The Terrible Twos
Baby F is approaching 20 months old. I swear the universe laughs at me daily. I wanted a third baby so much I can’t even put it into words – it felt like my soul had a hole in it before she arrived. And since around 24 hours after she forced her way out into the world without any hesitation, she has been demanding every ounce of patience and willpower and parenting skill I possess.
There was a brief period, from about 9 months to about 12 months where things were calmer, but we are back in the realm of extreme behaviour again. She has returned to a level of clinginess not seen since she was a newborn. She will not be put down at the park, she will not go in the buggy, she will not walk anywhere if she can be carried, she cries when people talk to her, she clings on to me as if her life depends on it. And at home she is THE ANGRIEST TODDLER EVER. We have tantrums about once every 15 minutes or so, over the most ridiculous things. She has to do and have everything the boys have. She has this odd thing going on where she is obsessive about the clothes I put on her. She strips off and redresses herself multiple times a day (I had no idea a baby of this age could get dressed until I saw it with my own eyes, but for a few months now she has been able to put on and take off tops and leggings – the only thing she hasn’t mastered is pulling the bum of her trousers over her nappy). She screams at C and L when she can’t get what she wants. She hits C over the head. She screams at nap time, at bedtime, and just generally throughout the day, sometimes for reasons I can’t even imagine. She screams when I try to do anything with either of the boys (like homework, playing or even just talking to them). She screams sometimes when I pick her up, but screams more when I try to put her down… she is very, very hard work.
C was the easiest toddler in the world. L was more of a challenge, but he was never the screaming-meltdown type. He was more silently defiant and completely impossible to control (haha). So, I can say with all honesty that if I had had baby F first, I would probably be in the throws of postpartum depression right now, because she is SO hard to be with and as an inexperienced mum I know I would be taking it a lot more personally. However, having been here before, I spend most of my time in disbelief at how crazy it all is and telling myself that I have survived these “phases” before with two other children and I will do again. I have a suspicion that a part of her behaviour originates from witnessing the boys. They obviously argue and fight with each other in a normal sibling way, but she seems to mimic this and direct it towards everyone. Our current plan, after a particularly trying day with the youngest two yesterday is to ignore anything above conversation volume. From all three of them.
It’s just three weeks until the 6 week school holiday, so I am hoping that the ignoring technique brings about some level of calm before school finishes. Trying to do anything with a 7 and 5 year old while managing a thrashing, screaming toddler is really quite hard work.
Just One Goal
I’ve downloaded a trial of a task manager called Things 3 for the Mac. I used Things 2 for quite a long time before switching to Omnifocus, but of late I have found Omnifocus only working in one direction. I would record all my todos in Omnifocus all the time, but even after watching tutorials and setting up custom-perspectives I still can’t find a view that makes sense to my brain in order to check through my list and tick things off. I have hundreds of items in there, and everything just ends up being so cluttered all the time, I never view them. So in all my tasks go, and I never check anything off – I just rely on memory to do it, which is a totally ridiculous way to use a piece of software.
Things 3 has been redesigned completely and I have to say it is beautiful to use and exceedingly well thought out. I have been very impressed with it so far and have now spent the £10 to get the app on my phone. It syncs between desktop and phone, but the desktop app is just shy of £50 which is a lot of money. So, I’ll see how the trial goes for two weeks, then I’ll get by with my phone and maybe at the start of next month I might pay for the desktop app. We’ll see.
Two things that I have decided on are that:
a) I want to try putting everything else aside and focusing on one goal only, until completion. I’ve never really worked that way before and a lot of my projects take years to complete. I have always spread myself thinly across lots of different hobbies/projects because I have a flighty mind. I’m starting to think that this is just a really inefficient and unrewarding way of working that leaves me prone to regular feelings of overwhelm. So, I’m relegating pretty much EVERYTHING to “someday”. Even the mental lightness of knowing I don’t have to do it all now is wonderful. I’m also thinking I might start timing work on goals. I already record everything I do for work in Toggl, so I’ll just create a new workspace for personal goals and then I can see exactly how long things are taking me. It will be quite cool to see how many hours I spend completing goals too, as it will give me more of an idea of what is achievable.
b) I need to get back to a more minimalistic way of living. I was very focused on paring things back when we were trying for baby F, mainly because everything seemed so superfluous to getting pregnant and having a baby. Since her birth though, I have lost my way a bit. The result is a far more cluttered house (which also adds to horrible feelings of complete overwhelm). I know that there has to be a line between practicality and minimalism when you have three children, but I think I have started to slip back into allowing things to accumulate in our living space that we don’t really need. Rampant consumerism makes me feel like I am not taking care of myself, or the planet. We do not need SO much of what we all own.
Ensuring I am vigilant enough to keep the worst of it out of my life (novelty gifts and plastic toys sold for pence that destroy our environment and end up as landfill), is something I have realised I can never stop doing. It is quite sad that when you let down your guard your home fills mysteriously with crap. So anyway, I want to get back to a more minimal mindset and way of living. Too much choice is even more overwhelming for children than it is for adults. Have you ever taken a child to Toys R Us with some pocket money? It’ll be two hours of anguish to decide how to spend it, and you can pretty much bet they’ll still cry on the way home because they’ve made the wrong decision.
So there we go. Focus focus focus, on the essential and only the essential is what I’m going to be trying to do. I’ll still be running, blogging and doing all the things that I need to do to run a house and look after the children, but my personal time (what little there is), will be better directed now, I hope.