Parenting a newborn and toddler is bloody difficult. I can’t sugar coat it. The first month, especially, because you’re just recovering from birth too. Unlike the time when you just had one baby, you now have to drag yourself out of bed with your eyes half closed and hope for the best. There’s no chance of a nap, and there’s no chance of quiet either. In fact, if you can get them both to nap at the same time, you probably have someone watching you from above. So far, that has happened to us twice, and it was bloody glorious.
The month whizzed by.
We had ups and downs and everything in between. I also think I had a collective amount of around 3 hours sleep in the whole month too.
The first week, in particular, was extremely difficult. Oscar, who isn’t the jealous type at all, was extremely jealous and starting to act up constantly. He began hitting us and also started trying to hit George if he couldn’t get his own way. I know he was just frustrated and didn’t mean it but it was so hard not to get angry at him, although I really tried not to. I’d finally returned home from hospital after 3 days and I could tell by his face that he didn’t know what was going on. I just wanted to hold him, but thanks to my second emergency caesarean I couldn’t. I think I spent the first week in tears.
You completely forget about the hormones and the baby blues. They really took me by surprise this time. If I was more prepared to give birth I would have handled it better, but I was crying over absolutely everything.
Oscar really wanted to play with George too. It was hard for him to understand that he was tiny and that he had to be careful though. We put George in his baby swing and Oscar was pushing him extra hard. Although we tried to get him to do it gently, he just wouldn’t grasp what we were saying at all.
Of course, George was then swiftly removed from said swing before we had to peel him off the ceiling.
We did try to get Oscar as involved as we possibly could, though. I know lots of people say it, but getting him involved in nappy changes was great. He didn’t pass the wipes, but he did try to put George’s dummy in his mouth repeatedly. Admittedly, with a bit of force, but he did try. Whenever George was crying, Oscar ran over and held his hand. If he asked to hold him, we would place him carefully on his knee while he is sat nicely.
He was so amazing, to be honest.
One thing I found really helpful was having a travel cot to put George’s Moses basket in through the day. When I had finished feeding George, I tried my best to put him down and to focus on Oscar as much as I possibly could. It was easier for Oscar to forget about George if he was ‘out of sight’ and he stopped trying to throw things at him or wake him up. It also stopped allowing Oscar to reach into the Moses Basket or to shake it (which I found him doing a few times). I’d be nervous about leaving the room in case he knocked it over, so having the travel cot there really helped. Of course I then had to be extremely careful that he didn’t throw things in it though.
The hardest part about the whole month, in my opinion, was breast feeding. We had extreme difficulties at first (but that is a separate post altogether) but oh my god the cluster feeding. If you found it hard with one baby, you will find it almost impossible with two. One night I was awake every ten minutes between midnight and 6am. Imagine getting up with a toddler and looking after them all day after that kind of sleep. No thanks.
Don’t make your toddler become a ‘Big Boy/Girl’.
It was extremely weird to go home to Oscar after I had spent 3 days pretty much alone with George. All of a sudden, Oscar seemed huge. I remember changing his bum for the first time after I got home, and I couldn’t quite believe the size of his legs. It really dawned on me at that point just how much Oscar had grown since he was born and that hit me like a ton of bricks.
All of a sudden he felt like a full grown child.
A lot of people fall into the trap of treating them like they’re so grown up and then don’t understand why they’re acting out. Not only do they have to get used to a new family member who has taken away their attention, but they’re suddenly being spoken to and treat differently too. As much as he seemed a ‘big boy’, I had to consciously remind myself that he actually wasn’t. He was newly two year old, and still a baby himself. I didn’t expect too much of him and gave him as many cuddles as I could to try and get it through to him that he was still my baby too.
Another thing we did was not separate them too much. It’s really daunting when your newborn is home, and you realise just how rough your toddler can be. I will admit I probably shouted “careful” at least 100 times in the first week, but eventually we didn’t need to tell him and he just was.
Oh, and we also allowed him to play with George’s things in order to let the novelty wear off… it still hasn’t.
We tried our best to follow Oscars lead because he was the one who needed to do the most adjusting. Eventually, the jealousy dissipated. He suddenly knew that we loved them both the same, but George just needed slightly more attention.
The most important thing, if you have the option, is accepting support and sharing the load. It’s borderline impossible to take it all on, physically and mentally. The support from Anthony was invaluable and I don’t know how I would have got through the days without him. I can’t believe there are single parents out there who manage to do it on their own.
Modern day superheroes, if you ask me.
We are now 10 weeks in and George almost isn’t classed as a newborn anymore. I will be extremely cliche in saying it does get easier. When you’re settled into some form of routine, the days disappear in a flash. More importantly, make sure to let yourself recover and don’t expect too much. The adjustment is hard for everyone at first so is never going to be easy.
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