I always thought that dealing with LP by myself through dinner, bath and bed, was hard work, especially when she was tiny. Since she started walking, about 7 months ago, dinner, bath, bed got a lot easier when we were doing it by ourselves. As I’ve said before, Hubby works shifts and isn’t always around for LP’s bedtime – at worst he’s not here four evenings out of ten – It doesn’t sound that bad really does it? It really wasn’t that bad, I didn’t appreciate how easy solo parenting was when you just have one child.
Now that Little Man is here, solo dinner, bath, bed is my worst nightmare. It is hell on earth. I hate it more than anything else in the world at the moment.
I’m writing this so that I can look back in the months to come and realise that things have improved, things do get easier, because right now it just feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Little Man is now 18 weeks old. I thought that the solo parenting dinner, bath, bed would get easier. It hasn’t. If anything it’s getting worse. Tonight is the second, and last, solo parenting night of this stint of solo parenting. Last night Little Man spent most of dinner, bath, bed screaming his head off, nothing I did would pacify him, he wouldn’t feed, would even cry if I picked him up. He wanted to be rocked to sleep, he was over tired. Yet how do you rock a hysterical 4 month old to sleep when you have an overtired toddler around your ankles not letting you leave her alone? How do you bath that toddler and get her ready for bed and somehow read her a bed time story with a hysterical 4 month old?!
Tonight was pretty much the same although I changed tactics. I tried giving LP her dinner and then taking LM upstairs to get him to sleep whilst LP ate. He wouldn’t go to sleep, and I couldn’t leave LP alone indefinitely so I had to leave him screaming while I rushed downstairs, skipped LP’s pudding, washed her hands and dragged her back upstairs. I then put her in our bedroom, put cartoons on the TV and went back to trying to get LM to sleep.
The trouble with this is that kids TV shows ‘On Demand’ only last for about 7 minutes maximum. 7 minutes isn’t anywhere near long enough to get a screaming baby to sleep and so I had to keep coming out and putting another show on. In the end it took 45 minutes of 7 minute instalments to get LM to sleep. By this point it was 7:30pm, LP had missed her bath and was shattered and screaming for more cartoons… I decided to just put her PJs on and read her a story which went fine until LM woke up again screaming, 5 minutes before the end of Tabby McTat. I had to leave him crying, finished the book at lightning speed, kissed LP goodnight, lights off and back in I went to LM.
It then took another 15mins to settle LM again and all the time LP was crying. She was crying that awful sobbing where she can’t quite catch her breath. Proper, proper crying, but LM was feeding and so I couldn’t go and comfort her. When LM was settled again I then went back in to LP and we had cuddles until she had calmed down.
Bedtime used to be such a lovely time that I didn’t appreciate enough. I used to rush through LP’s stories to go and have ‘me time’, I used to rush the bath as it wasn’t very exciting for me and I used to try and get Pickle in bed as quickly as possible so I could go and relax.
Now, I miss that easy time. I miss being able to give her my full attention at bedtime and I miss being able to read a lovely rhyming bedtime story at the pace it was intended. I miss being able to agree to a third or fourth story as now we quite often only have the time to rush through one.
Solo bedtimes are awful now. I cannot give either child enough of me. I cannot split myself in half and I cannot dedicate any time to either of them. I find it so hard hearing either of them cry but I physically cannot be with both of them at once, I cannot even comfort both of them at once. The times that LM is happy to feed in the evening he’ll feed while LP’s in the bath or feed while I’m reading stories but as he’s now getting older he has a bedtime and wants to go to sleep. If he isn’t in bed and asleep by 7pm everything goes wrong but it’s very hard to get him into bed at 7pm with a toddler that also needs feeding and bathing and putting to bed at the same sort of time.
For now I’ve decided bedtime cartoons will help and I’m going to investigate ‘feature length’ shows that last longer than 7mins. I may even try moving LP’s dinner a bit earlier and then giving her milk while she watches those bedtime cartoons to fill her up before bed – we’ve always had dinner at 6pm as a family and we would still do this on the other days, just adapt the routine for solo bedtimes. I might even start doing a morning bath instead of an evening bath – for now evening baths on solo parenting days are cancelled. No solo bathtimes. I’m sure LP won’t mind.
If you have any ideas or advice I would love to hear it. Please tell me that solo parenting with two or more children gets easier – even if it gets easier when they’re walking, talking or at school – I need light at the end of this tunnel even if it takes years to improve!
To end on a positive, Little Man goes to sleep at 7, 7:30, 8. Whenever he ends up going to sleep, sleeps for half and hour, feeds and then will sleep for 3 hours. I now have my evening back – which is amazing.
I would just like the preceding couple of hours to be less stressful and I’ll be incredibly happy!