The early days and weeks with a newborn are as special as they are intense. Experiencing it for the second (or more) time can feel easier in some ways - there is the gift of perspective and knowing that when it is hard ‘this too shall pass’ but it has its own challenges, not least in juggling the very different needs of a toddler and a newborn baby!
New mums for the 2nd or 5th time this one is for you
Quality time with your toddler. When catering to the needs of a newborn, it can feel like there is very little time for your first born in between the round the clock feeds and nappy changing...Know that this is temporary and it won't be long until you have your quality time together again. In the meantime, see if your partner can take the baby for 15-30 mins every day so you can give your toddler your undivided attention and do something like a game together, an arts and crafts activity or snuggling up with a book.
Lowering your standards and being kind to yourself. Some days might feel like complete chaos and all you will manage is to survive and that’s OK. The washing-up, laundry and cooking can wait - your baby won't mind if the ironing isn't done!
Put together a box of activities that your toddler can do on their own next to you, for when you are feeding your baby or wanting to rest. Things like: Play Doh, colouring pads and pencils, sticker books, legos, puzzles and simple arts and crafts activities.
Read books and talk with your toddler while you’re feeding. If you don’t have a free hand, get your toddler to hold a book and turn the pages while you read, or play a simple game like I Spy.
Tell stories. When your arms are full with a newborn, it might not always be realistic to read, so tell your toddler stories instead - about when they were a little baby or make up a tale about whatever s/he is into at the moment.
TV helpers. Peppa Pig and other cartoon characters can be very helpful babysitters when you are feeling too exhausted to do anything else. Embrace this time of snuggling on the sofa all together. If not keen on screens, know that this is temporary and your child won’t become reliant on TV as a result.
Nap when the babies nap. In the early days it will feel like a miracle when both your newborn and toddler(s) sleep at the same time but rest assured that it won’t be long until you get at least some time for yourself consistently most days. So on these days, REST or do something just for YOU! No excuses. Cleaning and tidying up can wait.
Divide and conquer bath time. Bathtime can be complete chaos with a newborn and a toddler. Whenever possible get your partner to help p.s. your newborn won't mind not getting a bath every night either! When on your own: Take everything in the bathroom with you e.g. nappies, PJs, towels, milk, bouncer etc. Someone will probably cry at some point - you are doing your best with what you have: only two hands. See if a mobile/lightshow help to distract your newborn whilst you put your toddler to bed, or you could all snuggle up in your toddler’s bed and read books whilst you feed. It's a bit of a trial and error but you soon will have it NAILED I promise
Get outside for some fresh air. Until the local library and playgroups open for rhyme times and other fun and games, have a park date or energising walk with a friend. Sharing worries, tears and small wins too (and cake!) can make such a difference to your mood. The Peanut app is great for meeting local mums with babies the same age.
Make your toddler your little helper and involve them with tasks like changing nappies or choosing the baby's clothes. Your toddler might also like to pretend-feed/change/burp a doll or soft toy while you are doing the same with the baby.
What about YOU?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Looking after yourself is a necessity not a luxury. In the early postnatal period, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to even meet our most basic needs like going to the loo or eating lunch, let alone doing something for ourselves once we have looked after everyone else! BUT thinking about what YOU need and factoring in small pockets of time for you here and there is really important to recharge your personal battery. Try making a list of 5 things that you enjoy doing which you can do in 5-10 mins e.g. a hot cup of tea, reading a few pages of a magazine or lying outside in the sunshine with your eyes closed and no babies attached to you! When you get an unexpected chunk of time just pick one from the list. Make it a priority with your partner to give each other at least a few minutes to yourselves every day if you can.⠀
Remember that your love does not divide, it multiplies. With another baby comes double the laundry and often more than double the guilt and feelings of not being enough and not giving each child equal amounts of time and attention. On some days it might feel like your 2nd isn’t getting ANY attention or yet another feed means your toddler is watching Peppa Pig again. Or questioning how you can possibly love this baby as much as your first child. Know that Yes there is less time but not less love. The attention given to each child will balance out in time and your relationship with each one will probably be different and that's ok.
Asking for help if you need it, whether it’s help with house chores, nursery/school drop offs or grandparents looking after your toddler for 1-2 hours (e.g an explore in the woods or picnic) so you can get some rest, and bonding time with your newborn.
The postnatal wellbeing sessions are a bit like an emotional MOT: Processing your birth, and checking in with your postpartum experience - focusing on the topics that are most relevant to you, such as Emotional Recovery & Wellbeing or Mindful Feeding & Resting. Lots of simple techniques and practical tips for tougher days too.
Private and Group sessions available. To book a free chat, click here.