Surviving with a newborn and a toddler… one month on

I still can’t get my head around the fact that I’m a mum to two little humans, and I can’t believe we have survived a month already. Suprisingly I am coping pretty well with a 20 month old and a newborn and here is how…

  1. Going to bed early! As a first time mum everyone tells you to ‘sleep when your baby sleeps’ which is simply not possible when you have an active toddler who only naps for an hour a day! So the only way I’m coping with the 2-3 hourly night feeds is by going to bed super early. My toddler sleeps by 7/7.30pm, I then do a few chores and take my baby upstairs and we’re both asleep by 9pm! This helps with the 5/6am starts. Such a glamorous life I lead 😂
  2. A good routine. This goes with the above but basically having set nap times and a bedtime for my biggest monkey means I can semi plan the day and I know when to grab some lunch or start with dinner. I’m hoping to eventually have both boys in bed at the same time so I can get a couple of hours to myself. Maybe wishful thinking right now though.
  3. Doing grocery shopping online. I’m pre planning all my meals and ordering food online and getting it delivered as I just don’t have the time to go and do a food shop. I try and cook and prep dinner when my toddler is napping at lunch. I’m very fortunate to have my mum and sister nearby so one of them is usually here in the afternoon so as long as the baby is asleep they can entertain my toddler while I cook.
  4. Organising everything the night before. Once we come downstairs in the morning, it’s hard to just pop back upstairs to grab something as I don’t want to leave my monkey around the baby as anything could happen. Every evening I make sure we have enough nappy change essentials and spare clothes downstairs for the next day.
  5. Getting out of the house. This one is easier said than done. Firstly it’s winter so taking a newborn out requires more effort. And secondly getting out of the house with two takes longer than you would expect. But now we have all car seats and pushchairs set up, it should get easier. I’m finding it a lot easier to entertain my biggest boy out of the house, as he was getting very bored of being cooped up inside. And my littlest mainly sleeps while out and only feeds every 2-3 hours so this gives me time to focus on my oldest when out and about.. (Sami used to feed up to three times an hour which made going out when he was a newborn somewhat more challenging). Now the weather is nicer I plan to go out at least once a day, even if it’s just a walk around the block. We will also be taking advantage of our lovely garden.
  6. Strong support network. As I just mentioned my mum and sister live round the corner and help me daily. I am very lucky! As I’m breastfeeding there’s not much they can do to help with the baby but they help to entertain my toddler, by taking him out, feeding him, and helping with bath and bedtimes! I also have a very tight knit extended family who are nearby so have had lots of meals sent from aunties and cousins… I am very lucky I know and not everybody has their family nearby.
  7. Lowering my standards (and expectations). This one is an important one… I’m slowly accepting that my house will not be as immaculate as I would like. Things may be untidy and out of place, the laundry may pile up for a few days longer than I’d like, some days my toddler (and me) will stay in pjs all day and some days my toddler may watch nursery rhymes on TV for longer than he should. We may eat take out more then we should, some days my toddler will have weetabix for dinner… but it’s okay! Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves and there’s no need. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I get a chance I am doing housework, or cooking, or trying to do worthwhile activities with my toddler, but some days nothing gets done and the world is not going to end!

Advertisements

Our first outing with a newborn & toddler 

Having spent two weeks cooped up indoors since my little munchkin arrived, I’ve been feeling increasingly sorry for my biggest boy, who is getting more and more bored at home on the days he is not at nursery. Don’t get me wrong he still gets the majority of my attention, apart from when I’m feeding my newborn (which often takes over an hour). But the poor thing must be getting super bored and is fighting for mummy’s attention while he comes to terms with the fact the ‘baba’ is here to stay.

So yesterday I decided I would take him to a new stay and play group round the corner, and wrap the baby up warm so we could take him with us (I’m breastfeeding on demand so he goes where I go). It sounded simple in my head; get the boys dressed and ready for 10am, and off we go… it’s a five minute walk, how hard could it be…? I’m actually laughing at myself because of how wrong I was. This is how our morning turned out…

Both boys were up around 6.30am as usual. So I changed and dressed my biggest boy whilst my baby screamed in the background. Calmed the baby down while my biggest had breakfast and then spent the next couple of hours feeding and changing then feeding and changing my baby while my toddler occupied himself and battled for my attention!

I then made the mistake of putting my toddler’s shoes and coat on first. He was then determined to go outside and would not leave the front porch. Only I needed to get through the porch and to the car to get the base of the pushchair and set the bassinet up for the first time. So we had a little meltdown at the door for ten minutes or so, while the baby was screaming in the background! The people at Ocado decided this was the perfect time to deliver our online shopping, so I then had to bring all the shopping in and put it away without my toddler running off through the front door into the street..whilst the baby was still crying.

So once the shopping was dealt with, I finally set up the pushchair and got the baby’s coat on. He had, thankfully, now fallen asleep despite all the commotion. So we were ready to go, finally. Although, when my biggest boy saw the baby go into the pushchair and realised he wouldn’t be going in it he had another major meltdown! Luckily, the lovely people at Bugaboo had sent us a toddler board along with the Bee 5 we are road testing, so some quick thinking and five minutes later we had the toddler board all set up and we were actually finally ready to go! One whole hour later!

The bassinet was so lightweight and easy to push, and the toddler board was a hit although he did switch between sitting on it and walking which is still a new concept for him. My biggest boy loved the stay and play, I can’t believe we have never been before when it is literally on our doorstep! My littlest boy slept the entire time we were there, so the ordeal to get out was definitely worth it.

I’m sure as I get more used to having two boys we will find things like this get easier.  But having not slept more than a couple of hours the night before, the morning was just a disaster and the whole day then felt the same. Today is a new day. The toddler is off having fun at nursery, and my littlest boy has just fallen asleep… time to put the kettle on 😄.

Finally a lie in 

I don’t need an alarm clock anymore, and haven’t done for nearly nine months now. I’m woken up by my lovely little boy (screaming) who is most definitely an early bird. For the last couple of months he has woken up by 6am, and regularly wakes for the day between 4 and 5.30am. 

Every morning I pray for a miracle that he goes back to sleep, but sure enough, every morning this doesn’t happen and I give in and we start our day. So why am I sat here at 7.45am this morning, debating whether to go in and check on him (which will in turn wake him up), as he surely can’t still be sleeping?! Can he? 

This has made me chuckle to myself. I don’t want him to wake too early, but if he doesn’t wake up I get concerned! My poor baby can’t win! As parents we are never happy! So and so’s baby is always sleeping better or longer or happier or bigger or crawling or not crawling.. You get the jist. Anyway for now I’m just going to enjoy lying in bed doing absolutely NOTHING, as it’s been awhile.. 

   

Sleep when the baby sleeps.. 

‘Are you prepared for the lack of sleep’ they said. Yes, I thought I was. I could handle a few weeks of no sleep, maybe a month or two, surely after that things would settle down. I heard this a lot, but nobody told me the extent of the lack of sleep I was about to encounter, and how it lasts months and months. Why did nobody tell me this? 

‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ they said. But nobody told me that this would be impossible as my newborn baby would want to nap only on me. Putting my baby down so I could perhaps even rest risked going through the whole getting baby to sleep hour long procedure again. This was naptime for the first few months at least. 

As he got older and I could finally put him down for naps, nobody told me he would nap for exactly thirty minutes only, leaving me just enough time to do some laundry, tidy up a bit and make a cup of tea. Just as I sipped my first long awaited sip, he would wake up. I couldn’t even attempt to catch up on sleep and ‘sleep when my baby slept.’

‘He’s hungry’ they said. ‘Just wait until he’s on solids,’ they said. I had built false expectations of my baby sleeping through the night (or at least better), once I introduced solids. But nobody told me that food would cause my baby to actually wake up more from wind and a bad tummy. And why did nobody tell me just how hard weaning a fussy breastfed baby would be. 

Now they ask me what I do with all my free time as I am no longer working. ‘You must watch so much TV’ they ask. I wish! I wake up at 6am and don’t sit back down until 7pm once the babies asleep. When explaining this, I often get told to just sleep when the baby sleeps.. 

  

The B word.. 

The B word I am referring to here is not a nasty swear word that is too harsh to write out loud.. b is for breastfeeding. I feel that society has made me too ashamed to talk about it, or rather feel proud that I am still breastfeeding my 8 month old baby, having never chosen to give him even an ounce of formula. 

And by society I don’t necessarily mean random strangers, manufacturers or the media, I’m talking about friends, relatives and what the heck even the health visitor patronised me for still wanting to breastfeed! I don’t ram my opinions on breastfeeding versus formula on others, so why is it so normal for people to devalue breastfeeding and openly pass judgement on me! In my experience, the biggest culprits are those who have chosen not to breastfeed. 

I often hear others proudly boasting about how easy motherhood is for them, how easily their babies sleep at night, and how they’ve heard breastfeeding gives you saggy boobs (LOL). I usually sit there quietly and nod, but not anymore.. The next person to make a comment in front of me is going to get it.. 😂😂. In reality I wouldn’t say anything, because, well because that’s not me, and also what happened to women supporting each other. Now I understand the realities of motherhood I would never EVER question another mothers choice.

I know how easy my life would be if anyone could give my baby a bottle and I could just swan around like I did before, and I know I’d get more uninterrupted sleep if i gave my baby up formula.. But guess what, I chose to be a mum, so quite frankly I feel it would be selfish of me to deprive my baby of what is 100% natural. I think it’s high time us breastfeeding mums were no longer made to feel like we had to justify our choices. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know many mothers who would love to breastfeed but couldn’t, and I also get that some people’s personal situations may impact their decision to breastfeed. So I am in no way trying to offend anybody as I don’t think everybody who doesn’t breastfeed is evil or selfish, I’m just sticking up for me and my choice to give my baby what I feel is the best I can.

Another favourite is being questioned on how long I intend to breastfeed for, well the answer is none of your business! I don’t ask you how long you wish to feed your baby, or what brand of milk you have selected for your baby, so next time someone asks me this, then expect me to ask you an equally stupid question in return. 

And yes, I get that me breastfeeding can be an inconvience to people, if it means I can’t attend a certain event, have to leave something early, or provisions have to be made for me. Or if me breastfeeding means I can’t leave him alone with people and you know it’s an inconvience as you’d really like to do things with him too, but here’s another shocker.. I don’t care. I’m happy to miss out on these things, and my babies needs come first and if this means I’m anti social for a couple of years or you have to wait a little longer to get some quality time with my munchkin then so be it. 

And I also get how me breastfeeding him makes him more dependant on me. If I can cope with my baby only wanting me there when he sleeps, why can’t you? If another person asks me if they can attempt to put him to sleep/ back to sleep I might explode! He doesn’t want anyone else to do it except me, believe me we have tried! He may be dependant on me, but he is not clingy, he loves strangers and new people, and he is the most content baby I know, so we must be doing something right. 

So from now on I am going to be more openly proud of the amazing thing I am doing for my baby. I have fed him in the most natural way for 8 months so far, and it really is a pretty amazing thing.