Now that I'm almost 2 years into this being a mom of 2 gig, I thought I'd put together a list of the tips and tricks that helped me survive the chaos. I'm also starting to get baby fever like crazy so maybe I can put these tips to good use if we decided to go for a third kiddo!
1. Babywearing - I loved using my Ergobaby 360 with my first (especially when traveling) but when I had my second it became one of my most prized possessions. My kids are a little over 2 years apart, so chasing after a toddler in Chicago with a newborn would have been impossible without wearing the baby. My first was pretty big at birth (9lbs 1 oz...ouch!) so I was able to use the Ergobaby 360 without the insert pretty quickly but my second was smaller (a petite 7lbs 12oz lol) so I used the Moby Wrap for the first month until she was big enough for the Ergo! I'll be honest, I did not love the Moby (it was too long and cumbersome to use) but I was too cheap to buy another. If we go for a third, I think I'll get the Baby K'Tan Simple Wrap. I still throw the Ergobaby in the bottom of my stroller for times when Payton gets antsy on long walks.
(perfect for walking to our fave neighborhood restaurant)
2. Gift for the Big Brother/Sister - I had heard from multiple people to have a gift from the baby for the older sibling. We bought Magnatiles for Gavin as his gift from Payton and he loved having something to open after he met his new sister! Had our hospital not had a visitor ban due to the flu we would have given this to him at the hospital but he had to wait until we came home to meet his sister and get his gift!
3. Double Stroller - We had the Uppababy Vista for our first and purchased the rumble seat and piggyback board to give him options when his sister arrived. It's a little pricey with all of the adapters and accessories but we've used it almost daily for 4 years (in the city your stroller is basically your car) and it has held up amazingly well!
(added bonus-it's a major workout pushing 75 pounds of toddler/stroller)
4. Books about Becoming a Big Brother/Sister - We started reading books to Gavin about becoming a big brother about halfway through my pregnancy. We had 3 or 4 that we rotated to get him excited about welcoming a new baby into our lives. He really loved Waiting for Baby and still will on occasion flip through it. It's great for younger kids and has good things to talk about with your little one before the baby arrives. We also had Big Brother Daniel Tiger and it was a big hit with Gavin!
5. Dual Monitor - I foolishly bought a monitor that could not add additional cameras so we had to replace it with a multicamera monitor. We went with the Infant Optics DXR-8 Monitor and it has been amazing. It has settings to scan between the cameras (you can have up to 4), sound, 2-way talk, and the room temperature displayed. You also can have the screen off and still hear the rooms if the monitor is on which is great when you are trying to sleep without a blue light in your face.
6. Make the Baby Wait - In my prep for the baby, I had read that you should sometimes make the baby wait when you are doing something with your older child so the older child doesn't resent the baby. I was constantly telling Gavin to wait because the baby needed X,Y, and Z so I started saying to Payton "Hold on Payton, mommy is getting Gavin's food right now", etc. and I really think it helped his attitude towards his sister. I obviously wouldn't ignore her screams, but letting her fuss for a minute or two while I kept my focus on Gavin helped make him aware that they were equals. They have an amazing bond and we've been (knock on wood) so lucky that there isn't much jealousy or rivalry yet.
7. Separate Bedtimes - One of my fears when I was pregnant with Payton, was how I was going to tackle bedtime with two. My husband was often working at bedtime so I was solo and terrified of putting both down at the same time. Once Payton was on a schedule, I kept her bedtime at least 15 minutes before Gavin's. I gave him the IPAD (yes, we are one of those families but #survival) and put her down and then came back downstairs for some one-on-one quality time before his bedtime. He will occasionally come "help" me put Payton to bed but she loves it so it hasn't messed up our routine luckily!
8. Crossover Naptimes - I used to work with a mom when I only had Gavin and she had 3 little ones under 4 and she always seemed to have time to work and get things done because all 3 napped at the same time each day. She said she made sure to get them all on the same schedule as soon as she could and I took this advice to heart and have always had at least an hour each day that both kids are napping. Gavin is now starting to outgrow naps, but he still goes to his room for an hour of quiet play. Having this hour is a sanity saver!
9. Mommy's Helper - I made sure to include Gavin in anything I could with Payton from the beginning. I would ask him to go get me a diaper or go "check on her" in her swing or go find her pacifier from the very beginning so he felt like a big kid. It helped keep our bond strong and he enjoyed the "responsibility". He still loves being able to teach her things and helps her put her shoes on and gets her snacks.
10. Special Dates - Once Payton was a few months old, I hired a babysitter to come over for a few hours each week so Gavin and I could have one-on-one time. We went to swim class, the park, the ice cream shop, or even just Target (he loves it more than I do!) and he loved having the focused attention. As they get older, my husband and I both try to get one-on-one time with each child as often as we can!
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