I’m participating in a virtual baby shower, featured on a new read for me, Better than a Playdate. Several bloggers are making the move from one kid to two, and participants are meant to provide advice/assvice on this transition.
As I’m still figuring this one out, with a 2.5 year old and an almost 6 month old, I look forward to reading the other entries. But I’ll provide my own coping tactics:
- I’m lucky enough to be able to afford (barely) to keep my toddler in daycare 3 days a week. It’s the best use of my small fixed income while on maternity leave – I get some quality time with the baby while on leave, like I did with my first child, and I am able to get things done around the house, and even have a shower and get dressed. And blog!
- On the two days I have the toddler and baby at home by myself, we go to a playgroup in the morning. He gets to run around and play, and I don’t have to worry about entertaining him quite so much as I do at home. Generally the baby is okay with this as he’s already eaten and is either having awake/alert time or naps in his carseat. I guess playgroup is also normally used to socialize with other parents, but I haven’t really found it that effective in that respect yet!
- On weekends and during the evening, my husband is pretty much in charge of the toddler – he does most diaper changes, he takes him out to the park, he lets him help him with laundry/vacuuming/ whatever. This was particularly important during those hazy beginning days, immediately after the baby’s birth. Use your partner or another family member, if you have access.
- If you believe in television, like my lazy ass does, I keep the toddler’s favourite shows on the digital recorder (PVR for Canadians, Tivo for Americans) and use them particularly when I need to pay some attention to the baby. Or when the toddler just demands them outright and I need to stop his whining. Plus television isn’t that bad – we do actually talk about what’s happening on the screen, and my son never sits still, really, so it’s not like it’s turning him into a couch potato like his mother.
- I keep a box of colouring supplies and play-doh in the kitchen – out of toddler’s reach but ready to be pulled out when he needs an activity. I also try to rotate some toys.
- We have LOTS of baby gates. LOTS. Containment is key for dealing with my rambunctious toddler.
- I thought we didn’t need it, but we ended up buying a double stroller. It’s ugly (we couldn’t really afford a posh one) but functional. Going for a walk, now the weather’s better, is an easy thing to do and is good for everyone. Also, you need it for going mall shopping.
- Grocery shopping is a great thing to do with a toddler and a baby if you have a store with those giant two-tiered shopping carts. It’s fairly easy for me to take them food shopping, or to go to evil Walmart, or even Ikea (although ours doesn’t have giant carts, but their regular carts are big enough for both of them to get into, and I’m not really filling it with stuff like when I food shop). I would love to shop local and support smaller stores and whatever, but I really just can’t right now. I gotta do what I gotta do to survive.
- Overall, the key to this for us is wrangling the toddler first. The baby is easy. The baby is lovely. The toddler can be a complete nightmare or a joy. We try to make him happy first, and then the rest of it seems to follow.
Many of these things were suggested to me by my friends and readers when I pleaded for help when I first went from one to two children, and so I thank them, and pass this assvice on to you.
I have found this a difficult transition, personally, but obviously other people are naturals at it, or everyone would be only children. As everyone else loves to tell me, it’s going to get better! Good luck.