Thursday, September 21, 2006

Caring for two young children without help

Handling a baby is hard work. Handling a toddler is hard work. What more when you have to handle both and without much help too. Its makes you wonder how on earth you are going to cope handling both a baby and a toddler at the same time.

I received the following email from a mother worried about handling two when the new baby comes along. My reply is in green. By posting it here, hopefully, we can get more input from other mothers and perhaps it could also help other mothers who are wondering the same thing.

Hi MG,

I read about how you handle 2 kids (baby & toddler) on your own without any help in your blog. However, I find it difficult for me to search all the links in your blog. Apart from that, I have a few questions to ask you. Since I'm going to take care of 2 kids on my own, I need your advice.

You can easily find my posts by clicking on the categories button at the top of this page.

1) Labour: Who is taking care of your kid when you are in the hospital for labour? There was no one to watch the older kid for us so we simply took her along with us. Fortunately the hospital allowed visitors to stay the night but unfortunately they ran out of double rooms so that they (my husband and daughter) would be more comfortable. We made do with a single room and requested for an extra mattress to be placed on the floor. My husband and daughter slept on the mattress to accompany me and the baby. By involving her like this, she accepted the new baby straight away so that was another problem solved for us. During the labour, when hubby was with me, my sisters helped to entertain her at the hospital cafeteria. I've written about this in more detail under the following link:

How to make sure your firstborn child accept the new baby

2) Confinement: Do you engage a confinement lady for the first month? No I did not engage a confinement lady. We did however cater confinement food. My husband was around to help me for the first two weeks. After that I managed somehow. I really don't remember how my days went then, it is a blur to me now, so it must not have been that hard. Lol!

If yes, do you have any recommendation for a good confinement lady? What about confinement food? You can find the link for the confinement services in my old post on Postnatal Care and Confinement Nannies.

If not, how do you cope with a toddler and a baby? You cut corners and do only whats important. Other things can wait. Here's how I cut corners:

Life with a newborn and toddler
First time parents coping with a newborn and toddler

How do you manage to eat when you have 2 kids to take care?
Haha. You just eat. Sometimes you get interrupted, that is all.

3) Food: How do you make/feed your toddler's food when you have to breastfeed your baby? Do you pump and store the bm for baby or direct breastfeed? I make my toddler's food (mostly porridge) overnight using the crockpot (so that it'll be ready in the morning). Or sometimes I make the porridge using a rice cooker first thing in the morning. (I never use the stove since that requires more work of having to watch it. With two little ones in the house its not save to forget about the fire on the stove!) I make a big pot then store them fresh in the refrigerator for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is fresh. I reheat the porridge for lunch and dinner. You can check out my porridge recipe here. As for the baby, I had a tough time breastfeeding so I did not use the bottle. I pumped and fed baby from a cup and tried direct breastfeeding at the same time. That was probably the toughest thing I had to do during the postnatal period.

4) Crying: How do you manage when 2 of them are crying at the same time? I cry along at the same time. Lol! Seriously, I felt like crying along with them. Even up till today, when one of them is crying, the other will cry too in sympathy (*rolls eyes*). Just don't let the crying get to you. If you think you need a break from it, after first checking to make sure they are okay, let them cry for a while. It won't hurt them. When you have regained your composure then pick them up and comfort them, sing to them, talk to them till they calm down, but first, calm yourself down.

5) Bath Time: How to take turns in bathing the toddler and baby? I find it much easier to bathe the toddler since she can stand on her own so I give her a shower instead of a bath. Its much easier and faster. I will place baby on a mat on the floor in front of the bathroom so I can keep an eye on him at the same time. As for the baby, I usually just give the baby daily sponge baths, that is topping and tailing using cotton balls and clean water in a container. I only give him a bath in a tub with hairwash etc once a week when hubby is around to help me with it. I'm hopeless in this area, so afraid to handle a wriggly, slippery baby so I preferred not to do it alone. Thats one of the areas I cut corners on. In fact, I bathed both my babies just once a week when they are newborns but don't worry, I always made sure they are clean especially their bottoms and they have never had any diaper rash before despite it. Breastfeeding helps.

6) Sleeping Routine: Does your baby sleep in the cot and toddler sleep on the bed at night? Yes, baby slept in the cot while toddler slept on the bed. If you're planning to do that, make sure you move your toddler to a bed now and not when baby arrives so that he won't feel that his cot has been taken over by the new baby. I gave them the same bedtime. It saved time for me. Usually I put baby in the cot after he has fallen asleep during his breastfeed. Some may tell you that its a bad idea to breastfeed baby to sleep but it worked fine for me. I try to put him in the cot only after he is in deep sleep, otherwise he will wake up and then I have to start all over again. Here's our sleep routine:

Bedtime routines when you have two kids

That's all for now. Will ask you more when something pops up my mind. Thanks in advance. Anytime. Hope that helps.

Hopefully some other mothers can join in to share their experiences too. That would be nice

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  1. You really did well!
    Can I add another point?
    1. bonding together, like nursing newborn and reading to toddler at the same time.
    2. bonding separately, like playing toys with toddler while newborn sleeps, and talking to newborn while toddler naps

    To me bonding together is important so toddler won't feel left out when baby comes along.

  2. pablopabla,
    Mummy needed lots of help from daddy! Hehe.

    You've got a really good point there! Thanks.

  3. Excellent advice MG. When I'm at my wits end, it helps when I come to your blog. You amaze me with how you cope. I guess one of the "secret" is not to expect a "perfect" home (lower one's expectation) and you'll feel less stressed.

  4. immomsdaughter,
    Yes, you'll have to close your eyes to the toilet that looks like a public toilet etc. :P

  5. Thanks a lot, MG. All the answers here will definitely help me to cope with my 2nd baby.


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