Why, oh why does this suck so badly? 5pm until bedtime is when I have both kids without TSA. While most of the Stay-At-Home moms around the country get relief around this time of day, my day gets considerably more hectic from the time I pick up the Shnook (with the Fuzzball in the car).
I fully understand that I'm lucky to be with the baby for a good chunk of the day, Two years ago, I was complaining about just the infant, but believe it or not, being alone with Fuzz, although still exhausting, is kind of a vacation compared to the mental gymnastics my toddler puts me through. All is usually good and fine when I pick him up. We have very pleasant conversation on the way home, pointing out landmarks such as fountains, gyms, car washes, etc.
However, the moment we pull in the driveway the trouble starts.
“I don't wanna park here.”
“This is where we park.”
“No!!! I don't WANNA park here!!”
I usually ignore this, as there is little I can do about it, plus I know he's just pushing buttons.
“Mommy, I want front door, not side door.”
This I can accommodate, since it's hard to get Fuzzball’s carseat through the side door anyway.
Then we get to the door and he plays the mean game of “This is not your house. No, mommy, this is not your house.” (and he shuts the door).
So this whole time, Fuzz, is either sleeping, or screaming, and if he's not screaming, he will often start screaming once we get in the door. It's not uncommon to have at least one kid crying at some point during this entire three hour stretch until Shnook falls asleep. Good rockin' times.
As soon as we get in the door, I usually have to pick up the baby and feed him. When it was still light out, we could go outside for 20 minutes or so—yay for parenting in Southern California. If not, then it's trains and blocks and letters and mess-making. Once in a while, the electronic babysitter gets a turn, too. If I'm really lucky I'm nursing the Fuzz on a stool in the bathroom while the Shnook is pooping. That's totally awesome. Poor Fuzzball.
The Shnook is quite a control freak, and likes to help with pretty much everything, When he doesn't get to help, he throws a fit. If you flush the toilet without asking him he has a fit, because he didn't get to 'help.' Cooking is no exception to Shnook's love of helping. Making cooking safe for a two-year-old is quite a challenge. I try to make really simple stuff for him, his favorite being whole wheat pasta with olive oil, parmesan cheese and olives. Even though it would be faster for me to just toss it all up and serve it to him, if I do that we'll have a Level 9 tantrum. Please keep in mind that while all this is going on, it is also the witching hour for Fuzzball, who was mellow and calm the whole day but is now shaking things up by refusing to let me put him down. I usually have no choice, as I don't want to spill hot pasta water on his head, or something else horrific like that. I have yet to try the 'baby on the back' technique, which could assist in this cooking nightmare.
Dinner becomes about telling Shnook to stay in his chair, sit down and eat, etc. Occasionally we have a pleasant conversation during dinner and it's very lovely, but other nights, like last night for example, I want to lock myself in the kitchen alone.
Some nights, like once or twice a week, TSA comes home even later than his usual 8pm arrival, then I put the Shnook to bed on my own. I'm getting better at this, but with the baby, it's quite a challenge to do the bath. I end up putting Fuzz down to solid crying, while attempting not to drown Shnook. I feel like I'm juggling fire. If I can get to the point of reading books and nursing the Fuzz at the same time, I feel like I'm almost home free but that road feels like the tortoise crossing the finish line. There I go again with the turtle analogies.
How do you deal with the dinner to bedtime chaos? Give me your tips!!