After yesterday's post, we got the following comment in the comments section. I decided that this needed an immediate response, but am giving a bit more detail and organization to my thoughts in a post today.
Here's the comment:
I'd love a post on surviving with a toddler/preschooler and a newborn, especially if you have zero help, or may only get help for a few days up to a week post-birth. We have no one around, they have to drive almost 2 hours and most certainly wouldn't stay very long, since they have other responsibilities. Suggestions for feeding/dealing with clothes/entertaining while you are exhausted and NEED sleep, specifically, would be appreciated.
And this is my response:
Going from one child to two is the hardest transition. Before I had kids, I had a list of things I'd never do. When I had one, that list got shorter. By the time I had two, that list was even shorter. Now that I have four, it's almost non-existent. Lol. For example, when I had just one child I swore two things: I'd never have a child who ran around and/or screamed in a restaurant (because my first child was an absolute angel about whom my husband and I received compliments all the time!) and I would never be "that mom" that nursed her baby for all to see. Oh how I ate my words when baby #2 came along! That boy was our most humbling experience to date as a baby! Not only did he scream (and eventually run around) in restaurants, but it wasn't unusual for me to be seen nursing him AT THE TABLE! *feigns shock*
I know most of you are shaking your head and thinking I'm ridiculous here. But honestly, I was committed to those two things. Not anymore! You see, my second son was a sick baby (ear infections, acid reflux, colic...). He was miserable most all of the time in the first several months and it was all I could do to get through a day. The rules I'd made for myself went out the window and I realized that some of them just didn't matter. Does this mean that I'm proud to have a child screaming in a restaurant? No! I still find it embarrassing, but life goes on and I now know that sometimes it doesn't matter how good a mom you are, the baby will still scream.
So, here's my advice:
1. A somewhat rigid schedule is a must! In my experience with my own four kids, having younger brothers growing up, and watching other people's kids, the large majority of children thrive on a consistant schedule. Because of this, you should arrange bedtime, naptime, meal times, etc so they occur, for the most part, at the same time each day for your older child. The consistency will reduce (but definitely not eliminate) meltdowns. In time, they learn what to expect and when. Sticking to this schedule after a newborn's arrival in the family makes the older child's adjustment to their new role a little easier which in turn makes it a little easier on you.
2. Movie time! When you need a break, set your older child up with a movie that they'll watch even if only for 5 minutes. I'm sure I'll get comments on this. Some see this as letting the TV babysit your child. If this is your only way to get a couple of minutes to yourself, do it and don't feel bad about it. What's worse- a few minutes of Sesame Street or a nutty Mommy? Lol.
3. Use naptime to your advantage. If your toddler/preschooler still naps, arrange theirs around the baby and not the other way around. This way, you'll get the most mommytime that you can and maybe even a nap. When mine were younger, I'd keep the older one up a little longer or nap them a little earlier depending on when the baby napped in the afternoon. This way, I could take a nap too or even get a shower. If you don't have naptime anymore, it's time to make quiet time. Your older child MUST stay in their room for quiet time. If your baby is sleeping in there, then pick another room for your older child. This one isn't easy to get going but definitely worth it!
4. If you have a kid that goes crazy during baby feeding time, read books to him/her then, set up some playdoh in your line of sight (my 19 month old loves it), give them a small snack at the table, etc. to get them distracted and keep them occupied so you can finish feeding your baby.
5. Set up a drawer in your fridge with juice boxes that your kids can reach and a drawer or cabinet in the kitchen for snacks that you're okay with your child having so that if you're busy with the baby when your older child announces his/her hunger or you're too tired to tear your butt off the couch (been there), you can send them to the kitchen to get a drink and snack themselves. I've taken this one a step further when pregnant with my second and too sick to stand in the first three months and had my oldest bring ME a juice box. We looked pretty cute sucking on Winnie the Pooh juice boxes together, but hey, he felt helpful and the apple juice helped settle my stomach. It was a win-win.
6. On the good days, make extra meals you can freeze and use later on the bad days. Also, don't feel bad about serving cereal every morning. It's easy, you can add fruit and milk to it, and kids love it. We do cereal almost every day to this day. My oldest is going to be 11 on Sunday too!
7. Make one or two rooms completely safe so you aren't constantly saying no and running after a toddler while tired. We have our living room pretty safe and I am able to gate it off so that my youngest can't get into any trouble. Remember to plug outlets, remove important paper piles, and don't put out too many toys or you'll have to clean them all up!
8. Start a load of laundry every morning when you get up and put it in the dryer before you go to bed. If it builds up too much, you'll get overwhelmed and eventually someone will run out of underwear! Lol. Trust me on this one. And along the same lines, if you like to separate your laundry, set up several baskets so it can happen as the baskets fill. We keep two baskets in our bathroom so colors can go in one and whites can go in the other. This saves me time later.
9. Take it one day at a time. Remember, it will seriously get better!
If anyone else has more suggestions, please leave them as a comment on this post! I'm sure there are lots of mommies who'd appreciate it!