I tend to pride myself on the variety of activities I undertake with two 13-month-olds in tow. I take them grocery shopping, I take them out to lunch, I take them to classes. All by myself, no biggie. I mean, yeah, it’s more complicated than it would be with one kid, but I’ve got my strategies and my double stroller. I am pretty confident in my abilities.
But, in truth, there are some things better not done solo. Today’s case-in-point: taking them to the playground by myself. This is a nice one. Fenced in, relatively compact, and shredded recycled tires that make a pretty soft surface in case of falls. Has some baby swings, and some less-steep slides. But the fact of the matter is that I have two mobile-but-not-steady kids who don’t take direction and haven’t entirely figured out that you can’t crawl straight off of surfaces 3 (or 6 or 10) feet above the ground.
I mean, we did OK. No one was in any way injured. They were a big hit with a couple of five-year-old girls. But at this age, it’s just a really tricky outing to do by myself. Lots of chasing, lots of pulling off of high places (and ensuing proto-tantrums), lots of lifting that’s causing my lower back to grumble menacingly at me right now. And none of the other moms are particularly able (even if they were hypothetically willing) to help me, because they obviously have their own kids to watch and prevent from falling. It’s just one of those things that, at this age, is better done with a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio.
We really needed an outing this afternoon. They skipped the afternoon nap again, a nap that currently has only about a 60-70% success rate. The trouble is that they really seem to still need it, and are often hysterical when they don’t get it. And when they’re hysterical because they haven’t napped, and I haven’t had any break because they haven’t napped, it’s best if we all get the hell out of the house. So, off we went. Stopped at the Starbucks drive-thru for a mommy pick-me-up, and off we went two towns over to the park. (Yeah, my sucky town doesn’t have much by way of playgrounds… boo.)
Naturally, they both passed out by the time we arrived. Hrm. So, there I am, the weirdo sitting in her car at the playground. Hope no one thought I was a stalker. I let them sleep for a few and tried to relax and listen to the radio and check my email on my enabler iPhone. Then I got out of the car, and opened the sliding doors. They didn’t wake up. I put on their shoes. Didn’t even twitch. I unbuckled their carseats, called their names, stroked their heads. Nothing. See what I mean about needing the sleep? Anyways, just when I was going to give up and go back home, they stirred. Great, brought them over to the playground. We stayed for about half an hour until Rebecca lost it when I pulled her away from the slide so another kid could go down without kicking her in the head. Let’s just say it was an ugly afternoon and an early bedtime.
I recognize that this is the beginning of the dreaded switch to one nap, but as much of a struggle as the afternoon nap is right now, I honestly don’t believe it’s time for it to go. Plus, they’re still completely ready for the AM nap at 9:00, and that’s obviously way too early to be the only one for the day. But they only seem to really take the afternoon one if I do something that involves a lot of running around in between the naps. Easier said than done, for sure, especially with Daniel not yet walking and the weather hinting that we won’t be able to play outside forever. My buddy Dr. Weissbluth seems to agree that’s the way to go: “intense stimulation” after the AM nap, but then “extra long and relaxing soothing to sleep for the midday nap.” I’m not sure what on earth the latter should look like with two kids who just want to climb on me, but I suppose I’ll give it a shot. I suspect there will be a lot of back-and-forth on this one until the day comes when we just go to the one nap. Wohoo.