When I first found out that I was pregnant with Evie (my oldest), I couldn’t start ‘researching’ motherhood soon enough!! I wanted to know absolutely everything, and all the possibilities, of life with a baby! My nine months was happily spent trawling forums, studying articles and taking in the advice of those brave mum’s before me. I remember thinking amongst all of this information overload that every article was written about parenting a single baby or child with no mention of older children or multiples.. I quickly dismissed this observation as irrelevant and moved on.. but now I know why! Because once there is more than just the one sweet bubba, no one has the bloody time or brain power to consider being coherent let alone writing a parenting advice article!
(Present company excluded, I am clearly Supermum/very lucky to have a husband who loves kicking me out of the house for ‘me’ time, which always equals writing)
I think while pregnant with Lola I found and read maybe one article on parenting a newborn and toddler. And when I saw it I literally pounced on my phone to inhale any expertise at all.
So lets hope some of my ‘wisdom’ from the last 6 weeks can be of some help to someone out there! Here are my top insights for tackling a newborn and toddler all at once.
- ‘Sleep when baby sleeps’ – HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
This wonderful life saving idiom is 100% only applicable for when only one child is at home! Oh I remember those sweet sweet days when Evie was a newborn.. snoozing whenever she slept, how did I possibly still think I was sleep deprived! Add a toddler to the mix and sleep deprivation is taken to a whole new level (actually more like 25 levels). If you can possibly coordinate toddler’s nap time with one of bub’s sleeps then YAY WINNING!!!! This is like Parenting Gold, lap up all the napping potential and don’t you dare consider using the time to fold laundry (because regardless of how much laundry you do, it’s always going to be bottomless).
- Don’t expect it to be the same
I definitely approached having baby number two trying to be as open minded as possible about how it could be completely different this time.. but it still knocks you sideways when something isn’t quite like last time. For me, breastfeeding has been an absolute killer with Lola! Evie always fed like a pro and I honestly put a lot of it down to me just being a natural at it. Along comes Lola and apparently all my sweet skills have departed.. 🙁 Poor latch and fussy feeding has so far equaled 6 weeks of cracked, bleeding nipples, constant blocked milk ducts, way too many sterile needles piercing blockages (seriously why would some pierce there by choice??), hot packs, ice packs, a million teary breakdowns, boobs feeling on fire and many a toe-curling, swearing attempt at a feed. There are so so many different ways things can go with a newborn, and comparing it to your first will only make you feel worse. Learn from number one, but don’t let any differences get you down.
- Find your saving grace
It may take some time to figure it out but pleeeeeease give yourself permission to look after yourself. For me, writing and being creative both helps me calm down my constantly whirling brain and takes me away from any current stresses. I’ve also realised that between 3pm and 5pm is my ‘danger zone’. It’s where I’m most likely to lose it, and if I can catch myself beforehand, prepare a cup of tea (even if it goes cold before I half finish it), or better yet have a shower (even if two mini’s have to squeeze in with me).. then I will always handle the evening so much better.
- Breathe and take stock
Common advice but remember to stop and take it all in. Lola is only 6 weeks old and I got teary today because she’s already grown out of so many things! It happens way way too fast, and only faster when you’re busy with a toddler too. Take a million photos and even more mental snapshots of those special moments between the two (or more) kids. Watching Evie figure out that Lola is here to stay and is ‘her’ baby sister is just the most stunningly beautiful thing. I need to lock these memories away.. especially for when they’re both teenage girls and fighting over the same boy.. oh god!
- You’re not the first
Not saying this in a patronising way.. but the majority of people have more than one child and survived! I actually tell myself this ALL the time when it gets tough 😉
- Meal prepping
There is no shortage of advice and recipes for successful healthy family meal prepping (just search ‘meal prepping’ on Pinterest). For the last few months of being pregnant this time, any time I made a ‘freezable’ meal for dinner I would double it and store some away in our (incredible and life saving) chest freezer. Being able to grab last minute meals out for dinner (and many lunches too.. breastfeeding makes me eat like a rugby player) and knowing they’re not filled with preservative crap has been a HUGE help.
What catches your toddler’s attention? And what can they be entertained with on their own? Because you’ll soon be hit with the stark reminder that many an hour will now be spent sitting down feeding your newborn, and nothing hurts a nipple more than a crash tackle from the big kid. Someone gave me the great advice to use my pregnant time to start teaching Evie to play on her own. I would sit in the feeding chair in her room while she played with her toys and read books. She would want me to read books to her most of the time and I figured out ways to ‘read’ from afar (yes most of the time I make the stories up).
- Loosen the reigns
Continuing on from the above.. It’s ok to loosen the reigns a bit in these early weeks. Evie has never watched so much Bananas in Pyjamas or Wiggles in her short little life!!! I’m not super keen on kids being glued to the television for distractions sake but have certainly allowed myself to ‘do whatever helps’ right now 😉
- Put Your Game Face On!
This is my corny little phrase that I mutter whenever I need that extra (huge) bit of motivation to tackle the day ahead. Some days just require a whole lot of deep breaths, stiff upper lips, coffees and power walking..
- Wakey wakey
And my last tip for tackling that newborn + toddler phase is WAKE UP FIRST! For me, this is by far the hardest, especially after a horrendous nights sleep (like last night.. 4 hours total with 2 feeding breaks in between).. but it’s like morning exercise! No one likes getting out of bed to do it but it’s never regretted. If I wake up first, shower, get dressed and made up before the kids (and possibly even get breakfast/coffee going) then the day starts off right and always feels smoother. Bear in mind I am no pro at this.. 4 out of 5 times I hit snooze.. but always regret doing so.
So there it is, my top observations on this crazy ride of being a mum of two!!! I still can’t believe it…. these two little people are mine 🙂 I love them.. even when Evie screams ‘Boobies!! Lola!! Breakfast!!’ whenever Lola cries in public.. it’s a glamorous life 😉
“Wife to someone ridiculously handsome. Mum to a sassy, hilarious little girl. Past pro events planner who you now find in my loved escape of both exploring the inspiring and FUN world of kids interiors and fashion, while writing REAL, relatable and (hopefully) humorous posts on this incredible and overwhelming parenting gig!” @_baby_bean
Elise’s Website: babybean.co