Nothing is more difficult -- or more rewarding -- than parenting a newborn, except maybe raising a newborn and a toddler at the same time. As soon as you step in the door from the hospital with the new baby, chaos ensues. The newborn is dependent on you to meet every need, and the 1-year-old is just feeling needy. Don't panic. While the first few months will be a little crazy, soon you'll ease into a new routine.
Postpartum fog, sleep deprivation and two needy kids is a recipe for disaster if you aren't prepared. Get in the habit of taking care of essentials immediately. As soon as you open a bill statement, write the check and put it in the mail so you won't forget. Write down doctor's appointments, meetings and playdates in a planner. Set alarms on your phone for important appointments too. At least for the first month, it may be helpful to use a phone app to keep track of feedings and diaper changes for your newborn.
Ask for Help
It takes a village to raise a child, and it may take two villages to raise two under 2. Don't be too proud to ask for help. See if friends or family members would be willing to pitch in with chores or babysit from time to time so you can catch up on errands. Tell your partner exactly what you need to make parenting more manageable. Set aside money in your budget for a housekeeper or babysitter to lighten your load.
Toddlers love to help, so take advantage of your 1-year-old's goodwill. Ask him to bring you diapers and wipes for the baby or give him a brush to dust and sweep. Praise him loudly and often for being "mama's helper." That way he'll feel he's working with you and not vying for your attention. You may also consider encouraging other milestones in your toddler such as weaning or potty training several months after the baby arrives. Having to nurse and change only one child will lighten your load, but toddlers often regress when a new baby comes into the family, so don't push too hard.
Having two little ones close in age is physically and emotionally exhausting. Although the hours of bottles and diaper changes feel interminably slow, blink and your newborn will be a toddler. Blink again and your kids will be headed off to school together. Remind yourself, at every difficult moment, that your babies will only be babies for a short while. Wipe the spit-up off your sleeve, smile and enjoy them now while they are still little.
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