind you kept before baby/children.
the only part i have a problem with...
are other mothers....
they feel terrible if their house is not spic and span.
and i try to tell them HEY i KNOW. i have lived it. your mess does NOT bother me one bit.
but no they feel terrible. and i think - what a waste of emotion. however i have been in their place and felt the same way.
Geez, I don't think AP means you have to spend all your time catering to a whiny toddler. I tell mine I don't like to hear whining, and I am going to go in another room with the baby for now. I will come back/give her what she wants when she stops whining and asks nicely.
EasterBellsMom: Figuring out how to wear the baby on my back has changed my life, for real. Mine isn't HN but she does need to be held all the time. She's totally happy on my back watching me wash dishes or whatever though. I'm still working out the kinks in my back carry but I feel super productive compared to before. I wish I'd had this figured out when DD1 was small (I did wear her for chores but only on the front, which is much more limiting).
With my 2 year-old, I play a few minutes and then clean a bit off and on all day. She likes to help and I just keep her talking. But yeah, I can't hold her every single time she says she wants me to because I would hold her all day, so I try to get her interested in something else or show her how she can be with me, grab a hug and still feel secure. We were recently on vacation, so we are just getting beck into the routine.
She naps in the stroller. It fully reclines, and she prefers it, so I let her. Walking around helps her fall asleep. I think if I make her sleep in her bed for nap time, that will be the end of naps. I also do allow some TV. I am just very selective about it and I only do pre-recorded things because they have a definite end. When you turn on whatever channel, there is a tendency to keep it on for too long, at least in my house.
ETA: DH took over dishes during that phase, but he stinks at keeping up. But the Ergo let me put them on my back and get some things done that way.
When it comes to time with child vs time doing chores, I hear all the rhetoric of choosing time with the child, but when I'm home all day there is time for both, you know? I don't feel like I am shortchanging my baby if I let her play on the floor while I do something else. At another time I am playing with her or carrying her around or nursing her or changing her diaper or wearing her as she naps. I just have the one kid and she will play by herself, so it's not too bad actually. I don't feel at all bad about letting her do this. I think sometimes we think AP means you have to be engaged with the kid every second, and I don't believe this. I think it'll vary with the child and the situation.
Have you tried letting your toddler "help" with chores?
With cooking - they can play with water while "washing" the veggies and fruits. Mine loves to "help" putting away dishes from the dishwasher. And doing laundry is such a big event :) ... from getting things ready, then putting them into the washer, then letting them "start" the washer on their own ... It's precious to see their expressions when they manage to do these simple things.
Also, if you can get toy versions of stuff related to chores (toy vacuum, toy broom, toy cookware, etc) - they can play doing chores while you try getting things done.
I agree with the idea that you don't have to have your child in your arms all the time to be AP. And I also think that more mainstream parents must have exactly the same problem. We might sit down and nurse our three year olds who are feeling crabby, but they are probably cuddling, playing with, talking with their three year olds and not getting any cleaning done either.
For the most part, I have, when things are difficult with the kids, just let the house go. At some point, though, I think you (or I) need to get things in a little bit of a balance, or have a dh who will spend a day cleaning or cuddling so you can catch up because a lot of the reason I do housework at all (I am a natural slob and I hate cleaning) is because I think it's good for my kids to have a comfortable home. In our case in recent years (not so true when my older was a baby/toddler) dh has made all the difference. He will jump in and do a couple hours of heavy cleaning and get the house looking put together (it would take me two days to do what he does in two hours, even without a kid hanging onto me). He's also great about taking them both for some chunk of time at least once on the weekend and if he can sometime during the week, too. I am really of the opinion that it is not part of my job description to be fully responsible for the house. At times when dh is very busy at work and I see that he's stressed, I don't want him to feel like he has to spend his very little down time cleaning or even doing hard parenting work, so I do try to pull more weight with housekeeping. But if the kids are in a phase where I'm only getting an hour of down time a day then he needs to step in if he's not overwhelmed with work.
And to complicate matters, I just NEED a bit of time to myself and/or with dh every day. If I can't get it during the day somewhere, I'll stay up until 2 am knitting and watching some goofy show and pay for it the next day. But I NEED it. And I think it actually helps me to handle the house and the kids even when they're being needy.
And another thing... I really do think it's true that we will never regret sitting on the couch with a sleeping baby in arms (of course you must have your laptop or a good book next to you!) even if there's a sink full of dishes. It does pass so quickly! It has been YEARS since my 8 yo fell asleep in my lap and I fear that my 3 yo's days are numbered in that respect.
I had a singleton and twins 17 months apart. (they are 10 and almost-9s now)
You know, I'm going to respectfully disagree with people who say you'll never regret any time you spent with your children. I regret that I did not carve out some time for my own needs at the very beginning. When I was doing what I perceived to be more AP than AP parenting like I thought that All Good Parents should do while ignoring all my needs for even a small amount of down time or to clean up stuff that was really bothering me, what it did was burn me out and make me a pretty crappy parent for awhile later on down the line. Maybe other people are more perfect or zen and can constantly eat the stress and burnout, but I could not and it landed me flat out on my ass. It was not pretty.
If you'd rather snuggle a sleeping baby rather than laundry, then go for it--I got the opportunity for that a lot and don't regret it. However, it really also is okay to put your baby in a bouncy chair and sing/talk to them (even if they fuss) while you scrub the toilets if it's really really bothering you. When I reached and survived my breaking point, I got better at figuring out what I really needed to prioritize and what I could let slide, and that made me happier and more relaxed about EVERYTHING. I think if you suck it up and stuff it so that you can be uber "AP" you run the risk of getting into a state where eventually *everything* bothers you and drives you up a wall; where if you take the time to prioritize yourself in some way (Even if it's just for 5 minutes) each day and allow yourself to do one household task per day that is truly bothering you and would relieve stress if done then that is SO much more worthwhile than ignoring it and feeling guilty about daring to want to focus on something else other than your kids.
Two things that have been true since the dawn of time:
You can't do it all.
If momma's not doing well, neither are her kids.
To that I would add an aphorism from my grandmother:
You can only do so much, even the angels can do no more.
And one more from me:
Toddlers sometimes cry. You cannot (and probably should not) prevent your toddler from crying.
Clearly if they're in pain or real distress, you need to tend to them. But one of the big jobs of a toddler and preschooler is to learn to regulate their emotions. You can't fix everything for them. Dd had a meltdown when she was three because she wanted my right leg to be my left.
So, you as a parent, you have to decide what things you have to do, and what things you can let slide. While our kids were toddlers and young preschoolers our house was cluttered, and sometimes downright dirty. It's really only in the last year or 2 as they've gotten older and better able to help that we can sort of keep up with the dirt. Yesterday, my kids mopped the dining room and kitchen floors while I decluttered a bit. No way that would have happened when they were little. For me, clutter was better than not spending time with my kids. On the other hand, lack of sleep and hunger were worse. Time to collect my thoughts and be alone was also prized. I need those things to recharge. So, at times, I prioritized sleep over spending time with the kids. Or I had dh take the kids on an outing for a couple of hours on a Saturday so I could recharge.
Each parent needs to find their own balance. It's OK to try out something and backtrack when it doesn't work for you. But please don't get down on yourself because you can't do it all. You can't. Humans weren't designed that way. We were designed to live in communities where a lot of these tasks were shared. Cranky toddlers had aunties or older cousins to entertain them while mom tended to the baby. The older siblings/cousins did the housework, supervised by the grandmas. One human cannot replicate this.
meemee, i love reading your posts. you are so good at putting ideas into words!
as to the OP, if hiring a housecleaner isn't an option(and it's never been for me!) then things just wait. we do what has to be done(dinner and laundry for me) and anything extra deserves bragging rights! my oldest two are 17 mths apart and i still remember how it was with two littles! now my kids are almost 17(omg THAT just hit me!!), 15, 9, and 5 mths and i feel so helpless still. my housewas almost perfect when went into labor with this baby. now nothing is clean. well, it's not disgusting, but sooo messy. we had company sunday, and when we found out they were coming, everyone started cleaning! it looked somewhat normal....
the idea of having the toddler "help"...i couldn't stand doing that. it meant having to go behind and cleaning up their helpful mess. even now, i have to go behind my teenagers and redo the dishwasher bc they still don't properly load it after all these years.
just give it time and do what you can!
I have no advice, just some personal perspective.
Early motherhood for me was like getting the flu. Not just a "flu"--the kind that sidelines for 2 days then you are chatting with your BFF about it in the frozen food aisle of the Piggly Wiggly. I mean THE FLU that lays you flat for 2 weeks--if you are lucky.
When you have the flu, the first week is a bust. You are flat on the couch with Oprah droning in the background because you are too weak to lift a paperback and even if you had even a fleeting thought about housework or how stinky you are you just couldn't care less.
The next week, you've got your paperback, Oprah still droning in the background, and you start noticing that the house is a disaster and you seriously need a shower but hell if you have any energy to do anything about it. But you start *noticing* and caring about it. (Not to mention all the cholesterol-drug ads and Medicare ads and City College ads on the tube and you start asking, who the hell am I? But that's off the subject.....)
Then when you are not moving, you feel fine--energetic even and you start *judging yourself* because you really should be doing this stuff but the last time you drove yourself to the store, you got halfway across the parking lot before you discovered that you got yourself in *way* to deep into this errand nonsense. You are fed up with being sick and impatient to get back to normal. But there's not much you can do, as evidenced by your mid-parking lot dilemma regarding whether to soldier on and finish the errand even if it kills you or quit while you are ahead and turn around right then and there and go back home to the couch.
Finally, oh about a month later, you can actually start getting this stuff done.
Did you get the analogy? You keep trying to juggle it all, but don't stress yourself out about it because eventually you will be able to and you will be awesome!!!!
Edited by SweetSilver - 3/1/12 at 5:37pm
I have the same struggle, but now that DS is walking and playing independently (even just a little) it has made such a difference. I make sure he gets plenty of mama time after breakfast, we read for a while, then I play with him (coloring or blocks usually) and then he's happy to do something on his own for a little and I can get a little bit done!
Babywearing has been a total lifesaver. Its worth it to try different carriers and find one that is really comfy so you can babywear all day if you need to.