Deep Breaths: When Chaos Is The New Normal : The Baby Project Life with two kids under 2 is giving Christy Lilley a run for her money. She says she has to constantly remind herself to lower her expectations and remember what's important.
NPR logo Deep Breaths: When Chaos Is The New Normal

Deep Breaths: When Chaos Is The New Normal

Christy with her daughter Diana, who is now a month old. Courtesy of Christy Lilley hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Christy Lilley

Christy with her daughter Diana, who is now a month old.

Courtesy of Christy Lilley

Diana turned one month old this week. I cannot believe a whole month has gone by already. Where has the time gone? Every day for the past three weeks, I have had the best intentions of sitting down and writing a blog post, and each day has come and gone, and I have not been able to find the time. I couldn't tell you all what I've done in those three weeks, but I know I've been going nonstop from morning till night and free time is a thing of the past.

Life with two kids under 2 is definitely challenging. I love having two, but it's crazy at times. Sometimes it's just about as difficult as I expected, and others, it's so much harder. Things will be going just fine, and then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose and everything changes in an instant. Usually someone ends up crying — and more often than not that person is me.

The challenge right now is not so much Diana, but James. At 21 months old, he is a ball of energy and is going every minute. "No" is his favorite word, and temper tantrums are an everyday occurrence. He's started to act out a lot more and show his jealous side. He gets rough with Diana, throwing toys and cups, hitting her and trying to jump on her. It's hard not to get frustrated with him, but I try to remind myself that he's practically still a baby himself and doesn't know any better.

Christy says her 21-month-old son James is starting to show his jealous side toward Diana. He'll throw toys and cups, hit her and try to jump on her. But he's also really sweet — he'll bring her a blanket or pacifier. Courtesy of Christy Lilley hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Christy Lilley

Despite his rambunctious behavior, there are also a lot of sweet moments between them, when James will kiss Diana or try to be helpful by bringing her a blanket or a pacifier. He often tries to share his food and toys with her, which is really cute. Hearing him ask for "baby" or "Annie," as he calls her, and watching his eyes light up when he sees her melts my heart.

I'm struggling to figure out how to manage both kids when it seems like they both always need me at the same time. One has a dirty diaper, then the other needs to be changed. One is hungry, then the other needs to be fed. One is crying, then the other starts. One won't nap, then the other wakes up. You get the picture.

About Christy

Christy Lilley, 32, lives in Charlotte, N.C. Already the parents of a toddler, she and her husband, Jim, welcomed Diana Marie on July 7.

I want to be a good mom to both of my children, but sometimes that seems impossible. When I play with James, I feel like I'm neglecting Diana, and when I hold Diana, I feel like I'm neglecting James. For me, the toughest part is trying to entertain and keep an eye on James while I'm nursing Diana. Leave him alone or turn your back for a minute, and he's up to no good. I've resorted to bribing him with M&M's, Goldfish crackers and videos on YouTube. I figure if it keeps him quiet and out of trouble for a few minutes, it's worth it.

Then there's our dog, Max. Poor thing follows me around from room to room looking for just a little bit of attention. If I'm sitting on the couch holding James and Diana, he will jump on me and nudge his way between the three of us to get close to me. The way he looks at me with those sad eyes and pouty face make me feel the worst of all.

At first getting both kids in and out of the car to take James to school overwhelmed me. The whole thing was quite a process. I'd end up sweating and frustrated, swearing to never leave the house again. So I decided it was best to overcome my fears and take both kids out in public by myself.

One afternoon, we headed to the local children's museum. I took a ton of gear, snacks, diapers and milk. Luckily, Diana fell asleep in the car, and I was able to put her car seat in the stroller and push her around while I played with James.

Diana in a shopping cart on one of Christy's recent shopping trips. Courtesy of Christy Lilley hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Christy Lilley

We were only there an hour and a half, but I was really proud of myself. James was having fun, Diana was sleeping, and I felt like a great mom out with my two kids. I even texted pictures to the grandparents on my phone bragging about my accomplishment.

Then came closing time. The museum staff was trying to get everyone out, and of course James did not want to leave. He started crying, screaming "no" and took off running. The minute I started to chase him with the stroller in tow, Diana woke up starving. Then she was screaming and needed to eat ASAP. I finally caught up with James and had no choice but to pick him up despite his full-on tantrum. I tried to find the nearest exit, but could hardly push the stroller while holding my screaming newborn because my screaming toddler was kicking me with all his might.

So much for being proud of myself.

I wasn't texting pictures anymore. Thankfully, Jim showed up right at that moment to surprise us on his way home from work. I handed James off to him, told him to deal with it, and left with Diana. I'm ready to try going out in public again, but this whole experience has given me a new appreciation for single parents and parents of multiples.

Chaos is definitely the new normal in our house. The house is often in shambles with toys and baby stuff everywhere. I'm trying to accept that, but it's not easy for me with my anal personality. I started trying to set my expectations lower, live with the mess, and only aim to accomplish one or two tasks each day. Still, I often struggle to complete those one or two tasks, and I end up feeling upset and overwhelmed at the end of the day.

I constantly have to stop, take a deep breath, and remind myself of what is really important. We have two beautiful, healthy kids, and that's all that matters. The other stuff can be done tomorrow or the next day. I tell myself to relax and enjoy this time in my life. Before long, both kids will no longer be babies, and I know I'll wish for the days when I was nursing one with the other hanging on my leg while the dog lies on my lap.