Let’s face it, life with a newborn is tough. You have changed more diapers than you can count and the baby is only three days old. You probably have crusted breast milk or formula all over that lovely over-sized t-shirt that you have worn for three straight days and you really cannot remember that last time you put on deodorant. So, what happens when you already have a toddler at home and you add a newborn to the mix? Here are 15 simple and realistic ways to make life with a newborn and toddler a little bit easier.
15 Activities That Do Not Require Your Constant Attention
With a newborn, there is no way that you can keep your undivided attention on your other children ALL the time--and the good news is, it’s pretty unlikely that your toddler will develop some sort of mental disorder because you didn’t pay attention to their every move. He or she will be just fine! When you need a few minutes to feed the baby or change a diaper, it will help to have pre-made activities for your other children to complete. For example, grab some Play-Doh at the store or make your own. Play-Doh is very safe. Next, find a few plastic spoons, a couple small bowls, and some plastic cookie cutters. This will buy you at least forty-five minutes in order to do what you need to with the newborn and your toddler will have a blast!
14 Technology Can Be Your Best Friend
Do not feel ashamed if you let your older children watch videos or play games on the iPad or tablet. Life is going to be super hectic in those first few weeks with the new baby, and you will need all the uninterrupted time you can get. If it makes you feel better, limit their screen time and make sure they are watching something educational, but DO NOT let others make you feel guilty about it! You are going to be criticized no matter how you decide to raise your children, so do what works best for your family. If it makes you feel more at ease for allowing your child to use technology, read him or her a book or paint a picture together if you have some spare time.
13 Limit Potential Hazardous Situations
When your lady bits are still sore, you feel like a milking cow and your house is a wreck, it’s going to be mentally taxing on you to be on your a-game at all times. In order to avoid any dangerous situations for your toddler due to your cloudy mom-brain, try to make your house as safe as possible before the baby comes. Put up baby gates in all the areas you do not want your older children to go. Remove choking hazards and toys that could somehow magically make their way into your toddler’s mouth. If your little angel is a climber, you will want to think about all the areas in your house that your toddler could try to climb and potentially fall off. Teach them that the kitchen is off limits after you have cooked (hot stove). Bolt down your t.v. in order to avoid it falling off and onto your little one. It may seem a bit anal to check your house for such dangers, but it will be well worth it when your toddler is running circles around you and you just cannot keep up. You will be able to rest easy and know that, for the most part, their environment is safe.
12 Involve The Older Kids
You would be surprised how much older children enjoy being involved in the care of a newborn sibling. You can have them toss dirty diapers in the trash, stand on a chair and help you wash bottles (Make sure you stay with them.), or you can have them “babysit” while you sit and rest on the couch. Just lay the baby down in her swing or bouncy chair and ask her sibling to hold a rattle or other toy in front of the baby to keep her entertained. Just make sure you are supervising.
11 Create a Busy Box
All you need is a container filled with simple goodies. For example, fill it with things like crayons, markers, coloring sheets, puzzles, dry erase boards and markers, or any other gadget or crafting item your child is interested in. (Just make sure you don’t include items that would require your assistance or constant attention.) Encourage your child to check out the items in his or her busy box and be sure to change the items every now and then so that your child won't lose interest.
10 Set Up Diaper Changing Stations
Place a basket filled with diapers, wipes, and rash cream in your main living space or wherever you spend the most time with the baby. The assumption is that you will not spend the majority of your time confined to the baby’s room, so it will be helpful to place diaper accessories in the area you spend the most time. The less you have to move around searching for items you need, the easier things will be!
9 Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
Even though it is against every natural urge and tendency in a woman to NOT multi-task, try your best not to. As soon as you think you can start supper, throw in a load of laundry, and let your toddler start a craft —all hell will break loose and you will wish you had completed one task before starting another!
8 Take Advantage of the Baby’s Nap Times
First, try to get your toddler on a consistent napping schedule, and some days, if the stars align just right, your newborn and toddler may nap at the same times. If you are exhausted, take a nap with them. Even if the laundry is starting to smell and the dishes have been in the sink for a week, your sanity and rest are more important than chores, and you will be more motivated to complete those tasks when you are rested. If you feel up to the task, use this time to prepare everything you will need for when the kids wake up. You will be ahead of the game and less overwhelmed once everyone wakes up and goes back into full speed.
7 Accept Help
Your pride is probably going to tell you no. You think because you made the decision to have children that it is not someone else’s responsibility to help you make it through life and help you with your kids. It is all on you, right? Wrong. Do not let your pride get in the way of some much-needed help. If someone offers to bring you food or watch the baby while you sleep, let him or her. You are not less of a mother for accepting help.
6 Prepare Snacks for the Toddler the Night Before
Your day is going to be super busy and exhausting with a toddler and a newborn. One way to make things a bit easier is to have snacks already prepared so that he or she can just grab a snack and go without requiring your assistance. Just make sure the snacks are not super messy or do not present an obvious choking concern.
5 Invest in a Crockpot
This really does not need explaining! Making supper may be the last thing you want to do when you have been taking care of multiple young children all day and crockpots are great for saving time when preparing supper. Plus, there are tons of recipes for your slow cooker that are available on the internet.
4 Minimize The Time You Spend Cleaning
If you want, you can purchase some pretty baskets or simple use laundry baskets to place in the different areas where you and your children spend the most time. Anytime your little one leaves toss lying around, just have her toss them into the designated baskets. It helps to have these "catch-all-stations" around the house so that you can quickly pick up random items that find their way onto you floor throughout the day. Another great tip is to try to keep your clean dishes unloaded from the dishwasher so that is can be ready for loading throughout the day!
3 Prepare Bottles At Night/Breastfeeding Station
Preparation is key when maintaining your sanity with two little ones. If you are formula feeding, make sure the bottles are clean the night before. You can even go a step further and fill them with the correct amount of water that corresponds with the amount of formula you will be using. This will cut down on your bottle preparation the next day when the baby is screaming his head off! If you are breastfeeding, set up a breastfeeding station in order to make those frequent feedings a bit more bearable. Find a comfortable rocker and keep your nursing pillow, lanolin, burp cloths, or any other helpful item nearby. Keep all those go-to things in one spot so that you are not running around in a frenzy trying to find everything you need!
2 Prepare The Younger Sibling For The New Baby
Some older brothers and sisters are instantly fond and understanding of the newborn in their life, but others may need a little guidance. If your toddler is a bit rough or too young to understand how to treat a young baby, you will need to teach them! Have them practice "gentle" touches with a teddy bear or doll. Show your toddler how a baby's head needs supports; you could even teach him or her how to change diapers. If you take the time to convey the importance of treating the new baby with care, your toddler will be more understanding when he or she arrives. This will also save from unnecessary frustration in the future.
1 Remember That Times Will Not Always Be Like This
When you're at the end of your rope and you feel like everything is falling apart, just remember that you won’t always be stressed to the max. You will not always have a newborn and toddler driving you insane! Try your best to live in the moment and focus on the good times. Before you know it, your babies will be grown!