Monday, 3 July 2017

MOTHERHOOD: My First Day Alone with a Toddler and Newborn

As I write this it is a few days before my husband returns to work after two weeks paternity leave and I'm left alone with our two children for the first time. Simply writing that makes my tummy flip - how can I look after two children...by myself? I'm outnumbered. Their needs are so different. The guilt is already beginning to build. When paternity leave came to an end with our first baby it was a daunting concept, but I felt under control. If I didn't get dressed all day it didn't matter. If we didn't leave the house for days in a row our newborn baby wouldn't mind. I slept when she slept. I met friends for cake and tea. I lived the maternity leave dream and for that I was extremely lucky.



However it is different this time. Different in so many ways. I don't have a group of friends with both a baby and toddler, it does matter if I don't get dressed or leave the house and there is certainly no time for relaxing tea/cake consumption with two children requiring your attention. As the time approaches for my husband to return to work I'm faced with a whole new challenge, looking after a newborn and toddler by myself. I have moments where I feel like I can do this - Poppy sleeps a lot still and I know how to entertain Isabella. If we don't leave the house I feel like I've got this; it's going to be tricky but it may just be manageable. When it comes to the idea of leaving the house my brain turns to mush at just the thought of how that would logistically work. How do you get two children safely into the car? What order do you get them out at the other end? What happens if Poppy suddenly needs feeding? What happens if Isabella refuses to follow instructions/listen? So many questions and worries that I know will only be answered once I do it...I leave the house with two children in tow.


Part of me is excited for the challenge, after all however much I worry it is my reality now. But another part of me is so incredibly nervous that it's keeping me up at night and the cause of many tears. So I thought I'd document what our first day alone was like - will it be full of stressful moments or will it run relatively smoothly? Only time will tell...

The day started at 5.30am when Isabella woke up, since it has been lighter in the morning we've been greeted with pretty early wake up calls. Isabella watched Peter Rabbit on the tablet while I fed Poppy and my husband got ready for work. At around 7.30am we waved my husband off to work and so began solo parenting of two children. At this point I felt scared; I just kept thinking that there are two of them and only one of me. But then tried to tell myself that I'm the adult and was in control (even if it didn't entirely feel like that!).

Next came one of the trickiest parts of the day - getting everyone dressed and ready. I started with Isabella, as Poppy was sleeping. She's always been hard work to get dressed, so the time pressure of Poppy waking up didn't help. Eventually Isabella was dressed, hair was up and Poppy had started crying. I fed Poppy, while Isabella bought me most of the toys from her room and repeatedly asked for breakfast. It's so hard for her to understand that we can't be completely led by just her anymore. Once Poppy was content I got her dressed, then myself (didn't bother with make-up for the first time in forever) and we headed downstairs.

Isabella's very good at getting her own bowl and cup in the morning, so she did that while I settled Poppy in the bouncer. Weetabix was the breakfast of choice, along with a cup of water and half an apple. While Isabella ate breakfast Poppy was sleeping and I put away an online food shop that had been delivered. That all went surprisingly smoothly and I even managed to make a cup of tea, though I did drink it cold about an hour later but you can't have it all!
We then went into the living room to play, which involved covering a lot of surfaces with stickers and doing a few puzzles. I had to feed Poppy again, so set up the puzzles on the sofa next to me and helped Isabella do them. Talk about a juggling act. I decided some fresh air would be a good idea and an effective way of exhausting Isabella before her nap time. Exhausted toddler = longer nap! We just went for a quick walk around the village, with Isabella in the pushchair (she got out and walked down a path where there are no cars) and Poppy in the Ergobaby 360 Baby Carrier*. We have the Infant Insert* in the Baby Carrier, so that Poppy is fully supported and in the correct position. She was so snuggly in there and fell asleep within minutes!
When we were back Isabella had a cup of 'tea' (warm milk), before heading up to bed for a book and nap. Poppy had another feed before I got myself some lunch and just took a few minutes to relax. I then had a good two hours while both children were sleeping - couldn't believe my luck! I used that time to write this post, have a hot cup of tea and tidy up. I used to tidy up as we went along, but with two I've quickly learnt that I'd be fighting a losing battle so it's better to do it at the end of the day/nap time.

When Isabella finally woke she had a late lunch/early dinner of homemade fish pie and a yogurt. We then played downstairs for a while, so that I could feed Poppy. Once everyone was fed and happy we headed upstairs to take some photo's. I wanted to try and get some more sibling photos before Poppy changes too much from a squishy newborn. Though trying to set up shots, take the photo and keep two children happy was a bit of a task! I managed to get a couple of nice photos and then we called it a day - I think little and often is going to be key now.

I decided to do bath time a lot earlier than usual, so that there was less pressure to get the bath done quickly before bedtime. I was pretty nervous about how I was going to logistically do bath time. Poppy lay in a breastfeeding pillow while I bathed Isabella, which worked well until she decided she needed feeding. At which point I had to feed Poppy, while trying to wash Isabella and then dry her. Luckily Poppy's so light still it wasn't too tricky, but we're going to have to come up with a different way when she gets heavier.

By this time it was around 5pm, so we went downstairs to play and for Isabella to have a snack tea. We built a house out of duplo, while I fed Poppy. This is the time when Poppy feeds for a long time, which isn't ideal as it coincides with the in famous witching hour, Isabella's bedtime and when my energy levels are at their lowest. I need to try breastfeeding wearing the Ergobaby 360 Baby Carrier, so that it can be relatively hands free. 
Once Poppy was filled up enough to be happy for a bit we headed upstairs for the bedtime routine - teeth, book, cuddles, bed. Isabella likes Poppy to lie on her bed or give her a cuddle while I'm reading a book, which is just the cutest! All the lights then went out, Isabella snuggled down and I sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while rubbing her back. For this I went and laid Poppy in her Babybay* because I think it is important that for those few minutes it is just Isabella and I. Most of the day there is a baby between us, our hugs are side ones as I'm feeding or one hand is supporting Poppy, so having that 1:1 time to say goodnight is so precious.  

The day was very similar to the routine we had when it was just Isabella; I guess that's how it works...the second baby just has to fit in. Overall the first day on my own wasn't half as bad as I thought it was going to be. There were stressful moments, but I don't feel like it's an unachievable task anymore. I won't be up all night tonight worrying about what tomorrow holds.

I can do this. If you're in my position too, then remember...You can too.

Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)

Helen x 
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15 comments

  1. Thank you for this blog. I have a two-year-old and I'm expecting in February, there will be just under a three year gap between my two. I am really nervous as my toddler is very demanding and doesn't nap anymore but reading your blog has put my mind at ease so thank you for this.

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    1. Aww I'm glad my experience can offer you some comfort - it is surprising how quickly you adapt :)

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  2. Ahh congratulations on making it through the day!! It's so daunting when you're left alone with more than one child! I'm a mummy of five and remember when I had a newborn, a 12 month old, a 25 month old and an 8 year old.....I was TERRIFIED!! xx

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  3. Looks like you did fabulous !

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  4. I remember feeling so much pressure in those early days as a mum of two, but it sounds like you did so well. I think earlier bath times definitely take the pressure off before bed!

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  5. Ahh so glad it went well, I would have been a nervous wreck lol! x

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  6. my youngest two are really close in age too (14 months apart) and I remember feeling so overwhelmed when my partner went back to work. I too stuck to a similar routine my daughter was used to and I soon got used to juggling two children. It sounds like your doing a much better job then I was xx

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  7. Aww, this brings back memories of mine being little. You are doing a great job :)

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  8. Awww congratulations, it completely changes when you have a child and a baby. However I found I got much more done once I was in a routine with my twins, as I didn't lay in and knew I only had x amount of time!!

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  9. I remember this feeling well but you soon get into a routine and it becomes second nature

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  10. Yes you can! Took care of my baby twins alone most of time.

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  11. Subsequent babies just have to fit in! It's what happened to me and my three. Chris didn't actually take much time off when Zach was first born as we wanted the money but he did work from home a bit. I think I was on my own with 3 kids, doing the school run etc the day after Zach was born.

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  12. Sounds like you managed it really well, nothing to be worried about! You are amazing :)

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  13. I can remember these days. Sometimes its about going with the flow, especially with a toddler and baby. I can always remember tea time being difficult, trying to cook and serve whilst juggling a baby and a clingy toddler plus a tween who was starving!

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  14. Oh gosh, this was a great read, although slightly daunting because I'd really like to have a second baby and I'm lowkey dreading the days when my OH goes back to work...but I suppose I have a while to figure that out as I'm not even pregnant. Sounds like you handled everything perfectly! Those pictures are absolutely gorgeous, good job mama! #TwinklyTuesday

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