Sleep when your baby sleeps. Well, google search results, that is a swell idea. Except I would wake up to a child service officer escorting my older child back in the house after he opened the front door and escaped with a bag full of animal crackers in his hand. So, google search – can you provide me some tips for surviving a nonsleeping infant with a toddler in tow. And not ones that require me magically getting both kids to nap at the same time. That just never happens around here, either. As soon as one kid falls asleep, the other hears the footsteps and smells mom’s impending freedom and pops up yelling “SNNNNAAACKKKS!” (or in nola’s case BOOOBS). So yeah – nap at same time happens rarely. And when it does I am too shocked to do anything. I tend to just sit and wait for the screaming baby. Knowing it will happen at any moment.
So since my friend Google and my good frenemy Dr. Sears got nothing for me, I have decided I would compile my own list of advice for surviving with a newborn when you got a toddler floating around.
Advice #1: Cherish the Moment. No, I don’t mean sit there at 3 AM and think to yourself how beautiful your new baby is. That’s great – I am sure you could cherish the kid at noon and be just fine. I mean cherish that this is the one time in your life it is fully acceptable to watch an entire season of Felicity in 48 hours. When the baby wakes up at 3AM – get excited. You can see what boy Felicity is dating this episode. Ben or Jake from Scandal.
Advice #2: Befriend the dollar store. And Target Dollar bins. Sure you have tons Thomas Trains that used to entertain your kid for hours on end. He also used to love to stick pipe cleaners through a spaghetti strainer too. Enter new baby and new baby’s need to feed. Said toddler just won’t love dropping pom poms through the toilet paper roll day in and day out. Don’t get me wrong those activities do buy you some time, but you need more. You need “new”. Enter dollar store crap. Stash a bag of random dollar store toys and games and pull them out whenever your toddler is clingy and you are trying to feed. No, Flynn, you cannot begin to breastfeed again, but you can play with this plastic, BPA-filled, dinosaur from Dollar Tree while I nurse your sister.
Advice #3: Invest in Baskets. You thought you couldn’t keep up with the housework when you had one kiddo. Or maybe you thought you had it down to a pinterest science. It doesn’t matter. Your house is going to look like a bomb went off no matter how many lists you make or pinterest articles you read. If mess bothers you – and messes up the million of pictures you are trying to instagram – get some baskets. Cute ones that make you happy. Put them in every room or area of the house. Then just throw the Mater trucks, pacis, dirty clothes, BPA-filled dinosaur dollar store finds in the basket. Later that
day week month you can sort it out. If you haven’t sorted it out after a month, I would recommend throwing it out. You didn’t need it in a month – so why bother.
Advice #4: Invest in carrier or two. If you want to get anything done that requires the use of both hands – a carrier is a lifesaver. Strap the baby in and you can maybe, just maybe tackle one of those baskets. At the very least, you can sit and play Thomas Trains with both hands, which is really needed if you want to be Percy and Thomas at the same time. In the beginning, I rarely turned to this and I am not sure why. Now it happens all day everyday. And not just with the baby.
My two favorites are sollybaby wrap and the Ergo carrier. If you want reviews on either I would be happy to share!
Advice #5: Drive. Anywhere. Nowhere. Just drive. Sometimes being in the house is maddening. You are holding a baby while pretending to be Sally from the Super Spies book while doing laundry and looking at baskets of mess you need to empty because some lady said that was a good idea. Sometimes you don’t want to hear Cup of Milk or are tired of wearing the baby in a damn carrier all afternoon while reading Llama Llama 15x. Strap the kids in the car and drive. A bonus if you get out of the car, but a drive thru for a midday drink also serves as an “outing”. It also provides you a few minutes to just drive and hey maybe both kids will fall asleep leaving you with pure peace and joy as you drink your starbucks while listening to the Frozen soundtrack long after the kids are asleep. Don’t worry about the lack of makeup, the fact that your stretchy black leggings have not been washed in days or that your mom bun is starting to look more like a rats nest. Just get in the car and GOOOO.
Advice #6: Go to bed once the second child falls asleep at night. This is a hard one for me. For a few reasons. First, I often have work to be down for my work at home gig and I tend to do that late at night once both kids are asleep. Second (and probably the “real” reason) is the nighttime dread. I had this when Flynn was an infant, but I really have it with Nola. You know that shortly after falling asleep, Nola (or Flynn) is going to wake up and ruin your sleep and so you avoid sleeping all together. Waking up at 3 AM to see what antics Milly from Scandal pulled now seems doable, but waking at 11:30 PM just minutes after you fall asleep (only to have multiple more night wakings to follow) sounds miserable. Just do it. If both kids are asleep by 9:30 GO TO BED. Stop blogging. Stop reading Suri’s Burnbook and go to bed, Theresa.
Advice #7 Put a bra on in the morning. My only requirements for leaving the house is wear a bra. And to be honest sometimes Nola won’t stop screaming her head off that I throw both kids in the car and drive around
coveting looking at people’s houses braless. However, my recommendations is throw the bra on in the morning. And preferably put the shirt over top. Otherwise, you will end up downstairs yelling at Flynn to stop eating crayons in your bra just as the lawn man shows up to wake up Nola mow the grass. If you have the extra 10 minutes and can throw together an outfit (you know yoga pants and white tee) all the better. But a bra makes leaving the house possible.
Advice #8 Make a list of places to escape to with both kids.and actually write out the list because some days you will forget life exists outside your four walls. For me my list includes places like the library, Barnes and Noble, Please Touch Museum and the zoo. Please Touch is a little harder, but is doable. The others are easy to keep Flynn busy while not being too crowded and allowing me a space to feed Nola without having people freak out or give me the stink eye. My grandmother’s house, Princeton Marketfair and on warm days an easy playground (think fences, not too many open holes for Flynn jump out off). The more you are out of the house, the saner you will feel. It also gives you an excuse for why you didn’t make dinner. Or empty those baskets.
Advice #9 Relax a little. With Flynn I really did not allow much TV watching or screen time in general. I also didn’t let him eat snnnacccks or french fries. However, once Nola arrived Flynn got a few minutes of netflix that now has turned in to long stretches of full length films like Cars and Frozen all while chowing down on some Chick fil A. I am not proud of this, but I am happy that when I need it – he is addicted to Cars and will happily rewatch the same race scene over and over. Forgive yourself. Use it. You can take it away once your life reaches a saner place. Sometimes what you swore you wouldn’t do before you had kids – you didn’t do with your first – but the second will get you. Break you down. And make you eat your words. Relax a little. Bribe with snacks. Turn on the TV. And just take a minute to sit and scroll instagram feeds of people who are doing this parenting thing way better than you are at the current moment. It isn’t a nap, but it is a chance to sit for just one damn minute.
Advice #10. Since I need 10 – because every list needs to have 5 of 10. I would say do what works for you. I read a blog last night – in the midst of a Nola 3 hour middle of the night jam fest. The woman was discussing her schedule with two kids. It was nice and organized and even included time to workout and I thought wow she is better than me getting that schedule down. Then I read the comments and her replies. She pretty much stated this was her ideal – that a lot of days things go wrong. A kid doesn’t nap. She is out running errands. I didn’t even want to point out that also in a month or two that infant that sleeps all the time – won’t. So the me time scheduled midday – probably won’t happen. As I read the comments though, I realized this woman posted a schedule just like I write out a schedule a lot of nights of how I want my day to go. And in reality that routine happened for her all the three maybe four times being her kid has only been alive for like 10 weeks at this point. And so read blogs, listen to advice, peruse instagram, but realize that these outlets are a way for some moms to show the glory. the beautiful moments. and at that is okay. if you realize that. if you realize that not everyday does their house look like the cover of Coastal Living. if you realize that they sure we all love out husbands, but just last night they told him to go pick up the f’in baby. now. and that didn’t get posted on instagram. realize that their kid just pooped up that really cute outfit the same way your baby just pooped up his onesie. Their’s is just harder to clean. Relax. Breath. And Remember that this phase will pass and before you know it you will be googling “schedule for two toddlers dr. sears”.