Three years ago, I would never have thought that three years down the line I would have a toddler and a newborn, and have achieved everything I have so far. I always knew I wanted children close together, but never really thought about the stress, emotions and graft that comes with it.
Life with a toddler and a newborn is tough. I’m not going to sugar coat it. But let me tell you this...it is so rewarding and the good times far outweigh the hard ones.
Before My Second
My first son, George, was hard work as a newborn. He didn’t sleep, was very clingy and always seemed to be unsettled. Whilst this phase didn’t last long in reality, at the time when you‘re suffering from lack of sleep and ”me time”, every day felt like a week. By the time he was about six months old, he started to become the chilled-out, happy little boy he is today (minus a few two-year old tantrums). Thank goodness!
As this was my only experience of a newborn, I thought Max would be the same. During the pregnancy with Max, I was constantly told that “two babies are never the same“ by various people and began telling myself that surely, Max couldn't be any worse!
But how an earth can you predict how you’re going to feel or how a newborn is going to be. All you can do is live in the here and now and try not to think about it.
The Here And Now
Now that Max is here, I can confidently say that things are much easier than I thought they would be. I think this has a lot to do with me thinking “worst case scenario” about the whole situation. I thought I’d be tearing my hair out by now and seeking sleep at every corner.
The way you feel has a lot to do with your mental attitude and what people say and tell you based on their experiences, or what you read, which doesn’t help. Everything I heard or read was negative - you never hear how well someone’s children behaved, mainly because when you look back, you don't really remember those times.
I appreciate that not all parents and children are the same, so some will find it harder than others.
What’s Helped Me?
The biggest help for me has been the help I’ve received from my parents and in-laws. During the week, Greg is in work and I’m at home with the boys. But three times a week, George visits grandparents and goes to nursery, which is a huge help for my sanity - plus, he loves it. Although, none of this has been happening since the UK has gone into lockdown with Covid19.
I understand that not everyone has family around to help them out and that can make things extremely hard. If that is the case for you, please make sure you go to baby and toddler groups, and see friends, especially if they have children too, as this can keep them all occupied whilst you have a chin-wag over a cuppa.
Getting The Older Sibling Involved
We’ve been getting George involved with looking after Max, which ensures he isn't left out as this was a major concern of mine. When changing Max’s nappy, George will gather all the things we need to get the job done, whilst he says “stinky Max”. Brotherly love hey?
Seeing the bond grow between siblings is the best thing ever. I can’t wait to see them play together when Max can get about by himself - don’t worry, I know it’s not always sunshine and daises. Me and my sisters were a nightmare!
A Baby Carrier
Back when we had George, we bought an Ergo Baby carrier - although we didn't really make the most of it back then. We kept this and I’ve been using it quite a lot when getting jobs done around the house. Max is very happy in there, often falling asleep. However, as he piles on the weight, the backache is getting real. I probably won’t be using it to do housework for much longer.
A Baby Swing
Before Max was born, we bought a Joie baby swing (£70 second hand). Oh my goodness this is a lifesaver. I shout it’s praises to everybody!
I will do a separate blog all about this over the next few weeks, but seriously, I don’t know what we would do without it. Its a safe, comfy place to put Max down into to sleep, having a chill or for when I need to step out of the room. He’s usually pretty happy in here the majority of the time.
I definitely recommend getting this or something similar if you have a newborn or are expecting sometime soon.
Like I said further up this blog post, mum life with a toddler and newborn has its ups and downs. All you can do is do your best. Please, please make sure you socialise with other adults and take time to relax and do things you enjoy.
Do you have young children? What do you find helps you cope during the hard times?