Being a SAHM who has one daughter to look after isn’t easy. Especially when she is at the age where she tells me directly that she wants my attention and makes sure I play with her. But I must be honest that it also isn’t difficult for me to sneak in little breathers here and there during the day.
A lot of my SAHM friends have more than one child to look after. Most of them have two and the age gap between the kids is pretty close. Their kids are one to three years apart. And most of them manage without a domestic helper. I always look at these friends in amazement. How on earth do they do it?
With a baby or a toddler and a preschooler, there’s always much to be done. My friends share quite a bit about their daily routines with me and I know that it’s always a mad rush around the house in the mornings.
When one child wakes up, chances are, the other child wakes up around the same time. Breakfast, milk feeds, diaper change, shower, clearing mess(es), little bit of disciplining here and there and then preparing the elder child for school. That’s quite a bit a mother of two has to do all in one morning. And if their preschooler is in afternoon session for school, they still have to cook lunch before the school bus comes, and make sure the pre-schooler eats a decent amount, enough for him or her not to be hungry before snack time in school.
On a good day, things may happen in a breeze. All the kids choose to be cooperative and listen to Mummy’s instructions.
On a not-so-good day (which I hear about sometimes), the baby is clingy and wants to be carried all the time while the preschooler refuses to eat, refuses to shower and refuses to put toys away. What adds fuel to fire is when the kids decide to scream, and if you know kids well, when one screams, chances are, the other one follows. Sounds like a big headache for a SAHM.
On top of all the daily routines to keep up with, babies and preschoolers have rather different developmental needs.
Not only does Mummy need to coo along with the baby, she also needs to speak proper language to the preschooler. Mummies with two or more young children often need to shake a rattle with one hand and hold a crayon in the other. If mummies could grow more arms just to do more things all at once, I think they would.
Yet, my SAHM friends with two or more children never fail to cope with what goes on at home. Sure, there are times when they rant about the not-so-good days, but hey, everyone needs some place to ventilate and to air their feelings. And what truly blesses me is how they parent their children so well amidst the daily “chaos”.
How do I know they parent their children well?
For one, the elder child adores the younger one. Sure, they may snatch things from each other sometimes but the elder child never fails to shower the younger one with hugs and kisses.
For another, the children look out for another. The elder child wants to help care for the younger one and the younger one simply shows appreciation by flashing a toothless grin at the elder sibling.
What amazes me most about my SAHM friends with two or more children is how they are able to bring their kids out without help. When we have gatherings, they come with one child in a baby carrier and the other in a stroller. When one child cries while another child is nagging for attention, they handle things like a pro and satisfy whatever needs all the children have.
Taking breathers when you have two or more children isn’t easy, but it’s also not impossible. And my friends have certainly shown me that it is possible.
One of the tips in the link above talks about planning play dates, and this is something I totally love. When SAHMs get together, the kids get to play with one another while mummies chat and share. Such sessions is usually where ideas or tips of parenting are shared, and these tips can sometimes be life-savers, quite literally.
While my husband and I yearn to have another child, I often wonder how I will manage when the baby actually comes. Will I be able to manage half as well as my friends?
And so, as a mother of one (for now), I salute all of you, my SAHM friends who have more children than I do. You all have shown me that tough as some days can be, staying home with more than one child (a lot of you without a helper) can be done and you can still be sane. ;P