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Learning to Juggle Two Children

How a new mama of two overcame her fear of being alone with her toddler and baby.

Learning to Juggle Two Children

Let me make a confession: since becoming a mother of two, the idea of being left alone with my two children is incredibly petrifying. Both have such intense needs of such different scopes. The four year old wants to play, build, and explore. The baby wants to nurse, snuggle, and be held. And what about me? When do I eat, pee or get back to an email? Somehow the idea of managing these two very different realities simultaneously has resulted in a confidence shutdown and ultimately the belief that I need pretty consistent support to do the juggle of two. This puts an inordinate amount of pressure on my busy husband and an over-reliance on childcare. But worst of all, by far, is my own overwhelming sense of powerlessness when it comes to the care of my kids.

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This lack of confidence in handling my two children was bleeding into other areas of my life, like how I manage a business relationship or speak for myself in a moment of tension with a family member. Confidence is confidence, and if it’s lacking in one area it’s likely an issue somewhere else.

It was time to change the dynamic. My husband brought us to our upstate home on a Saturday morning and headed back to the city for the work week on Sunday night. A friend took my son to the park one morning, and another friend helped pack up the car before we headed back to the city. But otherwise, I purposely refused childcare from Sunday night through Thursday afternoon. I was on mom duty and I was embracing it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

There were numerous meltdowns (my sons), some tears (mine and my baby’s), and lots of laughter and snuggles when we all woke up together in the early morning. Since I often got the “worst” of my son’s behavior, I utilized our time to step up my voice and get the respect I deserve. I also refined my multitasking skills (dinner prep while baby naps and child does an art project) and gave myself permission to utilize the tools I have. After all, one hour of TV so that I can properly put the baby to bed at night will not kill my son and in fact and will in fact reward him with a more focused mom during his bedtime! Letting up on all my “rules” on things like screen time and treats can help me get it all done in a peaceful manner -- as long as nothing is abused and mom has the upper hand, I’m where I need to be.

By the time Thursday morning arrived, it was time to head back to the city, and I had never driven a long drive with the two kids. The fun began when my four year old began demanding a piece of gum…I reluctantly handed him a piece when it fell to the floor. He began to wail. A few threats later (I will drop you off on the side of the highway), everyone calmed down. But not long after, the little one started to sob! I thought, for sure she was just tired and needed to settle down and fall asleep -- and so, I kept driving. At the final stop before crossing the George Washington Bridge, I finally decided the crying had gone on long enough. My little girl was not only covered in massive amounts of snot but had a diaper full of poop. We ultimately made it sanely back to the city and since I had intelligently arranged child care to meet me back at our apartment, I promptly booked myself a massage -- and boy, did I need it!

But even after all of that, the days in the country, just the 3 of us, were beautiful. I loved playing outside with both of them, watching the two of them laugh at one another, and listening to the forest of birds on our porch first thing in the morning. In my heart, I know these are the moments I will treasure forever.

I can’t tell you how proud, how confident, how badass I felt. Knowing that I could handle my two kids solo and not just handle it, but enjoy it? Clearly this was a place I needed to reach,and I’m so glad that I faced it head on.

What’s challenging you right now? What beliefs do you hold in one part of your life that may be limiting you in another? Can you slow things down a bit to face a fear and begin to realize that you are more capable than you believe?

Photography by Nafisa Skeie Photography.

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    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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