My second babe just turned 6 months old and only just recently have we resumed all mommy and me activities with both my toddler and baby. We all had a great time singing and dancing in our new class called Zumbini. (Imagine Zumba for toddlers and babies, it's hilariously fun.)
However, just a couple months ago, I wouldn't have thought it was fun. I wouldn't have enjoyed myself at all. In fact, with an out-of-state move and dealing with postpartum depression, I made the decision to stop going to all toddler activities we were doing before the baby was born.
After a second C-section I had to stop this part of our routine for the simple fact that I needed to let my body heal. But after six weeks, I knew I needed to let my mind recover and heal too.
Having a second baby hit me like a ton of bricks.
With my first child, when she napped I usually got some rest, too. But with my second child, every time he napped I was still taking care of my daughter. There was no nap time for mama. Instead, I was playing with her, cleaning, making meals for both of us, and all the things I was still doing before the baby was born—but now I was taking care of a newborn in the midst of it all.
I remember having a conversation with a friend who told me after her second was born she just strapped the baby to the carrier and continued all activities with her toddler. Life went on.
However, the one time I attempted to get both kids ready and in the car to make it to story time on time, it didn't quite pan out the way I envisioned. We were late. I was expected to participate, so there I was shaking a maraca with one arm while nursing my newborn with the other, and then had to load my two kids back in the car after class was over, only to then have them both fall asleep on the ride home and of course wake up as soon as we pulled in the driveway. Then I had to get lunch ready for my toddler, while my baby cried because of overstimulation, and it was only 1 pm!
That's when I decided no more. We were going to stay home, where I could put the baby to sleep in a quiet room and I could actually get some rest.
I'll be completely honest—there was a LOT of TV watching during this season of adjusting to two children. There were still a lot of meltdowns, and it was a really lonely time with minimal adult interaction. But with the little sleep I was getting, it was the only way I was keeping my sanity.
I was getting used to being a mom of two, and it was a lot of hard work. I was trying to be gentle with myself. And you know what? It worked.
I'm writing this because I noticed that two amazing things happened. One, my baby started getting older and actually started to enjoy the few trips we made to the park, which I knew was going to happen eventually (but it did feel like it was taking forever to get there).
And second, which surprised me the most, my daughter learned how to play and entertain herself at home. I no longer had to sit with her through every activity, instead, she was doing things all by herself. It has been a joy to watch her independence flourish.
Even through the extra TV watching, she started talking (a lot) and was learning about colors, letters and games. She started helping me with the baby, and recently they started playing and laughing together, not for long periods of time, but enough time for this mama to write this essay.
On my son's half birthday, I had the courage to try our Zumbini class with both kids. And both my daughter and baby boy enjoyed it so much! I even found myself enjoying it, too. So much so that we committed to a whole six weeks of it, just once a week. (Taking baby steps, here people.)
The truth is—just as my friend found that going to her toddler's activities with her young baby in tow gave her some type of sanity, not going to any at all, gave me sanity.
Even when we do things differently, we're all in this together. I now believe that I've got this. And so do you, mama.