How I'm Keeping Up With My 2-Year-Old

>> 3.21.2014

Do you ever get to that point just before the afternoon nap and feel like you're going to collapse? It happens to me every day, and I don't even have it all that bad with just one child. Now, I think winter is to blame partially for such frenzied mornings spent indoors. I'm looking forward to the nice, warm spring days when walks to the park will help tire those little legs, but restore whatever it is inside of me that seems to be lacking. (I think it's sunshine. Well, OK -- it's definitely sunshine.)

So far, though: This is spring.

Bundled, blustery, and begging for warmth. Regardless, I got to thinking about how this whole energy to keep up with kids thing won't be going away anytime soon. So, I've been taking some measures to make sure I'm at my best on those particularly difficult days.

// I carry water with me wherever we go. 

I feel like encouraging you all to drink water is beyond basic, so believe me when I tell you I know you know to drink H2O. I have just learned the hard way that dehydration can slowly creep in and completely ruin a day. If you're ever feeling massively energy-sucked, ask yourself "when did I last drink water?" and your answer might point you in the right direction.

// I prepare meals ahead of time so I have critical fuel.

I can't tell you how many times I'd get going in the morning and just end up grabbing crap foods because they were the most convenient. Now I boil eggs on Sunday so I have a quick protein source in the fridge. I blend together batches of hummus so I have a satisfying spread for my lunches. I make crock pot soups so I'm sure to get in my veggies. If I don't prep, I end up grabbing granola bars (and COOKIES!) all day long . . . and then I crash and burn, which is no fun at all.

// I take vitamins. 

I've gone through periods of time when I don't think supplements are worth it and others when I swear by them. Right now, I'm swearing by them. I do indeed feel a difference when I take my daily multi -- so I'll keep at it until I cycle back again. As a vegetarian, I figure it can't hurt to have some of those extra energy boosting Bs.

// I have built quiet, independent play time play into each day.

Ada is going through this stage where she's absolutely obsessed with animal figurines. I have this big wooden box of them that I pull out mid-morning after we get home from activities or whatever else we're doing that day. It usually guarantees us 30 minutes to an hour of independent play. I can sit, grab a mug of tea, and even read a few pages in a book, if I'm lucky. A little recharging time to get me back up to at least half battery.

// I take a step back + stop hovering.

I think it's coded in our DNA as parents to be watchful of what our kids are doing. I tend to get a little over-protective or involved, not really by meaning to -- it's just somehow my auto-pilot taking over. So, giving Ada some space not only lets her be her typical crazy 2-year-old self, but it also requires less energy from me. It's OK if she spills some of her sensory box rice on the floor. It's alright if the finger paint bleeds a bit onto the dining room table. Of if she colors on her face with washable markers. It's also really fun to just watch her explore objects/activities on her own versus me guiding the tour every time.

// I keep nap time predictable.

I'm going to write a separate post on this point to elaborate because I think it can sound pretty obnoxious to swiftly state that I have figured out how to get kids to nap. Historically, I've been a little nuts about keeping our schedule predictable so that Ada will fall into a good pattern of sleep -- it's been inconvenient at times, but also totally worth it IMO. I keep her room dim/dark and we do the same motions of life every day -- so much that she even asks to nap. Again, totally obnoxious without elaboration, so look for a post with some of my "secrets" next week. (And now I'm probably jinxed myself into a zero nap day!)

// I give myself an early bedtime.

I've become a night owl these last couple years, which is so totally not me. But I'm taking that time back and putting myself to sleep so I can get at least 8 hours. With the running I do, I find myself feeling drained physically -- and it takes a lot of rest to rebound and face another day of work and toddler-wrangling. Now I head to bed at 10 and set my alarm for 6. I don't always get to sleep all those hours -- because toddlers, despite what we're often told -- do still wake often at night! But at least I'm horizontal for most that that time.

// I use my resources and seek new ones.

We have two enthusiastic sets of grandparents who visit often and offer to let us have some weekend time away, even if it's only a couple hours to watch a movie. It can be hard for me to shift my writing/work around and allow myself to get away -- but I find it's well worth it. I am also looking forward to even a couple hours of preschool next year to give Ada the stimulation + socialization she needs, but without the mommy-and-me aspect. It will be good for both of us, I'm sure of it. I think we might also explore getting a non-family sitter in the next year.

How do you keep up with your little ones? Any tips or tricks to share?

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