OP, not sure if you are still reading or not, but...
I am so there. I have a 6mo and a 2.5yo. I've been "there" off and on for the last 6 months, I hate to say it. For us it was really hard for the first couple months, it got easier, and then it has gotten worse again in the last month since DS2 has become mobile.
This doesn't sound anything like PPD to me. This sounds like a frustrated, tired mama who's trying really hard, with a really, really intense toddler. I think you understand that he needs attention, it just sounds like he requires a lot of it, perhaps more than available in order to meet everyone's needs.
Things to think about: emotion coaching (wow DS, you seem really frustrated that you can't have the broom right now). Paybacks on that come later. It was a beautiful day when my son said "I frustrated mama!" In the meantime, you're acknowledging he's mad rather than just saying no. talking through everything:(Oh, you hear baby crying? He is hungry. I am going to go feed him. I'm going to put some crayons on the table for you if you want to color while I feed him.) Again, paybacks come later.
Regarding expectations, I notice everyone says drop your expectations. I think that's fine, and I'm not judging whether yours are appropriate or not (mine is also capable of and wants to do things that other kids his age don't do--it's an odd balance to strike)...but I will say that the problem I have had with dropping expectations is that even in an environment "set up for success" DS1 will find some insane way to push my buttons or be, quite frankly a freaking hard toddler. He will always have hands for hitting if he is feeling particularly mad/feisty and there is nothing else to power struggle over.
Many days and weeks I feel like I am doing damage control and trying to remember to take some time out for self care. You know, like peeing. Or making a quick sandwich while the sky is falling in the background. I've started saying, "I need take care of myself so I can take care of you" aloud like a mantra in these times. It hasn't changed much as far as DS1's behavior--he is just now starting to understand what that means, but it makes me feel better about "letting" him scream while I do something necessary.
Regarding your DS wanting everything that you have, etc, we totally went through this also. It's so hard! I think it's a phase. I don't think there was any magic I worked to fix it so to speak other than getting through it. I tried to get DS1 his own version of some things that I would regularly use (like a hand broom), but that didn't fly because it wasn't that he wanted his own, it's that he wanted what I had. It has mostly passed.
The last year for me has been an act of moving through the toddler years as lovingly as possible, some days more successfully than others. For a while I was trying to essentially fix DS1's behavior, but at least for him, it doesn't work like that. He has to move through it himself and I just do my best to support and love him through it.
Hey thanks again for all the support and tips & tricks. Just wanted to let you all know that I am still here and reading this thread, so if you've got more ideas do please keep it coming, I am loving all the new ideas & experience sharing.
I'm trying out many of the ideas here. When I get a chance I'll report back...
By the way, about baby wearing, I gave it another try with a different carrier this time. My newborn is humungous (17 lb at 7 weeks of age) and having his weight on me all the time is just soooooo tiring, and he is still IN my way for the most part, say when I try to change my toddler's diaper or help my toddler with something. The hassle of putting him in and out of the carrier all day long has stoped me from putting him into the carrier in the first place (I have moby wrap). He breastfeeds every 1.5 hour or so when I need to take him out of the wrap, then there is a bunch of reflux episodes throughout the day when I need to take him out and switch positions to find the one he decides to settle in, then he falls asleep, I get tired and take him out to put him down when he wakes up because I put him down, then many times a day I need to take him out in order to help my toddler with something....in the end it was so many putting him in and out of the wrap that it became too much of a hassle to use the wrap. But when I don't use the wrap, there are moments when the stars and everything lines up and I would actually appreciate having him in the wrap and having my hands free but it'll only be 5 minutes of that before I need totake him out for some reason.... I think I'll bring this to the baby wearing forum when I get a chance. I'll be focusing on my toddler stuff here and keeping my ears out for the toddler tips...
A few thoughts about the babywearing (I have a 2 month old and a 24 month old, which I think is a bit easier spacing than yours). Nothing is perfect or ideal for all circumstances, but you can do better than a Moby wrap, I bet. A woven wrap will be much more comfortable to support that amount of weight. If you leave it tied on the front, you can most easily pop baby in and out to nurse (or nurse in wrap), but then it is harder to reach around them to do stuff. If you put the baby on your back (which you can't do in a Moby, but is quite comfortable in a woven wrap, even with a heavy toddler), it's pretty easy to do anything you might need to, but you'll need to untie it all the way if you need to take the baby down to nurse, etc... I don't know much about Ergo type carriers, but I think you can use those on front or back as well, and they might be faster to use than tying, if you don't like that hassle.
Thanks for the replies so far.
Clarification: When I said "someone I can talk to", I didn't mean so much as a friend to chat/vent/socialize with, instead I meant someone more of a discipline and toddler expert who knows what goes on in their mind, how to handle their behaviors and how to meet their needs appropriately so that we're all happier, like a specialized counselor, educator or something, I don't know who that'd be. For example, there are all these books you can read on this topic, but where can I find someone I can go to for specific situation handling mentorship, or how to apply certain things in certain books, etc? Actually I don't even have any time to read so a person who i can ask specific questions about specific situations would be much more helpful than trying to find a solution to one situation by reading tons of books. And I don't mean to find someone to talk to so I can vent, get away from him momentarily, and feel better, but I meant someone to talk to so I can learn about how to be with him and how to teach him.
Some situations that trouble me with the 18 month old:
1) Bored:doesn't want to engage in any activities of his own, tends to cling to me all day long while I'm holding, soothing, and nursing the newborn all day. I try to sit down with him and show him how to play with the train, other stuff, or read with him while holding the newborn but instead of getting into what I'm doing with him he appears bored and is tugging my legs, making noises and having all sorts of annoying and bored behaviors. This is when I'm able to simulatiously pay attention to him, when I'm really busy with the newborn and I need him to go do his own thing it gets worse - nothing interests him and he is very whiny.
2) Try to get him to "help" or to be more self-sufficient (the idea of doing it "on my own" is appealing to him) but end up extremely frustrated myself. For example, try to get him to bring his own food to his own little table, sit down and eat - he takes a big mess playing with his food and not eating, he climbs on his little chair - things that cause me more work to clean up plus i have to physically go stop him by pulling him or using my hands while my hands are already occupied holding/feeding a 15lb newborn. (by the way, i do know about baby wearing but it doesn't work for me as a way to keep my hands free enough so I can actually go about my daily activities). I want to leave markers, crayons and certain things out for him so he can get them himself and use them but then I have to pay extra attention and be hands on with him so he doesn't get them all over the walls, couch, clothes, put in his mouth, etc. How can I get him to be more engaged in activities or doing stuff on his own?
3) Does not obbey. I tell him to drink his milk, eat, put this away, come here & put his pants on, come wash his hands, whatever simple thing it may be, be looks at me, says "no" and keeps looking at me while backing up away from me. Meanwhile I'm sitting there holding his pants, milk, food, shoes, etc just trying to hurry up so I can get back to attending the baby or other things (bathroom or feed myself or whatever the needs are at the time) or get out the door, and getting extremely frustrated that I'm taking the time to take care of him (get him dressed, feed him, clean him etc) and he is not coorperating but instead wasting my time. And I don't want to start the chase game where I have to physically go chase him in order to have him do anything (I don't think it's right & he really finds it fun if I start chasing him). Another example, he is fully capable of putting his toys away but when I ask him to do so he refuses with a "no" and the look again. I really think he is at an age when he should be doing these things that he is capable of, not to mention that most times when toys are all over the place it's not because he's been playing with them - it's because he throws them all over the place, doesn't even really play with them, and just leaves them.
4) Gets frustrated easily. Sometimes he gets stuck trying to push a truck somewhere, trying to take his jacket off, trying to open something that doesn't open, etc he gets frustrated in matter of a second and screams very loudly the moment the thing is stuck. And when I try to help him either by doing it for him or showing him, he continues to be frustrated and throws a bit fit over the matter, sometimes kicking the thing (the truck for example) or throwing it on the floor angrily and I have no way to calming him down or stopping his behavior. I don't know why he gets frustrated so easily but I'd like to know how to help him not be that way, and help him get enough paience to try it again instead of screaming instantaneously when something is stuck.
5) Really difficult to put to nap. He gets tired, I try to put him to nap (usually by laying with him onthe bed till asleep) but I'd spend an hour in bed, easily, and go no where. He'd be getting up and down, making noises, saying stuff, needing a drink, getting distratec (or looking for anything to do but to sleep). Eventually I thought if he isn't going to nap I'm not going to waste my time doing absolutely nothing but laying in bed with him pretending to go to sleep with him so he'd sleep. Many days I simply got up and gave up so I can at least move on and go do other things. But then that's when trouble comes - the tired child is still a tired child and he fusses, whines, throws tantrums, gets frustrated and becomes a real pain to deal with. It's frustrated to me because if he doesn't want to nap it's really his problem and I'm not going to waste my time trying to put him to sleep, but if I just let him be then it becomes MY problem when I have a tired whiny child and I can't do anything else either when he is throwing a tantrum from simply being tired.
This is just a start but many days I feel like pulling my hair every minute of the day. The worst part is that I get so angry, frustrated and annoyed with him that I forget he is my love and then I don't treat him very well. Then at the end of the day when he finally falls asleep for the night I look at him and feel sad about the way I was with him during the day, also feel bad that he's not getting my full attention due to his new baby brother.
I want to know how to be better at handling these daily situations so I can be a better parent/guidance/teacher to him and most importantly, be more loving towards him and really enjoy this precious time I have with him (which will be gone all too soon). :-(
it sounds like he's realizing you have less time for just him and is expressing (age appropriately) that he still needs you too. try to think of it from his perspective....for the past 17 months he's has you all to himself. now there's a new baby in the house and he's unsure of where he fits in, as well as jealous that this "intruder" is "stealing" his mommy. my ods was 17mo when ds2 was born. they're now almost 21mo and 3.5mo. i think one of the things that helped alot was we let alot of stuff go. i don't dwell on his reaction to things or getting him to "grow-up". our older ds's are still babies too and still need us just as much as they did the day the new baby was born. it's a little easier for me because i have a 5yo dd who play swith ds1, so i can get those few minutes to nurse the baby and such. ds1 helps by bringing diapers, we let him hold his brother (with our help of course). we really tried to treat ds2 as the "family's baby" instead of "mommy and daddy;s baby". it also helps that ds1 is still nursing, so that eliminated alot of the jealousy issues befor ethey even got started. i encourage ds1 (and dd for that matter) to come snuggle with the baby and i while the baby nurses. we pull out a book and read or sometimes watch a movie. i also do my best to spend at least a little bit of 1on1 time with the older kids every evening after dh gets home.
getting easily frustrated, not wanting to nap even though he's tired, not obeying....these are all age appropriate things for him to be doing. maybe try relaxing your expectations (for yourself as well as him). i know how frustrating it can get some days! i struggle with trying to remember how little my ods is and trying not to expect more out of him than he's capable of because he seems like he's so much older now taht the baby is here.
You see I've tried exactly that and it didn't work. He didn't get it. I ended up dealing with an hour long tantrum over a little situation (he never stopped throwing a fit or crying until he was absolutely tired and already forgot what he was crying about). He just didn't get the point and the whole thing was a waste. Then the next situation arised same day I took the same approach and there it goes another hour of him screaming and crying, and another one again later that day, and another one. He never got it. And when I try to tell him something like "stop crying first, then you can have it" he just screamed & cried louder over my talking, I dout he ever heard me. I can't get through him when he starts that. Seems like when it's just whining (and not escalated to full blown melt down cry & scream yet), he only whines louder as I talk to him (or if I ignore him completely and walk away). I'm really out of ideas on the whine & cry.
Dr. Harvey Karp has a wonderful book for dealing with young toddlers. If I recall it's called The Happiest Toddler on the Block. I find with young toddlers it's best to use redirection, baby proofing (at least 1 100% kid friendly room), and verbalizing for them. For instance If he is having a fit because he wants a cracker, you need to verbalize for him. "Oh Jake wants a cracker. You say, cracker please!" Generally by this point the child will have stopped crying. The point of this is not to require him to talk before giving him the cracker. It just gives him the tools so down the road he can ask for a cracker. If the child stops crying and looks at you hand them a cracker, any attempt to ask for one would earn some verbal praise in my house, and if the child was still screaming I would repeat the above. Maybe adding "Jake wants water?" or something instead in case you got the need wrong. I'm totally ok with sending tantruming kids to their rooms, but 17 months is really to young for that IMO. I think most of the time young toddlers really need a lot of help dealing with their emotions. The Happy toddler book talks a lot about it. It really was a wonderful book to use with young children.
As far as education, we have a wonderful parent resource center in my town. It offers parent education classes, a lending library, host play groups, etc. At the play groups there are trained staff you can ask questions of and a chance to socialize with other parents. If you call your local library, school, or town hall they should be able to tell you if your town offers anything similar.
One problem I had after my second was born that nobody warned me about was how OLD your first suddenly got. It's important to remember that he is still a baby too. It is difficult for both of you adjusting to the new baby in the house. While Babies needs do tend to trump all if wouldn't hurt to make a point of putting the baby down to spend time with him (pick a happy time for the baby anyway LOL).
As far as keeping him busy, do not drive yourself nuts with things that are going to be messy! You have a very young baby and your toddler has plenty of time to enjoying markers and learn how to bring his own food to the table. Only pull that kind of thing out if you can be 100 focused on him. Pick non destructive things for him to entrain himself with. LOL A small bin of cars and a board for a ramp, fake food, blocks, puzzles (you can sit on the floor and help while nursing the baby), balls and a laundry basket to toss them in, mega blocks, a peg board, little people, ride on toys, think about bringing in a slide if you have the space. It's well worth the ugliness in your livingroom! Rotate the toys often and only put out a couple different toys at a time. Less is more with toddlers! Pick one time of day to have him help clean up. GO EASY ON YOUR SELF!! Montessori teachers are not doing it with a newborn and are not recovering from childbirth and have had years training in child development!
i just wanted to add some ideas about babywearing. i only have the one (12 months old), but life has gotten exponentially easier since i started wearing her more. we used to just wear when we needed to get from A to B, now we wear at home too, at least 2-3 times per day. i really think it has made a big difference for us. i would focus on wearing the toddler right now, since he is the one that seems to need the extra attention, and it can be actually less exhausting to wear a baby with muscle tone than a heavy newborn. and a better carrier than the moby will definitely change your outlook.
in your position, i'd want a definitely want a SSC (soft structured carrier) like an ergo, boba, babyhawk oh snap or similar. they are super easy to put on, generally very supportive of heavier kids, and excellent for back carries. as soon as my dd wakes up in the morning, i immediately put her in a back carry (we usually use a woven wrap at home) and go make us breakfast and do a couple chores. she gets her cuddles and a chance to wake up a bit, i get stuff done. this frees up your hands to make everyone breakfast, change and nurse the nb, all while being physically connected to your bigger lo. throughout the day, you can switch up between carrying the nb and the toddler, depending on who needs what. if you are up for it, you can even experiment with carrying both. you WILL be physically exhausted for a couple weeks. it takes time to build these muscles, if you haven't been using them regularly. but your body does acclimatize really quickly, and with the right carrier it should never been downright painful. since you already know how to use a moby, a woven wrap won't be a huge adjustment, and i really like it for around the house, as it is definitely more snuggly than a ssc.
my mind really changed about babywearing when i thought about more as a way to provide physical and emotional contact than about convenience or transport. i could see my little toddler-in-training craving more and more of my emotional time per day, even as she got easier and easier to physically look after. wearing her isn't so much about convenience anymore... i could easily put her in her highchair or let her explore in the cupboards while i cook, but what she really wants is my attention and to be near me, and babywearing is the only way to meet those needs and get anything done.
What an idea! I was just going to post a question about what to do when my toddler repeats & whines "up, up, up, up.." (meaning "pick me up", "carry me") almost ALL DAY LONG, and I can't get anything done (I'm not even trying to do anything besides change diapers, get him food, get him dressed to take him out, eat, go to the bathroom, etc). It's crazy and it's down right annoying to me at times especially when the newborn needs something and I really can't spare the hands or attention. Being annoyed is small, but what to do about it is a bigger quesiton. I think i should try wearing him in the carrier, on my back because I know I must keep my front available for the infant because the infant needs a lot of feeding, burping, rocking, or just holding through out the day.
I do have an Ergo (that's what I used with my todder since 4 month old to around 1yr old when he wouldn't stay in one place & kept wanting to get out of the carrier). I can revisit the Ergo with my todder now, this time on my back. But I'm concerned that he'd still keep wanting to get off the carrier, causing me to be even more anxious and stressed out because I won't have the extra hands & time to keeping popping him in and out of the carrier (no matter how easy the carrier is to use) in the middle of nursing, consoling the infant, fixing food, etc. Actually I'm already expecting this because that's how he is now - when I pick him up he wants to get down in matter of seconds and as soon as he gets down he wants up again almost right away, can't tell you how insane this behavior drives me! (I'd actually be happy if he'd just sit in the carrier all day, that's much easier to deal with than all his whining, frustration, and boredom, etc) The other thing is that he wants to get into EVERYTHING I'm doing and take everything I'm using. Many times I try to be sneaky and do things quickly without him seeing it to avoid the battle with him when he sees me with something in my hands. I'm just imagining what it'd be like to have him in the carrier on my back when I'm pouring him milk or refiling his water cup and having him whine & scream asking for the lid so he can put the lid on the cup all by himself (which he wants to do EVERYTIME i refill his cup or get him milk) - I don't know if I can let him do that on my back without spilling all over the both of us (and possibly his baby brother on my front side).... I don't even know if I can hold the cup without spilling while he whines, jumps, and moves on my back trying to get the cup or lid.... I'll give this a try to wear him on the back...