Juggling a baby and a toddler is a challenging yet rewarding part of parenthood. Here are a few tips that have helped my family adjust to life with a newborn, baby, and toddler phase all under the same roof!
Ok. I realize I probably should’ve written this post almost two years ago when Anthony was born and Joey was just reaching toddler-hood. The reality is Anthony was not the easiest baby, and I’m fairly certain I blacked out during what Ted and I refer to as, “the dark winter.” Looking back to that time and now being in the thick of baby and toddler life with Lily and her brothers, I’ve found a few things helpful when it comes to juggling a newborn and a toddler. Or in our family, two toddlers.
Disclaimer: I believe there’s NOT a one-size-fits-all when it comes to being a Mom. I don’t have it all figured out. And most days my engine is running on coffee or adrenaline. I’m either yelling at Anthony to use his, “happy voice,” or yelling at Joey to stop asking for another TV show. So please, PLEASE do NOT think it’s all puppies and cupcakes over here. And despite what my recipe index might show you, I’m only cooking EASY and somewhat healthy meals- forget gourmet, Pinterest-worthy ones. And when that fails because I didn’t have time to go grocery shopping we are eating Dominos pizza and cheesy bread. Truth.
So here’s what’s worked for me when it comes to being #1 for all of the Serbinski kiddos…
Don’t expect to get much sleep. Well I’m just being honest with this one. Whomever came up with the saying, “sleeps like a baby,” clearly never had a baby. It’s going to be a tough the first year. Yep. A year. Or least it has been for me and my babies until they hit the one year mark. There’s so much growth and development that happens the first year that I never know if my baby is getting a tooth, an ear infection, or is about to roll over. Needless to say we have good weeks and off weeks when it comes to baby sleep [tell me I’m not alone in this one?!]. Muphy’s Law of Motherhood: Just when you get the baby down to sleep your toddler will magically decide to skip their nap. Oh and want to know what happens when they both magically fall asleep at the same time? You decide: will you take a shower or a nap?!
Keep a list of easy meals on hand. Like my list of 50 easy, no-recipe needed meal ideas. Truth be told the first 5 weeks of Lily’s life the boys enjoyed their fair share of grilled cheese and chicken nuggets. Now that I’m in a groove and can get at least a few hours on the weekend for some food prep, I make sure I’m prepping easy snacks [think fresh produce, portioning out homemade trail mix, washing fruit] and a few meal components that can easily be thrown together midweek for a meal. If your new to Mom to Mom Nutrition, I’d encourage you to sign up for my newsletter! I’ve starting adding weekly meal plans linked with easy meals and dinner ideas that are somewhat toddler approved.
Involve your kids in each other’s activities. So I’ve read when you have a newborn baby that you should have your toddler help give the baby a bath, bottle, change, etc to make them feel included. I’ve implemented this too with the baby doing the same with the toddlers- i.e. watching the boys color, play with trains, jump in the ball pit, etc. Even though Lily looks at me like I’m crazy as she’s laying on the floor doing tummy time, it helps the boys feel like she’s somewhat interested in their life too. Or so that’s what I’m telling myself!
Rely a LOT more on your partner. If you can. I know we all have different situations at home- some spouses travel a lot for work, some are in the military and deployed, others work crazy long hours. I don’t know what I’d do without Ted and his availability to pitch in when I need him most— aka when I’m about to lose my marbles 2-3x a week. Or his ability to do some of the things I did before kids— like grocery shop [with a detailed list], make returns at Target, or most recently, give all 3 kids a bath. I do still take the kids to the grocery store if we run out of milk or if I need a quick card for a birthday party. But after that adventure I’m quickly reminded how nice it is to be able to delegate! For those of you who do all of those tasks solo, tell me how YOU do IT!?!
Sometimes the baby can wait. Yep, it’s true, the baby will always want something when your toddler does. So, when I know Lily is fed, changed, and well-rested, and she just so happens to starts in on a little fussy period while one of the boys need me, well, sometimes Lily can wait. No, I don’t let her scream and carry on for hours, but a minute or two is OK. I was reminded of this when my pediatrician told me a baby’s job is to cry. That’s how they communicate. What else do we expect them to do?! Oh besides snuggle and smile and coo!
Ok. So this was somewhat of a word vomit type of post. But this is what life has been like juggling a baby and a toddler. Something happens when you have a child. And another. And another. Your love for your children both young and old grows, and everyone STILL manages to find a place in Momma’s lap to be the baby. Although this lap is getting a little full…
Tell me: If you are in the baby/toddler phase, what has helped you cope with the demands of each child?!