I see a lot of threads on COTH asking how people do it with kids and horses… I’ll let you in on something, it’s not easy, but it’s doable! 😉
I have a toddler, two green horses, and I work off board 5 days a week. When I first had Shannon, the kid seriously cramped my style…but as most Moms do, I made adjustments. I asked for help (thanks Mom and Mimmie!), I made sure to find situations where Shannon was welcome to come with me and hang out in her stroller if need be.
The hardest part, most of the time, is getting through chores. Cleaning stalls, feeding, haying, watering, sweeping, it all takes time. I’ve been doing it since I was young so keeping one eye on the baby while I do my work isn’t rocket science. It IS cleaning stalls, after all. I made sure to plan chores around naptime, and a lot of the time she would take her morning nap in the truck in the heat/AC (I checked on her often). She hung out in her bouncer in the barn aisle when it was empty as well. We also spent a lot of time utilizing soft carriers (mostly Mike… ;).
The one thing that I was never comfortable with doing was leaving her to sit in her stroller/pack n’ play/swing/whatever while I rode. Willow is still extremely green and I was always worried that she would spook into whatever Shannon containment device I was using, or I would fall off, get hurt, and be unable to deal with the baby. She always stays my #1 priority, and if I didn’t feel as though it was safe, I didn’t do it. Now that she’s a little bit older, I can give her jobs, like cooling out the horses for me…
Now that we are over 1,000 miles away from family and Mike is back to work, things are a little bit tricky. Also, I don’t think that it’s EVER going to warm up again, so that throws a real kink in the works as well. The other challenge is that she’s pretty mobile (and she’s well aware of that fact) so she has a hard time just chillin’ in her stroller while I get stuff done.
We had purchased a portable DVD player for our drive down here when we moved, and that’s proven to come in pretty handy. We don’t allow a lot of TV time, but it for the hour or so that it takes me to get chores done, I don’t complain as it keeps her happy. We also utilize the ‘good’ snacks for when she’s at the barn. Setting her up in the truck right outside the barn door with a movie and a snack keeps her warm, safe, and happy. At 13 months she’s way too young to really understand what’s going on and has a pretty one track mind when it comes to paying attention (in that, she doesn’t…). If there are no horses or anything else going on in the barn, she’s allowed to roam at will. 🙂
My husband is really my greatest ally when it comes to making things work. He’s 110% committed to his job as a Dad and happily shoulders more than his fair share. I used to feel really guilty about blowing out the door as soon as he got home, rattling off a list of what Shannon needed on my way by, but then I realized that it’s not babysitting that he’s doing, it’s parenting. He helped create this little monster, so he can help clean up after her. And he’s damn good at it, too. 🙂 Without him I don’t know if I would be able to juggle everything!
I hope that any Mom’s reading this realize that you CAN do the things that you set out to do before you had a baby. It might take you a little bit longer, and you’ll have to sacrifice, but it’s all worth it when you are able to find that balance. I promise! I’m about 100 years away from where I want to be with Willow, but that’s okay, because we’re all in this together!
Hopefully I’ve got this down to a science now, because we’re expecting baby #2 in October!
And you bet your dollar I’m still going to get my USDF Bronze! 😉