Two Times the Love!

On the 20th February 2014, our little family of three became a family of four with the arrival of our second son.  It’s certainly been a very busy time and I’m reminded how quickly babies grow from scrunched up newborns, to little people bursting with personality.  Naturally, this has been a period of adjustment for our two year old son to deal with, but he’s coped with it really well.  An added bonus was having his Dad home to be his personal playmate whilst I worked out which buttons to push to care for the new arrival.  Now I’m not sure that I’m qualified to offer advice only 10 weeks into the ‘two-children-to-care-for-journey’ but here are my learnings to date. 

A buggy is one of the major purchases you’ll make in the baby equipment category.  Make sure you choose a buggy which can grow with your family.  We have the phil & teds explorer buggy (a legacy model) and we purchased it because it had the capacity to carry two children.  We love it!  The double seat can be fitted in two places on the buggy frame.  The first position is attaching on the top of the existing buggy frame (for your older child), allowing baby to lie flat on the reclined main buggy seat.  Our second baby had colic/wind issues and we found it very useful to slightly raise the angle of the buggy seat rather than having it completely flat.  It can be a challenge explaining to your toddler that baby is lying ‘underneath’ them – I’m hoping our toddler doesn’t replicate this same position on the lounge floor minus the buggy seat! When baby is older, the second seat also fits underneath the main seat so you have two children sitting in an upright position.  There is still some room in the parcel tray for a nappy bag, as long as it’s not enormous.  Alternatively, you can buy clip on cargo bags or phil&teds pannier bags  for extra storage.  You can buy storm covers which accommodate the double buggy set up. I find that the buggy gives both children a smooth ride, even across rough terrain.  It’s also easy to navigate through internal doorways as it’s not an awkwardly wide set up.

Got another pair of hands to push a buggy?  We sometimes take two buggies on our outings.  Our baby enjoys the luxury of the peanut carry cot, which was well used by our first son until he was nearly one year old.  It simply clips onto the buggy or stroller frame .  The carrycot  is well worth the investment. If baby is still asleep on our travels, we also find the phil&teds travel system immensely useful for not disturbing him.  This attachment clips onto the main buggy and allows you to fit your capsule directly onto the buggy with the baby facing towards you.  The toddler has his ride in Grandma’s smart stroller, which particularly suits him as it’s more open, allowing his inquisitive nature to take in all of the views.  Whilst it may seem daunting leaving the house with two kiddies on a walk, I highly recommend it.  Fresh air does wonders for tired mummies and bored toddlers.  If you have a good buggy, you can venture out in varied terrain, in all sorts of weather conditions.

Another good buy, cloth nappies – we invested in cloth nappies when our toddler was a baby and now that he has all but grown out of these, they are ready for another run with baby.  It really does save money in the long run using reusable nappies and if they are quality, then they’ll last for at least a couple of children.  I strongly recommend Yoyo Nappies, which are made in New Zealand and I find them more absorbent than other cloth nappies in the market.  If you’re already doing a washing load, it’s hardly more labour intensive to make it a bigger load! It’s better for the environment too!

Include your toddler by giving a ‘gift from the baby’. Prior to baby arriving, my mother and I spent several weeks gathering up a gift bag for the toddler which ‘came from the baby’.  It was useful to give to our older son to play with new things (not necessarily expensive items), when my time was taken up with lengthy breastfeeding sessions in the early days.  Time consuming puzzles, little cars, magna-doodle, soft indoor balls and new books are good treasures to put in here.  You’ll get good at balancing a feeding baby on one knee and a toddler on the other whilst you read to him.  It will be even easier when the toddler can hold the book and turn the pages!  We like to limit television time for our son, but have found the New Zealand made ‘Love to Sing’ music DVD’s to be an enjoyable activity that we can all do together during breastfeeding sessions.

Snack time! If you have a toddler who likes to graze during the day, it may be useful to prepare a lunch box of snacks in the morning that you can offer him throughout the day. Dried fruit, rice crackers, cheese, sliced fresh fruit or yoghurt are all good snack options.  You can guarantee when you sit down to feed baby, said toddler will declare he is starving.   I also find myself preparing the evening meals much earlier in the day now that I have two littlies to look after – often after baby has gone down for his first sleep of the morning.  The witching hours (anywhere between 4 and 7pm), can be particularly challenging when you have two little people to feed, clean, dress, milk and read to, so if I can get tea underway early, it’s a big help. Failing that, I strongly recommend the use of a front pack to at least keep baby settled whilst you scramble something together at short notice.

Be prepared for changes in your toddler’s behaviour with the arrival of a new sibling.  Be sympathetic to his emotions whilst continuing to maintain boundaries.  Two days after baby came home, our toddler learnt a new trick to scream at the top of his lungs for fun.  Thankfully, through totally ignoring him, he has given up this new trick.  He spent a few days jealously grabbing at baby’s clothes but soon learned to be gentle with his hands.  Try to give your toddler as much time as possible and keep up with his usual routine of activities.  Yes, it is possible, with practice, to take a toddler to Gymbaroo (highly recommended toddler activity session), to the library or local park whilst carrying around and/or feeding a baby.  Encourage him to help you care for baby – they love being helpful by fetching new nappies, wipes, bathing baby etc – just watch out for nappy cream missiles that may come flying or for your baby wipes and tissue boxes to be enthusiastically emptied. Remember to always closely supervise your children together as it’s surprising how quickly a gentle kiss can turn into a bit of unintentional rough play.

Finally, a little bit of advice that a good friend gave to me… “accept that your house, your car and your clothes will never be as clean,  your body never as tired but your heart completely, well, complete”.

About the author:

Adoring mummy to son William, 13 months. Devoted wife to Andrew. Chief dog walker to Harry & Murphy. Servant to fluffy birman cats, Tia and Tessie. Rider and trainer of horses Chance, Minnie and Lewie. Former tourism leader, hotel general manager and sales manager. Director of a stay at home mummy business 'Harry & Murphy Productions'. Hobby photographer. Sewer. Consumer and creator and fine foods..

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