So many people scared us before having Sonny about how we would cope with two. “Say goodbye to *any* free time you have” was one particular phrase we heard a lot. Lines like that one, as well as the sleepless night, mess and bickering that having a new baby inevitably involves made us both begin to feel anxious in the weeks leading up to Sonny’s due date. Not ideal when you’re waddling around 40 weeks pregnant and running after a toddler…
The reality is, thankfully, hugely different and I can honestly say that never have I felt more content and calm – both on the inside and the outside. Busy and tiring yes, and you’ll probably still need that glass of wine at the end of the night, a good supply of frozen pizzas, and yes there’ll still be some fraught times, but I cannot stress how much more knowledgeable you are, how you and your partner are by now a real team when it comes to parenting (importantly, also I feel Sam and I are so much more ‘allowing’ eg. first time round: “you want to sleep in a separate room?” “That’s so selfish, I need you” VS. this time round “F*cking do it, we’ll all sleep better!”). But no, this is like nothing I have ever known before; our lives have become a beautiful chaos and it’s a huge and wonderful adrenaline rush 24/7. So to any parents to be out there considering a second, or already pregnant, much like all the negative birth stories, ignore the scaremongering and ‘noise’. You’re going to go on your own journey, it’ll be unique and it’ll be perfectly imperfect.
Everyone’s parenting style and journey will be so different, but based on how I’m currently experiencing it with some of help from the wise ‘Instamum’ community, I’ve put together a couple of tips on how I cope with certain issues.
HOW I COPE WITH….
Of course with a new baby, there will be a shift in the family dynamics – that is unavoidable. Remember, this is new to *everyone* – you’re learning to be a mum of two, number one is learning to be a big brother or sister and your newborn is learning how to live earthside. Before Sonny came along, we bought Jack a simple baby doll. Every evening we would give the baby a kiss goodnight and put it to sleep, and in the morning we would go and find it. I’d sit the baby with Jack at meal times, and talk a lot about the baby. Who knows if it really helped – but it certainly got him used to the look and feel of a baby. As much as possible, I always say YES to Jack when it is the three of us (and if I can’t do something with him, such as when I’m feeding Sonny, I explain that clearly to him). I’m not personally an advocate of spending time with one child alone without the other; I prefer us to be a unit.
GETTING OUT THE HOUSE:
My main advice here is do what is easiest and what causes the least chaos possible! If that means sticking the toddler in front of the TV, do it. If it means, timing it with naps so you know one will sleep in the buggy, do it. And finally, if it means not really leaving the house at all, friggin’ do it. All I will say is, allow a lot of extra time. Oh, and seek caffeine out ASAP once you do leave the house! A short word on double buggies: I’m still not a fan. Most of the time I take out a single buggy and use a sling and alternate the kids between the buggy. I just find the double buggy so cumbersome. You can find a separate post about getting out the house with two kiddos here.
GETTING THEM TO NAP:
I’m a bit of a weirdo (and I dislike routine) so we have never really had much routine for Jack. This means that he has no set nap time or bed time. So when one does need a sleep, I might switch the TV on briefly for Jack so I can settle Sonny, or often I will place Sonny in the sling (which sort of hides him) to take Jack to his cot for a sleep. In the evenings, I’ll bath the two together which I love. Sonny, once bathed, is always very calm and happy to lie outside Jack’s bedroom whilst I give Jack his milk and put him to sleep. We also play lullabies for Jack in his room which Sonny can hear and which help entertain him. We’re fortunate in that Jack doesn’t need a bedtime stories (we’ll do 1 on a good day 🙂 and he’ll go to sleep pretty calmly and easily.
A lot of the times, Sonny needs feeding and Jack needs attention at the same time and this has now turned into one of my favourite times to read with Jack; I will ask him to bring over some books and we’ll sit, the three of us; eating, reading, and listening. I’m sure Sonny enjoys the stories too! When Jack needs his food, Sonny will go in the bouncer or in the sling. I’ve also started putting Sonny in the bouncer next to Jack whilst Jack eats – firstly, it entertains Sonny but also I think it’s nice for them to start to ‘eat’ together. Ditto potty training which has become a joint exercise.
KEEPING BOTH HAPPY:
I’d actually say here a lot of your work is done for you with number two! Sonny is definitely happier when Jack is around – Jack is great entertainment for Sonny. In fact, I enjoy days when I have them both around far more than just me and Sonny, which I actually find harder work. I love having Jack around also as company (is that sad?) to ‘talk to’ and make me laugh with his silly words or light up my world when he tells me he loves me. Jack is also very content playing alone which gives me pockets of time to focus on Sonny. Also I find interestingly, they sort of take it in turns to ‘play up’; when one is tricky, the other will be good as gold.
GETTING ME TIME:
I am passionate about getting me time but I’ve learnt now, two kids in, that you really have to plan and carve it out. Sam and I go to yoga together once a week – just an hours class – but it is amazing to be out the house, just the two of us, and get on the mat. Then I’ll also get some time in one morning on the weekend which I usually spend working on my blog in a local cafe.
I can honestly say that the transition from one to two is WONDERFUL; I found the jump from 0-1 kids FAR more of a change (sorry if there are any new mums to be reading this…). Are you a mum of two? Do you have any tips for when number 2 arrives?