Okay so I’m two months in to living with two young children, just over 2 under 2. And I can honestly say, it is not that bad. Yes, sometimes it’s tough and you feel bad you can’t give your attention to both but its only for a moment and it passes before you all know it. I wish I had read, what I’m about to write, before I had Summer. These are all the things I’ve thought “Wow I’m so glad I did that before she was born” or “I’m so glad I figured this out/know this now”
(Please bare in mind, for the most part Summer is a very happy baby - sometimes these things can’t be helped. She is very greedy with her milk and pukes all over us both most days, but other than that is a very contented baby. I am very lucky she has not suffered with colic/reflux or a milk allergy, breastfeeding is going well so we haven’t had any feeding issues. This definitely contributes to how I have found this experience so far. Please don’t think if you’re struggling because your baby has any of those upsets, that I don’t understand- because I do! I also drive a car, live in a bungalow so everything’s within arms length to me and my Mum who lives 5 minutes away has also just retired so I have had a lot of help!) That being said, here are my thoughts/tips so far on two children…
1) Having a newborn all over again has been relatively the same, but no two children are exactly alike. I went into this thinking that Summer would be exactly like Oscar was as a baby. I wrote in a post (that I now die reading) about how I didn’t use muslins when Oscar was a baby and for me they were a waste of money. Never touched a dribble bib or needed a muslin nearby. WOW I am so glad I kept those muslins. Summer is so greedy with her milk and I’m also such a feeder that she’s always overfed. I’ve tried everything from breastfeeding positions, Infacol (which I’m too lazy to remember to give), breaks between feeding, sitting her up, lying her down, rocking her, not rocking her. No matter what I try differently, she just pukes 5, 6 times in a row all her milk up. Luckily it doesn’t bother her and the only downside is I change my outfit about 3 times a day and hers 4 sometimes 5!! I do have to say I am getting better at catching the sick, covering as much clothing as possible with a muslin to avoid an outfit change or just choosing me or her to be covered in sick by holding her out/lying her down just before she voms. It’s made me so conscious of people holding her. Not because I think she’s fragile or I don’t want people to hold her, but because I would be mortified, especially in public, if she puked her cottage cheese guts up all over my friends or family. It’s honestly like something out of a cheesy movie where they projectile vomit as a joke, she just sprays and sprays like a hose.
Oscar was nothing like that, yea he was sick but it was no where near as much as she is! She also won’t take a dummy - and Oscar loved his dummy. I feel like the two go hand in hand as instead of finishing a feed and then falling asleep comfort sucking a dummy, she's having a full feed and using me for comfort which means she's drinking way more milk than she needs, hence the vomming. I used to think Mum’s must’ve been doing something wrong and that it was really weird if their baby didn’t take a dummy. How can a baby not take a dummy? But no, Summer just looks around really disgusted and licks it like she has no idea what it is, then spits it out. She’s taken it a few times but never consistently. So the two beautiful Wubbanubs I had ready to give to her, a little pink deer and a pink duck - both wasted! And had I not had any muslins left from when Oscar was a baby, oh boy I would be stocking up by the tens.
2) Newborn’s really don’t need toys. It’s crazy to me now to think about how often I stuck toys infront of Oscar’s face when he was a baby. He had dangling toys from his playmat, toys hanging from the pram, toys over his bouncy chair. I used to wave them in his face. Through literally just not having the time or energy to ‘play’ with Summer and get some toys out for her, I’ve realised she really doesn’t need them. I get so many smiles from her just shoving my goofy face infront of hers or singing to her and blowing raspberries on her tummy. It’s saved a lot of space, clutter, crap, colour and mess in the house not having baby toys out just yet. Everything’s still very neutral just the way I like it. Oscar also loves playing with her, giving her kisses and putting his arms round her, that she definitely gets lots of interaction.
3) Toddlers don’t do ‘quiet’. Oscar is 2 years and 1 month old and he can talk a lot. He is very good at saying “Shhh, quiet, Summer’s sleeping” but then will bash his toys around in the toy box, shout and sing at the top of his voice and then give her a kiss and point in her eyeballs and say “Eyes”. He isn’t old enough yet, I don’t think, to grasp the concept that if he makes noise it will wake her up and we don’t want to wake her up. I’ve been using white noise a lot, she really responds to it. And (again, I’m in a bungalow so easier said than done) but she has been having a few sleeps in our bedroom, off the lounge, in her Chico Next2Me bed, with the lights off and the white noise on. It’s usually 8-9:30am that she sleeps in there and has a solid nap while Oscar has his breakfast and if it’s a nursery day then she will have that nap in the car. It’s been really handy to have a place where she can just have some quiet time to herself and not be disturbed so she can have a proper nap instead of just short cat naps here and there and always being woken up. I try to put her to sleep in there as often as I can. Otherwise she will just sleep on me or in the Rock and Play bed in the lounge.
4) Cluster feeding still sucks and the evenings can feel like they go on forever. I aim for a 9:30 bedtime for myself, which may seem really early but I’ve not felt tired once yet! Even with Summer waking a few times a night for a feed, my FitBit still says I get 7 hours sleep a night. Any parent will know that bedtime routine starts around 5. Dinner starts, bit of TV, Bath, PJs, story book, drink, teddies, another story and then bedtime. Whatever and however long your routine is, with one child you can take a deep breath when it’s all over and zone out until you yourself go to bed. Spend time with your partner, watch TV, have dinner. With a child and a newborn its just non stop. Summer will fuss and whinge feeding all evening. I eat dinner most nights one handed and some nights I think had I been a first time Mum I probably would’ve packed in the breastfeeding. It’s tiring and you feel like they’re just crying at your boobs because they’ve sucked you dry. They feel so empty and limp that you think there can’t possibly be any more milk in there how are they still feeding! But I have soldiered on, because I know how breastfeeding gets so easy and is such a great, lazy way to feed them, once you get past the tough bit. I do actually find that even though she feeds a lot from 8-10, she does then sleep in big chunks through the night. Being in the lounge, with the lamps and the TV on also seems to make it a lot worse, so if you find your baby is fussing, just head to a quiet room, dim the nights, put some white noise on and let her focus on feeding instead of being distracted by the new episodes of Luther.
5) Have faith in your toddler. Oscar really has shocked and impressed me more than I could ever imagine during this whole experience so far. I think it’s his age most importantly but also who he is as a person. He is very sensitive and kind and loves to cuddle. This has made it really easy to just cosy up on the settee and watch a Disney movie with Summer on the boob and Oscar cuddling into the other side. He is so content just feeling loved and it’s been really easy to still make him part of the picture and not feel left out with the new arrival here. Many months ago when Oscar started to really hate going in the pram, I thought we were doomed and that he would always be running off and it would be mayhem trying to be anywhere out with them. But him not using his pram with me for a good six months, has given us the time to practice staying close, holding my hand, crossing the road when I say, following me etc etc. I haven’t once needed a double pram, because he is such a pleasure (now)… to walk beside me. If you’re 6 months pregnant and noticing changes in you’re eldest that you’re worried might impact your routine when the baby is here, just see it as a chance to focus on those issues and iron them out while you can before the baby comes!
6) Embrace the madness! When they’ve both been crying and I can’t hear myself think, I have honestly just laughed. Because what else can you do. A toddler has like a two second rebound so even if you see to the baby first, as soon as you fix whatevers bothering the toddler, they’ll be fine. And if you have to do something for 10 seconds and need to put the baby down and they cry, that’s fine too. A baby can cry for 10 seconds and will be fine. Everyone will be fine! Just power through, be efficient, quick and give extra cuddles to the eldest if you didn't pick them first! Try to balance housework with cuddles if you can, that washing can wait if your toddler wants a hug, but at the same time it’s important not to forget about the house otherwise you’ll just feel bogged down by everything as soon as it builds up. It is difficult to grasp a balance but I find it easier to write a list down in the morning of jobs to be done and just remember you have ALL DAY to do them. Don’t get your knickers in a twist thinking it’ll be easier if you get them all done before 10 and then you can relax and enjoy the rest of the day. No. Pointless. Why tidy a kitchen before 10 when you’re there to eat three more meals each for that day, why tidy the toys up by 10 when your toddler plays with them all day and hasn’t learnt yet to put them back. Why fold and put away the first load of laundry when you have two more to go. Don’t repeat yourself and don’t rush yourself and you should feel a lot less stressed.
7) Enjoy it. Yes your toddler just pooed on the floor, you have baby sick in your hair and can’t stop staring at your flabby stomach any chance you get thinking how much you want it gone. It could be a lot worse. I’d rather be home wiping butts than in a crappy office job working with people I hate. It’s easier said than done but if you try to see all the positives in your day and how amazing it is to have children it does ease the stress of working 24/7, 100 mph. And now being on the receiving end of having a toddler, I can finally vouch for those that told me it will go so quickly. I can’t believe how quickly Oscar turned two. The days may be long but the years are so short so just embrace it all!
To be continued…