When one becomes two – top tips to get through the early days with 2 little ones
Second time round, I’m finding maternity leave far more of a juggling act than before. Little P simply has to fit in to the plans I have with her big bro, so she basically spends life being lugged around either in her car seat, buggy or in my arms. At the beginning I was so looking forward to the day I would have her all day to myself when M was at nursery. But turns out she had tongue tie/colic/anger management issues from 2 weeks old and my dream of a whole day of warm cuddles, calm feeds and lovely snoozes remained just that. A dream. So it was surprisingly helpful to have a demanding 3 year old to entertain at soft play or at the park so I would get out of the house. Amongst the general chaos outdoors, the stress of my bundle of fury was diluted rather than exacerbated by an otherwise silent house.
Here are my tips to coping with two small humans in the first few weeks:
- Get out. Just get out of the house. Obviously wait til you’re feeling up to it physically, but even if it’s just a wander up to the park or the post office, it’s so important to see the light of day. It may seem daunting at first – and take you 45 minutes to get everything and everyone together – but it’s so good for your sanity. Daylight, other people and perspective make toddler tantrums and grizzly babies somehow not so intense.
- Accept help. Any kind – from babysitting, to clearing up, food deliveries, washing. Don’t be proud, say YES PLEASE. You have a newborn. When else in life can you do that with no guilt?
- Give the older sibling responsibilities. This really helps to combat jealousy and make them feel involved in my experience. M loved the idea of being ‘Wipe Monitor’ and would run after me brandishing Huggies on the way to change his little sister’s nappy. The novelty soon wore off, but I think it staved off some attention seeking.
- Make a trip to Hobbycraft/Poundland and do a big shop for stuff to keep big bro or sis occupied at the table while you’re giving feeds. Simple stickers and craft kits can buy you a good half an hour!
- If you can get baby to take a bottle early on (formula or expressed milk), get Dad/grandparent/friend to do the late evening feed so you can get to bed soon after toddler and hopefully get a few hours in before the early hours. It really made me feel more human and able to cope in the day.
- There’s no harm in lowering standards round the house for a while. In fact be prepared to! (shhh to my ex-military husband with impossibly high standards will be shaking his head reading this). The truth of the matter is that some things are more important than hanging washing out. Like feeding a hungry baby, playing a game with an attention starved 3 year old in that small window of opportunity when baby is (finally) napping or actually, drinking a hot cup of tea for once.
- Do your supermarket shop online. I was dreading doing the big shop with both small people in the early days, so having initially found the online shop overwhelming and complicated (I used to enjoy doing the shopping in store and then having a cheeky Starbucks with just M), I managed to get familiar with it a few weeks before my due date. A life-saver once little P was here. Bread, milk, nappies, coffee, wine, ear plugs all just a click away.