how to cope with a toddler and newborn - help!

(30 Posts)
spritesoright Sat 22-Feb-14 06:20:52

DD2 is 1 week old, DD1 is 2.5 and DH goes back to work next week. I am stressing about how I will cope. MIL can probably come for the first few days and DD1 will be in nursery 2 days a week but my family are overseas and can't come to help.
The impression I got from the health visitor is that this won't be enough. She said DD1 will become resentful of all the breastfeeding even if she's thrilled to be a big sister now and we should get out of the house every day. It is a military operation to get the four of us out of the house currently so I don't know how I am going to manage it on my own. A lot of the council baby groups are limited in places so you have to be there early which seems near impossible currently.
What do you think is realistic to accomplish at this stage and should I take up friends on offers of park visits/babysitting DD?

MrsJamin Sat 22-Feb-14 06:35:04

Your health visitor has scared you unnecessarily! Yes it is tricky to get organised but you will find your own pattern. I have just over 2 years between my boys and ds1 didn't have enough preschool until ds2 was 7 months. My biggest tips would be to sling the baby when out so you have your hands free to help your toddler. I went out every morning to a different group, so we had a daily pattern and a reason to get out of the house. It does get easier and quicker I promise. Another V important thing is for you to get adult conversation once a day. Days when I just spent time with the boys were days when I was losing the plot by the end of the day. Also loosen up on your toddler routine eg they don't have to have a bath every day and they won't forget to eat normal food if they have fish fingers most nights. You can do it. You are enough!

leelteloo Sat 22-Feb-14 06:40:23

Congratulations! I think your hv is scaring you unnecessarily. Has dd1 actually shown signs of sibling rivalry? Not all children react badly to the birth of a brother or sister. My two youngest are 6 weeks and 17 months and some days we go out but if I've been up all night the school run is all I can manage. My toddler is showing no signs of jealousy. I am taking things on an hour by hour basis. I am sure you will manage and the crazy feeding all day phase doesn't last that long. Good luck smile

leelteloo Sat 22-Feb-14 06:40:59

Lol jinks Mrs j

lanbro Sat 22-Feb-14 06:42:53

Silly hv! When you are feeding you can read a book withdd1, ask her draw you a pic and remember tv is your friend!

Def do try to get out every day and have some adult conversation otherwise it will be a very long day! 18 months between my girls and it hasn't been the nightmare I envisaged. Lots of telling dd1 she's a big girl and kind big sister, and lots of attention for dd1 when dd2 was tiny, so long as baby is fed and changed they don't need much more in the early days

leelteloo Sat 22-Feb-14 06:55:49

Oh and I second the sling advise. I bought a Cabo close & I can safely say it has been best baby purchase ever. Wished I had had one with the other two dc. I can do almost anything with him in the sling and it's soothes him instantly if he is gripy.

Monkeyandanimal Sat 22-Feb-14 06:59:41

We have similar age gaps here. I agree, i think your HV is being unnecessarily negative; you will be just fine. Don't try to achieve too much. Do try to get out for a walk/fresh air each day, but if you feel like staying in and just playing at home that's fine too! Try to get to some activity/group once or twice week for both toddler and mummy sanity (although i find these groups a bit of a hassle tbh; good for the kids though; may not be for you anyway, i think a walk in the fresh air is better). Honestly, it will be just fine. Second babies get used to being put down while parent plays with the older child and don't suffer for it. Just try to give DD1 some one to one time when baby napping/in sling asleep and she will be fine too! Forget all but very basic housework! You don't need to worry, all will slot into place.

Bryzoan Sat 22-Feb-14 07:00:50

Your baby is one week old! Your hv is not being realistic and I'm sorry you feel so under pressure. I had a newborn and a toddler just over a year ago and the first bit is just about survival - don't put pressure on yourself and take whatever support is available. Things will start getting a bit easier in a month or two. My tips

- don't feel guilty about using cebeebies quite a bit in the early days - it will be short-lived

- try reading to your toddler while you bf once you have bf more established - that way both get a cuddle

- I used to work my way down a checklist to decide who to deal with next...
1) is everyone safe
2))is everyone fed
3) Is everyone meeting basic personal hygiene?
4) is everyone happy?
If you get to level 3 that is success for a while! Some hours you might manage all to entertain eachother and even have fun. Enjoy feeling like Mary poplins for a bit - but don't worry that you can't sustain it. It just is really hard to start with, but I promise it will get easier. Once your baby is a bit stronger a sling is brilliant for getting out. I even used to take dd round soft play with baby ds in a sling.

Good luck. Hang in there for now it will get better.

Bryzoan Sat 22-Feb-14 07:07:00

You could use a sling to get out more easily now too - but maybe not around soft play!

Also we are in a different place as my toddler doesn't walk yet (though my baby is starting to!) but I'm now finding a good double pushchair which you can get both in and out of easily invaluable. I love my out n about nipper and wish I had got it a lot earlier.

OhNoGeorge Sat 22-Feb-14 07:10:34

Congratulations on your baby! And don't worry, the HV is being unnecessarily negative! It will be fine. 20m between my two and no sign of major sibling rivalry yet.

My main tips are:

- Get a sling and take it wherever you go. And maybe a double buggy - even if older DC is a good walker it can be useful for containment!

- Have a good changing bag and make sure it's packed each evening with nappies, food, toys, drink, etc. Then even if you're only in the house you know where the basics are and it's portable!

- Don't try to do too much - groups with a set start time add to the stress! Park, meeting friends, playgroup is all good.

- If your older DC likes cafés/ is well behaved going out it can be good to give them lunch out sometimes - coffee shops are a good way to kill time and often quiet during the day, have comfy sofas for BF, toddler can have a little hot choc as a treat, you get to eat too, someone else clears up!

Good luck!

ipswichwitch Sat 22-Feb-14 07:12:44

DS1 is 2.4 and DS2 10 weeks and yes some days it can seem to take forever getting out the door, but we are finding our feet and its getting much easier. I try and get things organised the night before (clothes for DC, breakfast stuff, etc) so mornings aren't so rushed and we can get out to groups on time.

DS2 is bf and DS1 has shown absolutely no sign of resentment, so don't let the HV scare you into thinking that's a given. I try and involve DS1 in everything (he gets nappies out, sits and chats to DS2 while I change him), and sometimes while I bf I just use a free hand to cuddle him as well.

I try to get out every day, even if it's just to the local park, and find the sling a godsend so I have both hands free to help DS1. Since DS2 in pretty much in sleepsuits all the time I don't always change it before we go out (he gets a fresh one on for bed anyway and unless there's been a poo explosion it'll be clean), so that speeds things up first thing in the morning. Breakfast dishes can wait until you're back home. I know it may seem overwhelming right now, but you'll have it dissed pretty soon, just don't sweat the small stuff, give plenty attention to DD 1 and things will be fine.

spritesoright Sat 22-Feb-14 09:48:53

Thanks for the reassurances ladies, all fabulous advice. I am also going to insist that DH get up a bit earlier to dress and feed DD1 before he leaves.
We currently just have a buggy board but DD1 hasn't really taken to it so perhaps I will invest in a second hand double buggy. She's a good walker but also very independent and I don't know what I'll do if she tantrums and I can't strap her in.
I have a mei tai sling that is working out well so far. I tried the big wrap ones but found it difficult to rewrap if she came out.
Yes, I find the church run groups more flexible with spaces/times so those might be better for us for now. I have also found them a bit more laid back in terms of supervision whereas children's centre ones there is an unwritten expectation you will be constantly interacting with your child (as opposed to sat in the corner feeding other child).
It's just a relief to hear from other mums that this is doable and I don't need an army if helpers set up.

spritesoright Sat 22-Feb-14 09:53:28

Oh, and DD is overall really enthusiastic about little sister but some minor shows of aggression like after holding DD will say 'I kick baby' though she hasn't.
I guess it's her way of working out conflicting emotions and I just tell her that's not nice, you don't want to kick DD.
Not sure to even comment on it or just ignore.

ipswichwitch Sat 22-Feb-14 14:39:56

Personally I think you're handling the kick comments the right way - just say no we don't do that without making a huge fuss. DS1 has looked like he might whack DS2 a couple of times in a boisterous play type of way, but I said the same in a normal tone of voice and it's not been an issue since. He's given me a whack instead if I've done anything to make DS2 cry such as putting his eye drops in!

Getting your DH to dress DD1 of a morning is a good idea - my DH gets DS1 ready on his nursery day (kept him in 1 day a week as he loves is and it keeps his place open for when I'm back to work), which means I can get DS2 fed and make sure we're out the door on time.

I have ds1 who is 2.5 and a 6 week old. Take each day as it comes, don't feel like you have to go out. Ds1 goes in the pushchair when he no longer wants to walk and ds2 is in the sling

MiaowTheCat Sun 23-Feb-14 18:24:01

Bloody HV! For what it's worth - there's 11 months between mine and I'm still (just about - dd1 has hit the terrible twos BIG TIME this month) standing!

Double buggy - even if it's a very knackered phil and teds type so you have emergency containment to hand if required, slings if they work for you (with dd2 for us they didn't - she hated feeling confined and my pelvis was bloody knackered - taken 4 months of physio to start to fix it), and not stressing the small stuff!

For what it's worth with the children's centre - I flagged up to mine that there were certain activities that made life really difficult for me to control a tornado DD1 while also managing a very high-needs, refluxy and ill with an undiagnosed allergy DD2... they always make a point of mentioning to their volunteers and staff to help me keep an eye on both together and if something like paint is out someone will help engage DD1 now DD2 is off cruising in the opposite direction!

puntasticusername Sun 23-Feb-14 22:04:10

sad at your HV. Well intentioned no doubt, but probably unhelpful!

Another one here to reassure you that sibling jealousy isn't inevitable - DS1 is just 3, and DS2 is nearly 10 weeks. DS1 loves him, and cuddles him at every opportunity. He sometimes gets mildly annoyed if DS2 is crying and he can't hear the TV, but that's it!

Def make bf into a time when you give your elder DC some special attention eg reading a book. Or in my case, conduct pitched one-handed Ninja Turtle battles on the side of my chair.

One thing I do (I've no idea if it really helps or not, but hey) is to lay it on with a trowel whenever I put DS2 down in order to do something for DS1. So if DS2 is crying because I've had the temerity to park him under his baby gym for five minutes, I call out to him "hang on please, DS2, I'm just helping DS1 get his shoes on right now, I'll come and help you when I'm finished". This seems to help reassure DS1 that he's still just as important to me as DS2, and to be a little more patient when I can't come to his aid immediately at other times because I'm up to my elbows in baby poo, for instance.

spritesoright Mon 24-Feb-14 01:42:18

"Lay it on with a trowel" ha ha. I'll try that. I also try to get DD to 'help' although sometimes she puts her foot down.
It's the non compliance that I/we are struggling with currently. If DD2 is in the sling I can't pick up DD to take her upstairs, put her on the booster seat or get her shoes on, for example.
This means negotiating/bribing a contrary 2 year old who thinks it's really funny to run off and hide on me.
I'm probably not dealing well with this currently as I'm so bloody tired.
Breastfeeding is still a bit stop and start meaning I can't do anything else whilst relatching/burping as infinitum. I can talk to DD though and she loves songs.
I really don't want to end up resenting DD1 but at the moment when she isn't being ridiculously cute and affectionate she is pushing boundaries big time which I guess goes with the territory.

puntasticusername Mon 24-Feb-14 08:36:58

Yeah, unfortunately so - she's testing you out, to seek reassurance about her position in the family now that it has a new member who is taking up so much of your time and attention.

If you can't manage stories etc for her while bf, how about a special toy or colouring book that she can do by herself, that she only gets while you're feeding? Or <whispers> CBeebies?

Otherwise, keep going with your normal good parenting techniques - praise and positivity, ignore as much of the bad stuff as you can, praise the good behaviour to the skies. Make a lot of her being the big sister, what an important job it is. Encourage visitors to pay her just as much attention as they do the baby (many people are savvy enough to do this anyway, but some need a gentle hint!).

And be kind to yourself - don't worry if you're not always doing as well as you feel you ought to be. As you say, this is a really rough time while your littlest one is so small and you're so tired. You're very probably doing just fine!

Spottybra Mon 24-Feb-14 08:43:09

You will be fine. I had an almost 2 year old and a newborn and coped all by myself. Other people were just an interference.

Plan your day into half hours which helps to break down the long day.

Don't be scared of bf in public.

A trip to the park or shops always takes at least twice as long as planned, something to bear in mind. Mine used to love the cafe whilst I bf.

Put the baby down in a Moses basket once asleep and poo outside to play with your eldest, bubbles, football, a ride on bike and a space hopper were fantastic toys, and the sandpit was the best present from my MIL ever!

Spottybra Mon 24-Feb-14 08:43:45

Go outside, please don't poo outside.

Antidote Mon 24-Feb-14 08:53:27

Sounds like you've had loads of excellent advice already but here are my tips:

1. Be prepared to have a few huge tantrums from dd1 but set a few non negotiable rules esp about getting into the pushchair and leaving / finishing activities etc. I find setting a "pinger" on my phone for 3 minutes with plenty of warnings (the time it takes me to get my shoes, coat and sling on) and then it is "time to go". The first few times ds had a furious meltdown and had to be manhandled into the car but now is like Pavlov's dog grin.

2. Have a safe place you can put dd2 down while you catch, dress, change dd1.

3. Take up all offers of help, and don't be shy to say " please take dd1 to the park for an hour!"

4. Weirdly, I find the most restful activity of the week is supermarket shopping. Both in trolley seats, lots to look at and I became adept at timing it to coincide with a nap in the car on the way home so I could unpack in peace and have a coffee!

crazyhead Mon 24-Feb-14 13:42:56

I wonder how your health visitor thinks that every other person has coped with this exceptionally common scenario? Honestly!

I have/had a similar situation DS2 is now nearly four months, DS1 is 27 months. I had more help in the first six weeks than you but after that, similar.

Drop your standards like a stone, remember if yor DD1 is stroppy it won't last. As someone says, if you need to feed on a park bench, don't worry about it.

Nothing but practice will get you fluent at it all (the order of putting on your shoes, baby in sling, toddler in buggy is pretty taxing to begin with) but you'll cope. A lot of people out and about have been there themselves and are kind and helpful.

Good luck.

Bumpsadaisie Mon 24-Feb-14 14:44:53

It is a military operation to get the four of us out of the house currently so I don't know how I am going to manage it on my own.

Remember you probably felt like this when you had just the one tiny DD1! The answer is that you give it a roll, and get better and better at it. It will be carnage first time - never mind. You'll soon be a pro.

You've only been a parent of two for a week. In a months time things will feel quite different, in three months, different still. It won't be long before you can't imagine life with just one child.

Don't think your HV is being that helpful. I had the same gap with mine. My DD wasn't really very jealous of DS at all. Sometimes she wanted to sit on my knee when he was feeding, but I would just sit her next to me and we would read or watch Cbeebies together.

IME the jealousy/sibling fighting issues get much worse as the baby matures from a little doll who just sits where placed and feeds and sleeps into a fully mobile talking other personality who can grab your eldests toys and argue with them! The newborn phase is the easy bit (IME at least - but then DS was a chilled baby who didn't impinge much on DD, perhaps it would be different if you had a very demanding newborn).

Good luck, soon the weather will be warmer and you will be confidently taking them both out on trips without a second thought. Just needs time.

Bumpsadaisie Mon 24-Feb-14 14:45:40

Sorry that was supposed to be italics, not strikethrough!

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