How am I going to cope with a toddler and a baby? A question I often asked myself when I was pregnant with Flixster. With the boy still in nappies and not quite in a toddler bed yet I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope. I would reason with myself that many millions of people had survived before me so surely I could…maybe….right? Flixster is now almost 8 months old and so far I’ve survived, ok it’s on very little sleep but I’m here, I’m still standing (sort of!) So without further ado I’ll let you know my top tips for surviving!
1) Alcohol – start drinking, anytime, anywhere!
2) Lower your standards – your appearance, your expectations of food, your hopes for a tidy home etc
Now of course I’m joking about the above, although there have been times I’ve looked longingly at my open bottle of red on the top of the fridge, wondering if a small glass at 2pm would see me through until Daddy gets home! In reality though I only have the odd glass once the babies are in bed on a Saturday night.
What follows below is my serious list of hints and tips!
Organisation – now you’re probably thinking that of course I’m talking about being generally organised and although many of us would love to be organised in all aspects of life it’s just never going to happen! I’m talking specifically about getting yourself organised each night just for the next day.
1) So first and foremost if you’re going to be leaving the house the next day get your bag and the car packed. If you’re going to need the pushchair or pram then put it in the boot ready. Don’t think that it doesn’t matter and you can do it in the morning, good luck with that! Trying to juggle a baby and wrangle a toddler whilst folding a pushchair and ensuring no one accidentally ends up in the road is nearly impossible, you only have two hands – take it from me!
2) Make sure your changing bag is packed, be sure to remember everything you might need, drinks for toddler, nappies, wipes etc. In the early days of having two I used to really enjoy watching “What’s in my diaper bag” videos on YouTube. They would give me an idea of what I would need to pack and how to organise the bag. If you’re going to be staying at home, then make sure you have everything you need downstairs so that you’re not running up and down,holding a baby, or having to leave the two alone. The first time I did this for 20 seconds I came back to the boy trying to share his banana with Flixster who was only a week old!
3) Sling – This should probably be top tip number 1, it wasn’t until I had two children that I realised how valuable having a sling/baby carrier would be. You can get far more done with the toddler if the baby is in a carrier close to mummy. Be sure to buy a good one though and I highly recommend hiring one from a local sling library (if your lucky enough to live near one) before you invest your hard-earned money. There is a sling/carrier out there to suit everyone but not all types will suit you. Finding the one that suits you and your lifestyle well will bring you the joy of being hands free to deal with a toddler. I started out with a stretchy wrap for Flixster and now I have a material wrap alongside a ring sling for quick up and downs and a mei-tai style one for daddy to use. They get used multiple times a day and I’m not sure how I would have survived without them. There are lots of cheaper baby carriers out there on the market but most are not recommended as the baby hips aren’t kept in the correct ‘M’ position. A good place to check if the carrier is suitable is to have a look at the TICKS baby carrier list which you can view here.
4) Toilet – No nobody likes toilet talk but it is a part of everyone’s life. What if you need to go when you have sole charge of two small people? If you have a downstairs toilet then you’re probably ok, but what if you don’t? I take both children with me, place Flixster on the floor and get a book for the boy to look at. I have stair gates so I know if he leaves the bathroom he’ll be ok. What if you’re out in public? Try and find a disabled toilet so that you can all fit in together. If you have a double pushchair then strap the little ones in so that the toddler doesn’t go around touching everything while you have a wee! Yuck!
5) Feeding – Being a breastfeeder it’s a little harder to control a toddler while I’m feeding Flixster as I need both my hands for feeding. So if you can find a corner of a coffee shop and block the toddler in while you feed then great but what if you can’t? Do you have a pushchair where you could strap the toddler in safely while you feed? Perhaps the toddler could look at a toy, phone or book for distraction? Is there a feeding room where you are that you could go to in order to keep the toddler contained? Many large shopping centres have them now so just ask to see if the one you are in has one.
Believe me it’s not easy looking after a baby and toddler at the same time, there have been times in the early days where all three of us have been crying at the same time, but you live and learn and hopefully my tips will help. Good luck mummies and daddies, if there are any tips I’ve missed please feel free to let me know and I can add them on!