Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Parental continuing education: Two-kid boot camp

People had warned me before I had a second child that it's not double the work, that it's exponentially more than that.

And I have to agree. It's not in the ways I thought, though. I thought it would be all physical labor - more dirty clothes, more dishes, more toys. What I really wasn't prepared for was the emotional and physical wallop of the relentlessness of two children's competing wants and needs.

I don't believe there's any way to actually prepare for it. But! I started thinking about it, and I think you could have a day of boot camp.

It might go something like this:
  1. Get two of your friends to spend a night and day with you. Assign one to be the kid and the other the toddler.
  2. Since you'll need to be ready to juggle the two kids alone at least sometimes, and this is boot camp, your partner should leave the house for one entire day. Also, you'll need to do something with the actual kid that you already have. Send them off with the other parent.
  3. Have one friend wake up shrieking between 1:00 and 3:00 am. (For current purposes, I'm working with a kid and a toddler. BUT! If your friend is willing, and you want to recreate the newborn experience all over again, then ask them to scream every two hours. Also ask Baby Friend to cry regularly and make you guess what he or she wants and not to talk or point or really do anything for him- or herself. You'll have to choose a really good friend, of course. Realize this will be a good/terrible test in many ways, because you'll both be exhausted and crabby.)
  4. Have Kid Friend wake up any time prior to 6:30 am, stand next to you two inches from your nose, and when you awake with a start, say, "Is today a stay-home day? What are we doing today? Can I watch a video? I want waffles."
  5. Get up with Kid Friend. Start making waffles. 
  6.  Leave while they're toasting, because Toddler Friend is up. 
  7. Make sure Kid Friend understands that if he/she does not already have your full attention, they should ask or shriek for your it when you begin to leave the room. They don't need to full-out cry until you've actually left to get Toddler Friend.
  8. Bring Toddler Friend into the room and set them up with some toys.
  9. Turn your attention back to breakfast.
  10. During this time, your friends will alternate with any or all of the following whenever they choose: pull on you one at a time; pull on you at the same time; compete to sit in your lap; demand that you read a book while you're cooking eggs; play happily until one of them hits the other, thus causing both to scream; lay on the floor and kick each other; hug your legs.
  11. Be sure to ask your friends to improvise. If one of them wants to climb on top of a chair and fall off, for example, that's terrific. If Toddler Friend feels inclined to bite Kid Friend, all the better.
  12. Get waffles and eggs onto two plates. Make sure one is not bigger/more appealing than the other. Ditto for beverages. Toddler Friend probably won't notice, but Kid Friend will.
  13. At least one of them should spill a beverage and/or food on the floor.
  14. Going to the park with two adults pretending to be your children would likely garner you a lot of looks and a weird reputation in your community so it might be best to stay home. But to practice getting both kids bundled to go out, have Kid Friend demand your attention while you're trying to get Toddler Friend's coat, shoes, hat, gloves on. Toddler Friend will bolt and remove at least one item of clothing whenever you turn your attention to Kid Friend.
  15. Since you're all adults, you might at this point want to have a drink. But you can't. Or anyway, they can't. And with my rules, you can't either.
  16. Spend the day keeping Kid Friend and Toddler Friend entertained. Try painting or coloring or playing with cars and trains. Kid Friend and Toddler Friend must remember to squabble regularly over who plays with which toy.
  17. Don't feel bad about yourself if you resort to videos. Cars or The Little Mermaid are big hits here.
  18. Make lunch. Repeat Steps 10-13 here.
  19. All take a nap at the same time, but make sure one if not both resist violently beforehand.
  20. Your nap ends whenever either of them get up.
  21. Keep one and then both entertained until dinnertime. 
  22. Repeat the mealtime steps.
  23. No, Kid Friend cannot have a treat unless they finish dinner. Repeat this 54 times.
  24. Poor everyone a big glass of wine, because at this point you will likely all hate each other and boy, do you deserve it. Also, it will help you get through boot camp bathtime, which is sure to be awkward, no matter how good friends you are.


  1. You have hit the nail on the head. Fortunately the middle of the night screaming will stop, but the competing demands never end!!! xxx

    1. I feel like so many things will improve when we all sleep through the night regularly. But the competing demands get easier, no? Carmen and Lorenzo seem to get along well and it seemed low stress to hang out with both. (Of course, this was my perspective with two hours of fun shopping and lunch...)

  2. "Poor everyone" a big glass of wine.

    Indeed. :o)

  3. I don't know if this is any consolation at the moment, but it does get easier as they mature and are able to communicate better. We haven't hit the sweet spot quite yet (I'm thinking when they're 5 and 7, so only one more year), but it's soooo much easier than when they were Jordan and India's age. The lack of emotional maturity plus limited communication is a motherfucker. You're in the hardest part right now -- no place to go but up!

    1. I believe this. Jordan's a great communicator but definitely lacks emotional maturity. They're both sweet and really quite fun on their own, but together - argh!

  4. Very funny. Never ask me over for bootcamp. Please ask me over for a glass of wine, however.

    1. I will! We aren't drinking this month, but next month for sure!

  5. Hahaha! This is all so true. Regarding #12 about unequal plates and cups (not to mention flatware, napkins, straws, etc etc etc) -- the big kid will not only notice but will either lose her shit over the unfairness of it all, or start bragging about how she got the better place mat so that the little one can learn to lose her shit over this sort of thing too.

    And Wendy is so right, it gets better and better (except for dreading the teen years payback I've got coming).

    1. Yes! He is teaching her to lose her shit over stuff she wouldn't care about! STOP IT!

      I do fear the teen years. I feel like I get little glimpses with the levels of defiance now. It puts fear in my heart. I was a horrible teenager.

  6. Replies
    1. I'm sorry! They are both pretty delightful little humans and I enjoy each individually, but I haven't gotten to a place where hanging out with both is enjoyable.

  7. This, THIS is why I have cats, not children.

  8. Hahahaha, My children were 6 years apart. It's the only reason any of us survived. And barely at that. Keep drinking. You'll need fortification for the late teens early twenties.

    1. Six years seems like a good age distance for the older one to be helpful. As for the drinking, it's almost December! :)

  9. My son is 2 & 1/2 and we're expecting our second. This post freaks me out. I've completely blocked out the sleepless nights from the first months of my son's life, it sounds like there will plenty of other challenges as everyone gets older. Any chance my older child will be helpful? I'm not talking about changing diapers (though that would be nice), but just, to quote Thomas, being really useful.

    1. I don't know. I have heard of older siblings being helpful, but it wasn't really the case here. He was very very needy when she was little. He can be super helpful when it's the two of us, but tends to compete with her for my attention when she's around.


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