Welcoming a new addition to the family is a highly anticipated time. With a newborn come new hopes and dreams, as well as new beautiful memories to be made.
However, caring for an infant is a 24/7 job. This is why new parents are usually among the most sleep-deprived lot. Baby comes first, and Baby may sleep as much as he or she wants. But you, the parent, not so much.
Your baby needs to be fed, bathed, have his nappie changed, rocked to sleep, and cared for with extra TLC. With your preoccupation with your new baby, you might also find yourself ignoring your need to sleep, bathe, and clean the house.
So if you add a toddler into the picture, the pressure of parenting is somehow doubled. After all, toddlers can be impatient, demanding, aggressive, and sensitive at the same time. They are entering a stage of greater independence while also still seeking solace and safety in their mum and dad’s arms.
With a baby and toddler in tow, how then will you manage your household and stay sane?
Here are six tips we recommend to help you successfully juggle life with your toddler and newborn:
1. Familiarise your toddler with your newborn
Now, this is something you could have done early on as your toddler began to show interest in your growing belly. But whether or not you’ve discussed welcoming a new baby into the family with your toddler before giving birth, you will need to ‘introduce’ your toddler and baby to each other.
Once the baby is out, you can try a couple of things to establish the bond between siblings, especially for the benefit of your toddler.
Sibling gift exchange
Ask your toddler to pick out a gift for his or her newborn sibling, and have him or her give it to the baby the moment they meet. Be sure to have something for your toddler, too, presumably from his or her newborn brother or sister.
Toddler baby care
While you shouldn’t expect your toddler to make significant contributions to the task of baby care, you can let him or help with smaller chores. Have your toddler get the nappies for your baby, or allow him or her to hold the baby (with your help) once in a while. Doing this will instil a sense of responsibility and protectiveness in your toddler toward your newborn.
2. Get help when you can
As the adage says: “It takes a village to raise a child.”
You may not have the traditional village or extended family network to support you, but try to get help whenever you can.
Take advantage of the time when your husband is around to help out with infant care, household chores, and in entertaining your toddler. Talk about taking turns looking after the baby so that you have time for a bit of self-care. Establish a routine for when one of you goes back to work so that things continue to work as smoothly as possible.
Since going to the supermarket will be a complicated exercise with a newborn and toddler, why not do your shopping from the comfort of home? This way, you get to avoid both pre- and post-shopping to-dos, traffic, and possible safety issues.
If your mum, mum-in-law, friends or other relatives volunteer to help out, even just on weekends, graciously accept their offers. Make use of a bit of free time to bond with your toddler or spend quality time with your partner--and yourself.
3. Keep your toddler busy
You can keep your toddler preoccupied by providing him or her a designated space for engaging activities by making use of ‘busy bags,’ colouring books, age-appropriate Legos, and other interesting materials.
You may also consider enrolling your child in a day-care facility so that he or she learns while also providing you some time for yourself.
4. Establish a routine
One of the most important things you can do in establishing a routine is coordinating the sleep times of your baby and toddler. This way, you can take a nap (or do what you want) as they nap and get some much-needed rest even for just an hour or so.
Scheduling tasks will also help your toddler anticipate household activities so he or she is less likely to make a fuss.
5. Make time for your toddler
One of the reasons why toddlers become overly fussy with a baby around is the feeling of being ignored. He or she knows that your world no longer exclusively revolves around him or her, and this can develop a sense of insecurity in your child.
Reassure your toddler that nothing has changed, and show your love and care by making time for him or her. No matter how difficult, you or your spouse should maintain storytime as well as other sleeping rituals your toddler has gotten accustomed to.
6. Practise baby-wearing
The practise of keeping a baby close while performing certain tasks is as old as child-rearing itself. You can practise baby-wearing by ensuring you are using the proper sling or wrap to keep your baby well-supported, safe, and secure. This way, you can perform most household tasks hands-free.
Parenting is challenging enough. It's much more so if you have both a toddler and an infant to care for at the same time? Or, what if one of them gets sick? Know that you will need all the help you can get. And hopefully, with the tips above, you’ll find managing life at home with your kids a bit easier.