It’s double the work with no increase to pay, and especially hard if they are close in age. You will have very little time to yourself (good luck drinking that hot cup of tea) and you may find yourself having more meltdowns than your toddler and more crying fits than your newborn. So how do other parents do it? Why aren’t they all dropping like flies from exhaustion?
Because parents of two or more children have learned to adjust their expectations and they take time to find short-cuts. There are only so many hours in a day and you only have two hands. Only so much can be done and the sooner you realize this the better. There will be double the messes, double the trouble, and double the accidents. But also double the slobbery kisses and cuddles, so I can honestly say that having multiple children is totally worth it! The following are things that will help you survive life with two or more young kids:
The Video Monitor
This will be your best friend when you have a second child. Think of this: when you are finally able to put your newborn down to sleep, you will be able to shove that video monitor in your back pocket and run out the door with your toddler because he has been asking to go outside since you all woke up before the sun was up!
Whether you are inside or outside, a good video monitor will give you freedom to spend the quality time your oldest child so desperately needs from you with the reassurance that baby is still safely sleeping in his crib.
A Stocked Diaper Bag
I’m not going to lie, I have been that mom that has had a baby poo emergency in the middle of a parking lot only to find zero diapers/wipes in her diaper bag. A couple of times, actually. And with no one to blame but myself. How does this happen, you ask? I would just plain forget to check the supply before we leave, because getting out the door is the busiest time of the day!
A wise friend of mine recently told me that she has decided to restock her diaper bag nightly to avoid this issue altogether. How brilliant is that? While I have yet to actually do this, it seems like a pretty amazing idea since poo emergencies are the absolute worst. Apparently I am a glutton for punishment, but you don’t have to be!
Goodbye to leaning awkwardly over to wash baby in a baby tub. Hello to family baths! If you can fit your two children and yourself in a bath tub, it’s like giving three baths all in one go! It is such a time saver, saves your back and provides much needed entertainment for your kids.
My baby is especially wiggly and splashy so going right in with him gives me more control. It also provides extra bonding time! Some may not be interested in this but it was an eureka moment for me when I was having a hard time getting all of us clean regularly. And think of your savings on water! (disclaimer: you may want to spray down a child who is especially dirty prior to getting into the bath with them, especially after poo emergencies like #2).
Lying Down to Nurse
With your first child chances are you were able to nap occasionally through the day, so waking up five times in the night to feed your newborn was tolerable, while obviously not fun. With your second child, however, you will be up five times through the night but may not have an opportunity to catch a nap unless your older child is in school or daycare.
The only way I survived the first six months of my son’s life was by lying down to feed at night as it provided me the most amount of sleep possible. Just make sure that if you may fall asleep while nursing lying down make sure that you do so in a safe manner. Sleep is the second most important thing postpartum (besides air, of course) so please make time for it!
Feeding Baby in Public
Having an older child at home with you and baby means that there will be a need to face the world regularly. While you are shuttling your preschooler from various activities your beautiful baby is going to have to eat. Often. At the most inopportune times. The sooner you become comfortable feeding your baby in public, the better.
With practice it will just become like any necessary activity, as that is exactly what it is. Whether you use a nursing cover, sling, nursing shirts or just lift your normal shirt up, good job feeding your baby when he is hungry.
Do whatever it is that makes nursing in public convenient and comfortable, because there may be times where you have nowhere private to go and your baby is screaming to be fed. If you formula feed, please don’t feel like you are a lesser mother and don’t try to hide it. You are an amazing mom for feeding and caring for your child regardless of method.
A Noise Machine
During the newborn stage most babies could literally sleep through a tornado. This changes quickly. At around three months of age they seem to all of a sudden wake up and decide that your noisy house is not conducive to them napping anymore. And less napping means that they become overtired and therefore do not sleep through the night. Ouch! Enter noise machine.
Having constant white noise in the baby’s room makes all of the toddler screams and dog barks and car door slams blend together so that baby is not jarred awake by abrupt noises. I will put my vote to anything that helps my child sleep better!
Chances are by the time you have your second child you will have built relationships with other moms in the same area. Having moms to support you and vent to is a life saver. Plus mommy play dates allow you to have adult conversations (mind you they will mostly revolve around your children) while your kids burn off energy and spend time with kids their age.
Double win! The buddy system works well when you are out and about trying to keep your kids in check. Chances are your mom friend will have no issues helping your preschooler get her shoes on while you are nursing your infant, making going out in public places a lot less daunting. There is safety in numbers.
The Perfect Stroller
All moms have various stroller needs dependent on many life factors including ages of your children, what terrain you will be walking on, and whether you will be packing it up in your car often. My purpose is not to tell you which stroller to buy, but to tell you that finding the easiest means to mobilize your family will make your life easier!
I personally used a double stroller with a car seat attachment in the beginning, but as my kids got older we have transitioned to a single three wheeled stroller with a space in the back where my oldest can stand if she gets tired. I have seen other moms have success with other options like sit-and-stand strollers, wagons, umbrella strollers, slings and baby carriers etc. Research your options and invest in a good method. You can buy all sorts of high-end strollers in great shape on sites like Kijiji which are much more budget-friendly than the $800 brand new option.
Congratulations, you are no longer a newbie! It is true that every child will be different, but the extra knowledge you have acquired sure does help when your child spikes a temp in the middle of the night or has a bright red diaper rash that won’t go away.
Having this background knowledge means less time spent in the ER for illnesses ultimately treatable at home. Even small tasks that used to feel so daunting will now become a cake walk. I remember with my first child I was so deathly afraid of cutting her little nails that I would try to accomplish this task while she was sleeping. It would take forever and it sometimes would even wake her up (what was I thinking?!). Now it takes no time at all even while having to struggle with a wide-awake squirmy baby. Why? Because I now have the confidence that I lacked when I was a new parent.
Having a second child has been one of the most rewarding, yet exhausting experiences. But hey, there are always ways to make life easier. Hopefully keeping the above suggestions in mind will alleviate some stress and make you feel more confident in taking care of multiple children.
If you are doing your best, then you are doing it right!
Happy parenting, Mamas!