‘You’ll have your hands full!’, laughed my mother in law. We’d just told her that I was pregnant again and the baby was due on Presley’s first birthday. Laughter and incredulity were common reactions to our pregnancy announcement.
What did the other parents know that we didn’t? Why did most families leave a gap of two to three years between babies? I guess we hadn’t thought it through.
Presley was such a ‘good’ baby that we thought having another would be a doddle. Also, I was in my late thirties and we didn’t know how long it would take for me to get pregnant (erm, one month)!
I thought, mistakenly, that one year olds walked and talked fluently. When Cash arrived, three days before Presley’s birthday, we found ourselves with two babies to look after. Two babies with different needs, in different routines, both demanding attention. I was rushed off my feet and constantly tired.
With the wonderful gift of hindsight I suppose it would have been easier if Presley was potty trained, communicating well, eating at the table, walking along the road safely, before Cash arrived.
I found it difficult to take them to baby classes (these are mostly age specific) and impossible to take them swimming alone. Our local Surestart Children’s Centre doesn’t allow pushchairs, so I struggled to get them both inside. I would describe my role as that of baby juggler!
There are some positives though. Cash wears Presley’s hand-me-down clothes. They are the right season too. Also having two so close together means they will play together. I still live in hope of them playing happily together. At the moment Presley builds a tower and Cash knocks it over. They have quite mastered the concept of sharing. Presley thinks all the toys are his and Cash wants to play with whatever Presley is playing with.
On the face of it the cons of having a one year age gap outweigh the pros, but I have two adorable sons and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Advice, hints and tips:
- Do as much as you can before the new baby arrives. You won’t have time to blow your nose, let alone decorate the downstairs loo once he/she arrives!
- Encourage your partner to establish a bedtime routine for the older child that is continued after the new baby arrives.
- Shop online.
- Stock up on loo roll, washing powder, nappies and wipes.
- Cook and freeze meals for all the family in advance of the new baby’s arrival.
- Have a few ready-meals/jars and the pizza delivery menu handy.
- Routine is important so you know what happens next.
- Be flexible. This may sound contradictory but everything you try to do will take that little bit longer!
- If both babies are crying deal with the older child first as their issue can usually be resolved quicker.
- Accept all offers of help. Family and friends can either take the older child out, or hold the baby while you spend time with the older sibling. Better still they can do the housework while you relax with your babies.
- Keep your changing bag packed at all times so that it’s one less thing to worry about when you’re trying to leave the house.
- Put the baby down in a carry cot on table out of the way of grabbing hands.
- Rotate toys so your older child has regular ‘new’ toys to keep them occupied.
- Try to get both babies to sleep at the same time so you can rest (do NOT do the housework)!
First published on Parentdish UK