It's been seven plus months since we brought Issie home. And I wish I could say that I have it all together, that our days are super productive and organized and everyone is always happy and blissfully singing songs of joy. I am keeping it real.
However, looking back on those first few weeks when it was just me and a toddler and a newborn, I think I did pretty good. When my husband got home from work everyone was (relatively) clean, fed and still alive. We had succeeded in not burning the house down.
Jason went back to work a week to the day after Issie was born. So it was just me... alone... in a house with a newborn and an 18-month-old who wondered when we were going to return that baby that just kept screaming.
I wanted to share with you some of the ways I managed. Let me just say I am not an expert. I often feel harried, disorganized and frustrated. I live in sweatpants and cardigans that have spit up on them. I am the farthest thing from perfect. And if I can do it, you will be fine.
1. Stage the house. I had diapers and wipes stashed in every room of the house, for both babies. I kept a stack of both size diapers in my bedroom, the kitchen, the living room, each of the baby's rooms. etc. etc. That way I could just lay a baby on the floor and change them in a flash.
2. Find some ways to keep the toddler entertained while you nurse. Okay, this is easier said than done. But in those early days newborns are not efficient eaters and one feeding can take an hour and then an hour later you have to do it all again.
Poor Ry, he felt chained to the living room where I was feeding Issie. So, I put a basket of small toys, books and games next to the recliner where I fed the baby. If Ry got bored I would hand him a new one.
This didn't always work the way I wanted it to, but I think it made Ry feel like I wasn't ignoring him.
3. Never underestimate the power of snacks. When it was time to feed Issie I would try to give Ryals a snack, or I would put him in his high chair for lunch or breakfast. I moved the chair into the livingroom with me so he was near me while he ate and I fed the baby.
Or, I would give him a very small snack like grapes, raisins or Teddy Grahams.
Cute story, onetime I went to the bathroom and when I came out I caught Ry trying to feed his brother a Teddy Graham.
4. Defer to your toddler. My old college roommate reminded me that if both my babies were hungry, a newborn has no clue why their needs aren't being met and won't likely remember he wasn't picked up right away or had to wait five minutes longer for a feeding. But a toddler knows why mama is distracted. I didn't want to breed resentment in Ry. So if both babies were crying I tried to meet the needs of my older child first.
5. Newborn nap time = toddler playtime. I know people say "sleep when the baby sleeps" but when you stack your children like I did, that's just not going to happen. Accept it. When Issie napped, that was when I hung out with Ry. We played in his room, we snuggled, we read books. We did what he wanted to do. He needed to know that he was still my main man.
6. Hangout in the "big boy room."I am not pushing my son to be a big boy. But that's what I called his room after Issie was born. We would hang out in the big boy room when Issie wasn't eating and the baby often napped in Ry's old swing while we played.
7. Expect regression and go with it... a little. My sister reminded me that Ry was still a baby, just a bigger baby. So when he wanted to be rocked before nap time, or given a bottle of milk or play with newborn toys, I let him. This may seem like indulging him, but he was just 18 months and his world totally changed. A little indulging wasn't going to ruin him for life.
8. You can't do it all. Some days will be awful. Accept it and move on. You're not perfect, your kids aren't perfect. Some days might be crying from sun up til dad gets home. Some days will be spent trying to keep your children from waking each other during dueling nap times and one day your toddler might hit the baby with the remote control. Take a deep breath, and move on.
My son watched so much Super Why those first few weeks. I felt incredibly guilty, then I got over it.
9. Pray. Every morning I still pray for the peace and patience to get through the day. I cant do it on my own and I don't want to. I need Jesus.