I had just about had it yesterday. I was ready to pull all my hair out, or sell Jonah to the circus and use the money to move to Australia, or maybe even lose my temper in a way that I might just regret. It seems that I couldn't turn my back on Jonah or Caroline for a single second without one of them attacking the other, or dragging out everything in my bathroom cabinets. They couldn't play near each other, and Caroline wasn't allowed to even look at any of Jonah's toys without eliciting an ear piercing screech that might just have deafened our dog.
I was worn out. I had almost nothing left hold onto my last shred of patience with either of them. I was praying to God for 11 am (yes, it was that bad) so my mother would come and watch the kids so I could go teach class.
When I got back from school Caroline was asleep and Jonah was occupied, so I called Amy. I met Amy in college, but we weren't all that close. It's just been in the last few years that we've gotten to know each other better through facebook and blogs that I've started to realize that I should have befriended her a long time ago.
Amy has four daughters between 7 years and under 1 year, so I knew that she had to deal with this herself. I laid it out and we chatted about half an hour before Caroline woke up and I had to go. She did give me some good advice, but mostly she just listened and commiserated and encouraged me.
Rule #5: Ask for help.
You will not believe how much better yesterday afternoon went. The kids played nicely and no one came whining to me while I tried to make dinner. Do I think that there was magic involved? Possibly, but the magic had to be on me, and not on the kids. That part all goes back to Rule #3: Set the tone. The reality is that I needed some help. I didn't necessarily need a break from the kids, I just needed to be refocused and encouraged. Maybe some other time I will need a break, or maybe I'll need someone to do something more serious, like come do laundry after Baby X comes in January. You need different things at different times, but often, what you really need is to get a little help.