Juggling a three-year-old and a newborn in tow will test your parenting skills!
I had written before about how chaotic it was for me when I came home with my second baby. It was a complete shock to my system. My life was utter chaos. Sweet chaos. But chaos nonetheless.
It was hard on everyone, including Caitlyn (my three year old).
For the first few weeks, it felt as if we were only telling Caitlyn:
– to ‘be quiet.’
– that I can’t carry her
– that she cannot sleep with me.
Only telling her things she cannot do.
Patience was very thin; energy levels were low. I was not prepared.Juggling a three-year-old and a newborn will test your parenting skills. Click To Tweet
Caitlyn threw the most intense tantrums during this time
During one epic tantrum episode, a ‘concerned neighbour’ came by to ‘check up on us’. At this point, I already SOSed (whatsapped) my husband to:
‘Please, COME HOME NOW! I don’t care what meeting you are in.’
Ava on the other hand, was a relatively calm baby. She needed to be continuously held and needed a lot of cuddling to fall asleep (as a newborn that was expected). Till today, Ava remains a very affectionate toddler, I think that is her vibe.
Regression hit us hard
Caitlyn reverted to waking up at 4 am during those days, and she wanted only me.
I only have two hands!
My thinking was that Caitlyn was three years old and she can remember. How I engage with her will have a lasting impact on her relationship with me and her bond with her sister.
Although Ava needed a lot of care and attention, I had to find a way to maintain a connection with my eldest.
Creating space to find one on one time with my three year old was vital for me
Although I felt overwhelmed, I carved out playtime with Caitlyn during my maternity leave.
Caitlyn was also on school holidays when Ava was six weeks old. So I had them both to myself. All day! Luckily I was not alone during the day. I had a helper in the day.
Here are six tips on how to juggle a three-year-old and a newborn.
6 Tips For Juggling a Three Year Old and a Newborn
Wear your baby
Wearing your baby provides you with an extra set of hands. I had a cloth wrap and a Tiny Love – Tiny Hugs Carrier. The Tiny Love Carrier was freaking amazing!
I loved it so much.
I could carry and cuddle our newborn baby while playing with Caitlyn.
Recreate your family’s routine
Establish a new family routine. Before Ava came home, we had a lovely organized family evening routine. We had dinner together and cleaned up together. However, we could not sustain it.
We changed our whole routine. Brought Caitlyn’s supper earlier, so that at least she can be done eating by the time the bath routine started for the baby (around 17h00 ish). Then Caitlyn still needed to bath.
At that point I was not okay to do bath them together.
Come to think of it, this routine did not work out. Only when we placed the girls on a synchronizes evening routine, we started to settle. Now they eat and bath together.
It does not matter how chaotic it gets, at least I know there is an end in sight. Early bedtimes are a non negotiable in our home (unless there is a special occasion).
Let your older child help out and get involved
Get your older child involved by asking her to fetch things for the baby.
When I put the baby down, and we sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ I also got Caitlyn to sing it with me. It was much better than saying ‘keep quiet please, mommy is putting the baby down.’
When it was time for the baby to sleep, of course my three year old never kept quiet. She always seemed to appear needing something (loudly) at the very moment the baby was settling down.#3 Let your older child help out, by asking them to fetch things or sing lullabies to the baby. Click To Tweet
When the baby is sleeping, spend alone time with your toddler
When the baby slept, I was with Caitlyn. No sleeping when the baby sleeps for me.
I watched TV with her, brushed her hair, ate with her, etc.
If you have a caregiver, use them
If you have a caregiver, leave the baby with the caregiver for thirty minutes will be okay.
I started leaving Ava for short periods from about six weeks old. If she was fed, rested and happy it was cool. Taking Caitlyn outside (just the two of us) for some play time was great (tiring but it was necessary).
Watch a movie together
If you have to keep the baby on you, that is okay. Chill watching a movie and kill two birds with one stone.
Caitlyn and I get to watch TV together, and Ava gets her cuddles in as a newborn too.
Figuring out how to juggle a three year old when I came home with my newborn, was a challenging and chaotic time.
To be honest my first reaction was to prioritize the baby’s needs and let Caitlyn take a back seat. However, these actions made me feel sad and it saddened Caitlyn too. So I changed the situation.
It was stressful, but we needed to go through it, to create our own unique rhythm as a family.
Now, these two girls are so in love with each other. My favourite cheesy ‘sisters’ quote is:
Sisters are friends forever