There is no denying that the first few months after having a baby are tough, but when you’ve already got another child (or two!) to look after. Forget about sleeping when the baby does, it’s a whole different ball game! We welcomed our third son a little over four months ago and we also have a three and four-year-old. Prior to our baby’s arrival I spent some time thinking about just how I was going to juggle the newborn phase. Looking after all three boys, as well as myself, seemed daunting. How would I tackle coping with a newborn and the boys both physically and mentally? Especially important with my history of postnatal depression and anxiety. But perhaps most importantly, how was I going to enjoy these special early days? Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.
Accept ALL of the help
This was definitely easier said than done, however it was vital to get me through those tough first few months. I was so tempted to throw myself back into regular household life after having our third baby boy, but I kept reminding myself that I’d just given birth and now had THREE children to look after. It was okay to take it easy and let others take over. If a friend or family member asked me if there was anything they could do, I’d rattle off a list of things (throwing some washing into the machine, unstack the dishwasher or even taking the older two boys down to the park for a play). All of these things were easy for people to do but made my life so much easier. It also gave me the time to sit back and get to know my precious new baby.
Plan to leave the house 20 minutes before I actually need to
Who would have thought leaving the house with one extra little person could take so much longer? Along with getting all three kids into the car (which can be a 20 minute job in itself), I then find myself running back inside for ALL of the things I’ve forgotten: drink bottles, spare clothes, baby bag and ALWAYS my car keys! By aiming to leave the house 20 minutes before we actually need to, I find that I’m pretty close to being on time. It eliminate the stress of running late to appointments or kindy drop off.
Take some time out
Now this is another thing which can be so hard to do. However even if I just get 10 minutes to have a shower ALL ALONE and wash my hair in peace, it makes me feel so much better. Most days I try to sneak out of the house for just 10 – 15 minutes when my husband gets home from work to go for a little walk around the block. Although I don’t have time to go far (and some nights I will wear the baby in the carrier), it’s still an escape from the house and a chance to have a little peace and quiet. It gives me an energy boost that I need to solider on into the night.
Organise what I can the night before
This has been essential to helping me stay sane in the morning, especially when we are going out for the day. The night before I will get out clothes for all of us – including me – make lunches and snacks, take something out of the freezer for dinner the next night and, if it’s a super early start, I’ll even have my shower the night before. I basically do all the things I know just are not going to happen in the morning when I’m trying to get all three of my boys ready for the day.
Be in the moment
When I’ve got so much to do it can so easy for my mind to start skipping ahead to what I need to be doing next. Whenever I find myself starting to list the things I should be doing, particularly when I’m feeding the baby or playing with the boys, I pull myself up. I force myself to remember what my priorities are and be in the moment – this moment and no other. The washing and cleaning up can wait.
Keeping my two active older boys amused is essential when it comes to ensuring a happy day for all of us. Thankfully they both love to play outside. While they are using up all of their excess energy, I get a real boost from being outside too, even if it’s just being out there to supervise them! So I make an effort to spend a good chunk of time outside each day. We often eat our snacks or lunch outside, or I get involved in a game of soccer with the older boys or calm the baby down by walking him around the garden. It doesn’t sound like much, but it really seems to help make me feel better and the days that little bit easier.
This is such a hard thing for us mums to do, however I made a conscious decision to say no more often in the lead up to our baby being born. Since I’ve started saying no more often over these past few months, it has had such a positive impact on our lives. I’ve been saying no to extra commitments with work and family, as well as declining invitations when the boys and myself just need a few hours or a day to recharge at home. Yes it’s been tough, especially because I’m a real people pleaser, but it’s also been refreshing. It’s helped me feel a little bit more in control and given us all some breathing space from the ‘busy’ of our lives.
I’ve always been a fan of baby wearing when we were out and about with our older boys, but since our youngest son came along, I’ve also started popping him in a carrier while we are at home. Not only does it keep him content (not to mention out of danger from his older brothers), but it also allows me to help the others boys get dressed, clean teeth, etc. It gives me the freedom to make meals, do the laundry and even sometimes sit down outside with a book while the older boys play!
Accept that there are going to be bad days
It was the second week of being home alone with all three boys that I experienced my first truly bad day. You know those days where NOTHING goes right. From burning the kids toast at breakfast time to the baby’s nappy leaking poo all over me, to my toddler having an accident because he wouldn’t stop to go to the toilet as that would take him away from arguing with his brother… Yep those kind of days. While I can do everything possible to make life as simple as possible, I also acknowledge that there are many things that are outside of my control. Thankfully these really bad days have become fewer and fewer once I’ve found my groove, but I accept that they are bound to happen and I’m not ‘failing’ when they do occur.
I’d love to know what works/worked for you?