Finding some balance
Something I have been thinking about a lot over the last couple of weeks has been the similarities and differences between my experience as a new mum the first time, and this time.
My new little boy is five weeks old today. He has settled into a kind of routine. I think this is partially due to his super chilled out nature, partially due to hormones still raging in his system, and partially because he has just had to adjust to everyone else in the house.
My daughter, when she was born, was all over the place until she was at least four months old. I imagine part of that is due to her personality, and her individuality as a person. However, the other thing that is a major factor, is that when she was born, she was the only person I had to worry about. We could stay in bed until midday, or all day if it took our fancy. I could mooch around at home doing nothing, and the only person who would comment on it would be my husband. I can't tell you how many times I got the "what did you do all day?" comment. And if I'm honest, the answer would probably more often than not, be "nothing".
My new son has been into a fully functioning family, complete with soccer (training and games), swimming lessons, ballet, play group, day care as well as all the household chores that cant be put off till another day when you have a four year old. If you're tired, or grizzly, you'll just have to suck it up because we have commitments.
I, as an older sibling, am finally getting a little bit of an insight into what my second sibling friends are saying about how they felt as children. It would be easy to misconstrue this time as your parents caring more about your older sister or brother, than they do about you.
I am also starting to realise that I will need to be very careful to negotiate our time and commitment between the two children to make sure they both feel equally loved and supported in their pursuits. I am also starting to realise that part of what I felt myself all those years ago when my baby sister arrived, was born out of necessity. My poor parents needed to satisfy her basic needs as a newborn, and sometimes that means the three (myself) or four (my daughter) year old just has to wait. That's a hard lesson to learn, and can be wrongly interpreted by a young mind to mean that mum and dad love the baby more.
Finding a balance between the needs of the two children is really important, and what's equally important, is to make sure that your own needs are met. Having time for yourself, be it just to have a shower, brush your hair, or have a quiet cup of tea, is vital for your health and wellbeing, both physical and mental.
Here are four tips to help you to meet everyone's needs:
1.Involve the children in each other's activities - Take the little one to the big one's activities. Having them cuddled up in the NuRoo pocket carrier keeps them snug and secure and feeling safe, leaving your hands free to tie shoe laces, and cheer on the soccer team. Ask the big one to be involved in looking after the little one. Set up a station just for the big sibling with a nappy kitwith a couple of nappies, cream and some wipes, a bath kit with a toy and some baby wash (my favourite is Gaia) and a feeding kit, with some colouring in or a favourite book to read, so they can help. This allows you then to be involved when your focus is on the new baby, but also means they start to form a relationship with the baby.
2.Plan your day - Keep a diary of what is on for all members of the family, including sports, parties, lessons, doctors appointments etc. Take twenty minutes before you go to bed to plan your day. I find it useful to write it down in a family organiser but you can also just use your smartphone if you have one. If you know what you have to get done the next day, you'll spend more time being with your family, and less time worrying about missing something important, and backtracking.
3.Be flexible - Yes, there are some things that you cannot miss out on. You will have them listed in your family organiser, but there are some things that can be left out of your day if you need to spend a bit more time cuddling little one, or a bit more time at the library reading to big one. Be flexible and forgive yourself when you don't get EVERYTHING on your list done.
4.Take care of your physical self - If you don't take care of yourself, you wont be able to be take care of the little ones. After having your baby, help to support your body as it returns to it's old self by using Belly bandit postpartum wrap. It will not only help with the reduction of swelling and support post birth, but also acts a great support for your back, and shoulders when breastfeeding. Try to eat healthily, and drink a lot of water. And after consulting with your doctor, start to do some light exercise. It will not only help with the post baby weight loss, getting outside will clear your mind and help you to stay positive.
Take care of your little ones, take care of yourself, and enjoy your new family dynamic