Looking after the baby on her own seems like a total breeze. I’m not sure
what all the fuss was about first time around.
Similarly, caring for our toddler on her own can be tricky – she has zero patience – but pretty straightforward if you stick to the routine and the basic rules of distraction and ‘out of site out of mind’.
The real fun starts when trying to care for them both at the same time. I’m only three weeks in but I’ve worked out a few things that make life easier and what doesn’t.
The main problem for me is an overly enthusiastic toddler who doesn’t realise her own strength and can’t be reasoned with. I’m sure that having two closer or further apart in age each come with their own unique challenges. This is what works for me so far……
1. Have a plan
This one may seem obvious but it really makes a difference. Having a clear plan for each day really helps to focus the toddler. You can talk to them about what the plan is for the day and ask them questions about it to keep them busy. It can also help keep you sane when the baby is crying for milk and the toddler is crying because, well just because.
Everything else hinges upon having a plan.
2. Organise it all the day before
I pack Sienna’s bag for her childminder, a bag for Scarlet and I all the night before. In case of emergency or impromptu outings I have Sienna’s little backpack reins with a nappy a drink and a snack ready to go in the car.
It doesn’t stop there. I also take out my clothes, right down to the underwear and lay them out ready for the next day and the same for Sienna.
Meals are also sorted the day before so that if we’re out in the morning I don’t have to work out what we’re eating when we get back and have two screaming hungry children on my case. I actually write a shopping list these days – with the help of husband and monkey number 1 of course – and do the shopping online or venture out to the supermarket on my own in peace in the evening.
3. Lower expectations
I’m hoping this is only a short term one. Mums put a lot of pressure on themselves to be perfect but I often find that they are each thinking that the other is doing an amazing job whilst beating themselves up for not having cooked a three course meal for dinner. Basically forget having a tidy house, at least until child number one is in bed.
The days of only ever leaving the house when you’re looking chic and polished are over. I congratulate myself on us all being clean, clothed and not covered in snot or vomit – at least none that I can see. Over my shoulder maybe?
Cooking/preparing two healthy nutritionally balanced meals each day is my goal but some days I’m just happy that we’ve all eaten something. I’m last in the pecking order so its no wonder I’ve lost a few pounds.
Sticking to my idealistic views of parenting often hits the rails now too. My no childrens TV during the day rule often goes out the window when I need to cook a meal or make a phonecall. A bit of TV and the odd biscuit never hurt me……
4 sleep whenever and however you can
The whole sleep when the baby sleeps thing is obviously impossible with a toddler to care for as well but thankfully Sienna will still nap in the day. She doesn’t really seem to need that nap any longer and would probably go to sleep rather than playing in her cot for ages if she didn’t have it but it works for me at the moment so I’m hanging on to it!
5 Relax – does it really matter?
It would be easy to find myself getting very very stressed out toting around two under two. An overly helpful toddler is not in fact really very helpful at all. The opposite more so. I find myself constantly saying ‘no’ ‘don’t do that’ or ‘leave that/her/it alone’ all day long. It bores me so it must just be like background noise to our inquisitive toddler now. It seems unfair to spend all day telling her off when actually she’s trying to be helpful so now unless it really matters I try not to. We have a chat about what she’s doing and what i’m doing and I try to find little jobs that she can do safely to help. She’s great at fetching things for me or putting things into the bin. She’s learned to be really gentle with her little sister so its okay for her to help out at bath time or with getting dressed.
Additionally I don’t fret or get upset about things going wrong or our bigger monster making a mistake. If she spills her cup of water so what? It was an accident. We talk about, she learns from it. No one was harmed and noone got shouted at. Yesterday whilst colouring in she was a little ‘energetic’ and her crayon was going off the page marking the table. It will come off and until it does we have a bespoke one off piece! If anything its my fault for not buying something to protect the table.
I think this last one has been the most important. It will all be ok. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I wonder if my thoughts on all this change in six months/ a year/ five years………