Last week my in laws took Reece on a trip down to LA to visit his great-grandparents, which left us with just one kid for the week.
Even though Emme is going through an awful screaming phase and it’s because of her antics that we had to leave a restaurant mid-meal taking our food to go for the first time ever in our four years of parenting, last week still felt like a break.
It’s not that Reece is the problem–Emme is our more challenging child at the moment, adorable and amusing though she may be–it’s just that there’s a lot less stress when you’re dealing with the irritating behaviors of just one child versus the combined efforts of two.
For instance, Emme has a low tolerance for riding in the car lately and she screams her brains out pretty much every time, which is annoying in itself. Add Reece yelling “Emme, STOP IT! STOP SCREAMING! WHY WON’T YOU STOP SCREAMING?” on top of it and I’m left wanting to bang my head repeatedly against the steering wheel.
Another job duty left behind for the week was playing referee. There was no reminding to share, no convincing one to do the activity that the other one wants to do and I didn’t have to listen to complaining that Emme was getting in the way more than she was being a good playmate. Just fun, simple playtime with my girl.
I regained some patience last week that was running dangerously low. With all the screaming that’s been coming at me, I’ve resorted to screaming all too frequently myself and have had more scary mommy moments than I care to admit.
It was enjoyable having a week of one-on-one time with Emme, especially since she’s the youngest which means we’ve never had that before. I’m a much calmer, patient, reasonable and overall better parent with just one child, which is a hard realization (I still had my moments. The screams this girl is capable of will do anyone in after awhile).
Individual time with both kids is important, but I need to be the best parent I can to both of them together, not just one-on-one. I’m hopeful that Reece starting preschool next week will give me the time I need to be at my best self more often, even though it’s not space from him that I need, it’s the break from parenting two.
In fact, I think more one-on-one time with him would help all around since most of his misbehaviors are a result of Emme’s toddlerness or at the very least it’s my inability to deal with minor things because my patience has been stretched so thin already.
I’m not sure if there is a fix to this or if it’s just part of parenting young children. What I do know is that even parenting just one child can feel like a break and sometimes that’s all you need to appreciate the amazing things about your child that sometimes get lost amidst the craziness of having more than one.