-Balance your to-do lists, ambitions, and day-to-day household demands with a focus on your babies. They won’t be babies for long so enjoy them as much as possible. And don’t let other stuff become such an “idol” that you become stressed and frustrated with your loved ones. You probably will- I have- but make it a goal not to, anyway! :-)
You know the point about getting stuff done early in the day? I’ve had to sacrifice it a bit, lately…improvise our schedule. Because we’ve had gorgeous weather and I have a little girl who would live outside if she could! Certainly, it’s okay to tell her “no”, but I want to cultivate a love of the outdoors in her, and I know it’s healthy for all of us. So, while we do still get some stuff done in the mornings, there have been some days I’ve quit before it’s all done so we can enjoy an hour or two (or more) outside before naps…and then, if naps occur, I spend that time doing my usual stuff. That’s okay, too, because my babies are my priority…so as long as I’m not getting stressed, we’re all good.
Oh- and in your routines/schedules/to-do lists, make sure there’s lots of times allotted for interaction with your babies and general childcare. It’s amazing how much time you spend nursing and changing diapers, especially in the first couple months! There were days when it seemed like that was all I did, especially since Vivi was still nursing a lot at that point. It takes a lot of time…but before you know it, seasons will change!
-Babywear. Of course, I had to mention that one, right? It really is awesome for everyone involved, though. Babywearing the baby allows you to continue to interact with your toddler and/or tackle jobs. Babywearing the toddler while the baby sleeps down lets you get snuggle time in while playing catch up. It’s easier than finagling a double stroller, or trying to hold the baby while chasing the toddler at the park. You’re already stretched thin enough it can be hard to make all of your marks. Babywearing allows you to multi-task, and that always gets a thumbs-up!
Lots of moms mention how much babywearing soothes their fussy baby- that when baby’s fussy, they can pop them in and continue with what they were doing. I haven’t experienced that, but I’m pretty sure it happens, so there’s another benefit. Babywearing has greatly helped soothe my babies, it just requires concentrated effort, too. :-) But, with one who needed to be worn 24/7 and another who has gone through different periods of needing to be worn a lot, only sleeping while worn, only falling asleep while worn, etc., babywearing has definitely saved my hide, even if it hasn’t been as much the problem solver as it is for some mamas.
-While we’re on the subject, consider tandem wearing! If you’re already well-acquainted with babywearing, the idea of wearing both kiddos probably won’t sound foreign or extreme to you at all! :-) If you’re totally new to babywearing, you should read some of my informational posts and jump in- and it’s okay to start with just one.
Tandem wearing was awesome during the first 2-3 months. Since then, I’ve only done it on occasion, when Vivi’s having one of those days where she just needs up. Timothy’s settled into taking naps in a bed at different points, so I often just wear Vivi when he’s down on those days, too.
But the first few months. Totally effected how smoothly our transition went. It was so healthy for all of us! I tandem wore daily from as soon as I could handle the weight for the first couple months. Usually we went for a tandem walk for 20-30 minutes. Usually at a time when Vivi needed me desperately, Timothy was fussy and I was having a nervous break down because oh my gosh, the house is messy. Tandem wearing meant that everyone got to feel the skin they desperately needed; getting outside got me away from what was stressing me and allowed me to re-evaluate my priorities while enjoying two content kiddos.
It really helped Vivi to know she wasn’t replaced, and that she still had as much access to me as needed. Even if you decide not to tandem wear, I strongly recommend staying open to continuing to wear your toddler- it’s definitely blessed us!
-While we’re tucking about being weird, tandem nursing was another huge transition help. I already shared in detail about our journey and the joys and challenges here. Tandem nursing helped us immensely with the replaced feeling, too, as well as being another way to calm everybody down and give everyone a piece of me- while getting away from the stuff I was working on. Breastfeeding Vivi has allowed us to carry on a special relationship, as we make certain times of the day that are just for us- or to tandem, if Timothy’s around. She loves it! We don’t tandem as often anymore, since Vivi’s main nursing sessions are at sleep times or quick sips when she gets hurt, but during the first few months, again, we did. Vivi wanted to nurse almost every time Timothy did, so I let her. She did consume less “real” food for a while, but never lost interest in food altogether, so we were good with it. In the meanwhile, I ate like a horse. I was a little afraid of “tandem” tandem…because from what people said, I thought maybe it would be harder than it looked. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for me. Vivi’s old enough to get herself latched on however she has to, and Timothy’s pretty flexible, too. I won’t say every time’s been perfectly comfortable…plenty of times when kiddos were just popped on, it wasn’t the greatest for my back or nipples, or something….but it always worked. Now, Vivi always brings me a pillow when she wants to nurse with Timothy- so cute!
-Laugh. Because there are so many beautiful things- so many funny things- so many wondrous things- and you’re going to forget them so fast. But if you make time to enjoy them, they’ll be forever imprinted in your memory. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look back on the little years and just remember all the hard times. It’s okay to remember them, to help other mamas get through them. But I want those memories to be sprinkled with so many laughing ones that I’d like to go back. And so far, that’s true. I haven’t been perfect, there’s days I wish I could change. But I have so many hilarious memories and beautiful memories. I wish I could remember them more clearly; they all fade so fast. What I do know, and will remember in the years to come is, we’re having a great time. Through the ups and downs, life is good.
-Summing up a few things I hit on somewhat in the above: remove yourself from stressful situations to give kiddos touch time and ensure your toddler (and baby, for that matter, but that’s less likely) is getting enough of you. That’s why tandem wearing and nursing worked so well for us. It might not for you- your toddler might not be interested in nursing at all, for instance. The real message is, make time to meet those needs. Take time to get away from a stressful situation before it boils over. Take time for both your little ones. It’ll make a huge difference in everyone!
-Evaluate causes of toddler’s misbehaviors. For instance, general transitions, lack of sleep (related to transitions?), not getting enough of you, feeling overwhelmed or displaced, being hungry or thirsty, etc.
As a parent heading in a direction of “gentle parenting” (so to speak), I believe many misbehaviors are connected to a deeper root problem. One that might be easily solved, and possibly isn’t even the child’s fault. I know that isn’t always the case…for instance, Vivi’s done a lot more limit-testing lately, and it’s seemed to stem from growing up- gaining maturity, discovering the world and her own mind, and seeing what she can and can’t make happen. As best as I can tell, it isn’t because of a need that isn’t being met…although at the same time, I don’t feel like it’s exactly purposeful badness, either.
I had a lot of issues with Vivi the first couple months after Timothy was born, and it was obvious that they were generally related to the transitions in some form or other. Knowing that helped me to be more patient (and less despairing!) in dealing with her. For instance: she would purposely defy me, all the time, especially when I couldn’t get up to remove her. But I knew it was just an outlet for all the confusion with the new changes. Another example: she went through a streak of purposely hitting Timothy. Now she’s an angelic older sister, except when she’s tired- and then she’ll purposely try to hit him- but only if I’m in the room to see it. It’s a pretty good key she’s over tired, and it’s time for bed!
Seek to understand your toddler, and the potential changes they’re working through. Remember, they don’t have the social knowledge to know how to let out their feelings!
-Take care of yourself- especially remember to eat and drink enough! A friend of mine has mentioned before that sometimes when she feels exhausted, and consequently overwhelmed, spending a few minutes drinking a couple of huge glasses of water makes a big difference. Suddenly, she feels energized and ready to conquer again! I haven’t noticed it to such a drastic degree, but in smaller ones, yes. It’s important to take care of yourself, mama! I’m easily headache prone if I don’t drink enough…and not eating enough can fall into the same category. If you’re nursing- and especially if you’re tandem nursing- you have to eat. A lot. It takes a lot of food to keep everyone running.
Don’t be afraid to allow time for you, too. Sometimes a shower or something simple enables you to be a much more joyful mommy.
-Prepare your home and kitchen before #2 arrives! I blog about some of the ways I prepared here. Having a head start on your home- like meals in the freezer, deep cleaning done, and regular cleaning kept up on- will put you off to a great start!
-Stop….and drink it all in. Oh, drink, Mama. Because life is beautiful, and yet fleeting.
-Allow grace. Grace for you. For your husband. For your babies. For your home. Grace to cover not getting it all done, not being all, not holding it all together, loosing your cool. Grace to cover your toddler on his tantrum-laden day, your growth-spurting baby. Grace for your husband and the needs that seem so obvious to you, but which he simply doesn’t see. Grace for other moms who don’t quite have it all together either.
If only I was better at putting it into practice- all of it….life would be much more beautiful!
-It’s okay to use cheats. There were certain things I decided I would cheat on the first couple months to make life easier. One specific one that stands clear in my memory (because I agonized over it for days before deciding! :-)) is store bought dressing. I figured if I just bought dressing and didn’t have that one extra step, we’d be likely to keep eating salads. Somehow…it just feels like so much more to make dressing. So for two months, we ate store bought dressing. We made through, all alive and all in one piece (so far!)….and less stressed for it.
Depending on what your lifestyle is (how much you cook from scratch, etc.), figure out what you can compromise on for a while, and run with it. I have a hard time with this one….feeling like, if I know something’s not as good for us, why would I feed it to us? But I’m aware….that stress isn’t good for us either. If it’s choosing between store bought dressing and stress- I’m for the dressing all the way.
Well…that sums it up- for now! Long and rambly, like everything I write. ;-) Rock on, Mamas!