Are you expecting your second child? Caring for a newborn AND a toddler takes some juggling. Here are some of my anxieties of balancing newborn and toddler needs.
Here’s the cruel thing about pregnancy: no matter how difficult it is, the months after giving birth are worse.
Tired from peeing five times at night and having no stamina to do anything productive? You’ll be even more tired with nighttime wakings and even less energy. No time to cook a decent family dinner?
Expect to rely on donated, frozen or take-out food once the baby is here. And if you’re worn down from meeting the needs of an older child, trying adding another child to the mix.
Can I take care of a three-year-old and two newborns and recover while sleep deprived?
My anxieties of balancing newborn and toddler needs:
You see, despite this blog’s moniker, sleep has been pretty easy for us as of late. Every night, our three-year-old goes down to bed and sleeps 12 hours straight.
Every night, I love that my husband and I can read, cook, watch a movie and not take care of any kids. Except now I know that this leisure will be gone the second those babies are born.
I’m anxious about how my eldest will adjust to sharing his parents’ attention. Like most first borns, he only knows a life where he is the center of attention. And while he gets plenty of independent play, all he has ever known is being our only concern. Not only will he share our attention, he’ll also most likely have much less of it compared to his brothers.
I’m especially in a bind because my son is more attached to me than anyone else. The boy has a difficult time letting me go instead spending time with other people. I imagine it’ll be difficult for him to understand when other people say “Mama has to take a nap. Why don’t we play in the living room?”
And I still have the newborns to contend with. As much as I’m trying to drill the idea of twins in my head, I still think of the babies as one unit. After all, I’m only dealing with one pregnancy, and their needs in utero remain the same.
But once they’re born, they’ll have separate needs. Maybe one baby has jaundice while the other isn’t gaining weight. Or one baby can’t latch on while the other doesn’t sleep well.
Plus they won’t wake up, burp, feed, sleep, poop or do everything synchronized. Rather than one baby, I have two, and that scares the world out of me.
I understand this birth order isn’t unusual. But I still imagine a preschooler and two newborns and wonder, How will I balance balancing newborn and toddler needs?
- Is it just a matter of resorting to the bare bones with no sleep, improper hygiene and poor nutrition?
- Do older kids just tough it out and have less attention from their parents?
- And I’ve read and heard many times that twins will never know the same attention a singleton baby would have. There’s just not enough time. What of their needs?
I’m scared of balancing newborn and toddler needs. Still, my husband and I are doing our best to help our preschooler transition to the biggest change in his life.
- We try to glorify his new role as the big brother. We praise the times when he takes good care of me or the babies, such as when he “puts me to sleep” or lotions my belly. I’m hoping this new role will be one he’ll embrace with pride. He sees how much he can do that the babies can’t yet do for themselves.
- We also don’t blame the babies for changes in his life he may not appreciate. We moved him to a new bed not because the babies need a place to sleep. We told him it’s because he’s growing bigger and needs more space. When we tell him I can no longer walk around the block with him, it’s because I feel tired, not because I’m pregnant.
- And we’re acclimating him to spending more time with others and having a life apart from the babies. Attending preschool and visiting family are some examples.
I know in the long run we’ll survive, just as we did with our first born when we thought the madness would never end. Managing newborn and toddler needs is possible, as proof of the many other families who have done it. Maybe human instincts just power through. We somehow get things done without completely depleting our resources.
For now, I savor the quiet time after putting the little guy to sleep. The time when I can choose to do whatever I want, where no one depends on me, at least for another few months. And when I start questioning my predicament, I tell myself life will work out, as it always has.
One-year update: It has worked out! I’m alone with all three in the afternoons and they’ve all adjusted well with one another. They’re patient, and my older son can entertain himself or play with his brothers. The first few weeks and months were tough, but now they get along so well.
Get more tips about balancing newborn and toddler needs:
- How to Get Things Done with a Baby
- Baby Must-Haves that Will Make Your Life Easier
- Newborn Care Tips and Tricks for New Moms You’ll Be Glad You Read
- What to Do when Your Baby Needs to Be Entertained Constantly
- “Help! My Newborn Only Sleeps when Held.”
I also created this feeding and diaper tracker that’s yours free when you sign up for my newsletter: