Surviving and thriving the baby and toddler combo 6 times over!
Since the Lord has chosen to bless us with a baby every other year, the baby and toddler combo is basically what I have had to deal from the year 2000 when our second child was born until our youngest was born in 2009.
Many times, as a parent of ONE child, we worry about adding another child to the family. How are we ever going to cope??And many times people will offer helpful advice such as “get a maid” and/or “send the toddler to childcare/pre-school”.
Sometimes, such advice is appropriate – depending on the person’s circumstance – but other times, it may create more stress and give relief.
If you would like to survive and thrive at this stage of motherhood, let me share with you some tips and tricks that allowed me to not go the maid or childcare route.
1. Part-time helpers
If you have been reading my blogs, you will know that while we have not had a live-in helper, we have had part-time helpers on and off. They can be such life savers, especially when the children are very young.
We had a few come in when we had 3 children, aged 5 and below. The helper came in once a week and did the major housekeeping stuff like vacuuming and mopping, washing of toilets, ironing, etc.
It was so helpful! Living in a small 2-bedroom apartment was helpful too! During those early years, I just did the daily washing up and picking up.
When baby #4 came along, we had to go without a part-time helper. This was not by choice as she decided to disappear on me a few days before I was due! I couldn’t find a replacement I liked after her though and decided to just at it alone. By this time though, I was more experienced in handling the baby and toddler combo, unlike the first two times.
2. Consider ordering tingkat delivery for a season*
We also had tingkat delivery for a season so that I did not have to worry about meals especially the first two months after baby is born. All I had to do was heat up the food and eat! 🙂
3. Cook simple meals
After that, I stuck to cooking really simple meals. (I still cook simple meals – One dish meals and quick stir fries.) In a worse case scenario, I would ask Henson to buy back food if he was able to come home early. Otherwise, it was MacDonald’s delivery to the rescue!
4. Empower the toddler
Yes, empower the toddler. I encouraged the toddler to be independent.
Eat, dress, sleep by himself.
Do this before the baby’s arrival. And especially important, teach him to play independently.
All these are important because there will be times you will not be able to tend to him. If he can eat by himself then you can nurse the baby while he eats. Of course you can nurse and feed the toddler – boy do I know it can be done! But seriously this gets tiring after a while. And trust me, you don’t want it to become a habit.
And for those times when you need to put baby to sleep, you don’t want your toddler bawling away or screaming that he needs you to play lego with him. But, if he is used to playing independently, then you can leave him be and put the baby to bed.
5. Teach baby and toddler to sleep on their own
This to me has been the greatest lifesaver : the toddler sleeping on his own when it was nap and bedtime.
When it is nap/sleep time, I just needed to say, “Time to sleep” and off he would go and sleep. Sure, he would protest at times but generally he would obey since he has been taught to obey. Same with the baby. I did not have to spend hours carrying/patting or nursing the baby to sleep.
If you can’t teach the baby to sleep on her own, then at least work on getting the toddler to go to bed on his own.
If all else fails, then try to time their naps together. This way, at least you get to nap too!
* Do note that I am however nursing #7 to sleep still! 🙁
6. Teach the toddler to wait
Tell him that not everything will be done just because he wants them to be done now. He needs to learn to wait and if he does not want to wait then he has to learn to do it himself.
7. Talk to your toddler
He understands more than you think. Unless your toddler and baby combo is 12 or 15 months apart – like our pseudo twins – the older one should be able to comprehend many things. Whether he accepts it or not is a different matter 🙂
Talk to him, explain that the baby needs more help than he does so he has to be more patient and more loving. Again, prepping him before the baby comes is better.
8. Adjust your attitude
I can’t say this often enough.
If you have a can-do attitude, then many things can be done. But if you have already given up in your mind, then everything will be bleak and un-doable.
Decide if you want this to work or not. If you do, then do what needs to be done to make it work. But if you feel that it is going to be too difficult for you and it may push you towards postpartum depression, then get help! But get help before the baby comes so that everyone can adjust before that.
Manage your expectations
The early days are tough. Let no one fool you about that!
No matter what the age gap, it is always an adjustment when you add a member to the family. But when you see them playing and smiling with each other, you will know that your struggles are worth it!
Have you handled a baby and toddler combo? How was it? Have I left out anything in this list?
*Tingkat Delivery is a catering service where the service provider delivers your meals daily, usually around dinner time, Mondays to Fridays. You can choose from 3 dishes + 1 soup or 4 dishes. You will have to cook your own rice. The meals are often Asian style rather than Western style.
***Originally published on 5th January 2012. Updated July 2017***