Personally I always found that a dark room, a familiar blanket and some soothing music helped considerably. The trouble was, the screaming Small normally spoilt it, so I also had to find some way of calming him down.
Through frantic trial and error I found the following helped:
- Cradling Small in my arms and swinging from side to side, rotating at the hips.
- Cradling Small in my arms and rocking sideways from foot to foot, extending up onto toes for more vigorous rocking.
- Gentle bouncing – with Small’s head cupped in my hand, his back along my forearm, his feet either side of my upper arm I would bicep curl him up and down. If necessary I would add a gentle sway from side to side.
Extreme situations called for all three at once.
In an attempt to reduce the manual labour involved, for Small 3 we purchased a mechanical swing cradle/seat. Powered by batteries, it rocked Small back and forth or sideways, depending on how it was configured, keeping him soothed whilst I could get on with something else. It was expensive and only of use for about 6 months before he became too heavy for it but it was invaluable: it provided 20 minutes first thing each morning to get vital supplies of coffee on board and to drag myself awake enough to cope. After the six months it was still in perfect condition (even the original batteries still going) and we sold it to recoup half the purchase price so we considered it money well spent.
- Going for a walk with Small in the backpack or in the pushchair.
- Going out with Small on the back of the bicycle.
- Going for a drive in the car.
The first two options were rather too public on the occasions that Small decided not to calm down. The bicycle was a particularly bad option when that occurred because it looked like I was forcing Small to do something he really didn’t want to. So, after a couple of failures I dropped it in case the local authorities decided to pay a friendly visit.
When you have more than one Small, things can get tricky. Invariably, when I paid attention to one Small, by rocking for instance, the other would start to play up. My number one solution was therefore to do something that would calm Small 1 whilst entertain Small 2. This meant a tour around the town in the tandem buggy.
The tandem buggy was like a juggernaut. With two Smalls on board it weighed in at 50kg. That was quite a bit of weight to push around a town made up of 10% gradient hills. It was hard on the legs, shoulders and lungs on the ups and put a strain on the hamstrings on the downs because there were no brakes to mitigate the inexorable drag of gravity.
In addition to the pushing was the lifting. Due to the buggy’s design, the heaviest of the Smalls needed to sit up front, putting most weight at the end furthest from the pivot point when it came to levering the front wheels up to mount kerbs. This was exacerbated by the very short extension handle which providing no leverage when pushing down on it to raise the front wheel. The local authority had not thought hard about wheelchairs and pushchairs so there were few breaks in the kerbs meaning a fair weight training session by the time a circuit of the town was completed.
Usually both Smalls dropped off to sleep. However, there was no point going back to the house because I couldn’t get the tandem inside without collapsing it. That would mean taking the Smalls out, which would wake one or both up. So I ended up walking around for an hour, up and down the hills with my 50 kg miniature juggernaut. Providing it wasn’t chucking down with rain it was quite pleasant, it kept me fit and provided a quiet time once a day. But it was dicey when icy.
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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