By Chrys Balis
“What’re they doing in there?” my spouse and I wondered as we settled in for the evening.
Ever since our twin toddlers made the move from crib to bed we’ve grown accustomed to kissing them goodnight, turning out the light and hearing them scamper about for a little while behind the closed door. Eventually they make it back into bed. But this night the usual thumping was followed by a scream. We rushed in to find the lights on and our 3-year-old daughter Sophie sitting atop a long plastic under-the-bed storage container and giggling. The muffled screams from beneath her was our 3-year-old twin son, George, trapped inside. We immediately freed him.
Whether they’re being cute or naughty (or both), kids never cease to astonish, but sometimes our hearty chuckles give way to maniacal laughter once some final straw drives us insane at last. I’m home with three kids under 3 (twins George and Sophie, and 13-month-old Nathaniel), and every day is peppered with small moments I’ll treasure until my last breath. However, not an hour goes by that I don’t at some point have one child trying to climb me like a tree as another throws wooden blocks across the floor just to rankle me, while the third erupts with so much poo it requires an emergency bath. So while I’m not going to say that I’ve been keeping sane, I have discovered that some things can significantly help:
- Get them into preschool. It’s criminal how expensive preschools can be in Los Angeles, with tuitions of $10,000 or much, much more. But for those who meet certain (usually income-based) criteria, there are low-cost or no-cost alternatives out there. We found a comparatively reasonable one near us that took the twins in at age 2 ½ – and it didn’t happen a moment too soon. We can barely afford it, but we’re finding a way because of two very important reasons: 1) to preserve my sanity three days a week and 2) most importantly, really, to prepare them for kindergarten and beyond. Many studies have established the importance of preschool on a child’s journey through life. According to a major study published through the National Education Administration (NEA), kids who went to pre-K had better chances at graduating high school, holding a job and avoiding the lure of criminal activity than those who did not. Here’s a link to aid in your search for free or affordable preschool (depending on your household income) through California’s Department of Education.
- Schedule time for yourself, even if it’s 15 minutes within a given day. Meditate, organize your linen closet; whatever it is that relaxes you, do it. Their naptime can’t always be your naptime, but make the most of it in any way you can.
- Arrange an outing. Depending on your children’s ages, with enough can-do attitude you can take them somewhere fun. A trampoline park, a zoo, an aquarium or just a nice, fenced-in playground. They don’t want to hang out at the house all day any more than you do.
- If you stay home, break the day up into a flexible schedule of activity. For example, after breakfast, it’s art time (finger paint for the baby and crayons for the twins). After morning snack, it’s books time! After lunch, it’s backyard play, and so on until bedtime.
- If you have to walk out of the house for a 15-second breather, it can work a small wonder in easing some of the tension building up inside you. Just make sure the kids are safe before you step out.
Above all, remember that everything is temporary. Snatch up the good stuff as it flows past you, and trust the current of time to eventually unhitch the snags in its push forward.