“Life in the early days with two” … This was probably my most searched Google / Mumsnet term in my last few months of being pregnant with Evie.
I was really worried about how Amelie would adjust to having her sister home, we prepared her for it as much as we could (blog post about that here) but the reality of having another little person wanting and needing our full on attention was always going to be different. I also couldn’t understand how I would ever get anything done, leave the house, cook Amelie’s dinner, get them both in the bath… I was a sponge looking for other Mum’s advice on what they’d done. So, in the spirit of sharing here are my top tips.
The coming home for us was made slightly more complicated as I was having a c section with Evie, so we knew that I would need more help in the early days. I made sure that before Evie came along Amelie could confidently climb the stairs, get in and out of her high chair (we bought a Stoke Tripp Trapp so she could climb up and down) and although she was still in a cot I worked out a way to help her get in by climbing with me helping! It was hard not being able to lift Amelie though, you don’t really think about all the times you lift them up on a daily basis and it was quite a shock to suddenly not be able to do it.
Getting out of the house
I tried not to put too much pressure on myself to go out straight away early on, especially when I didn’t have family around to help. We made use of the garden, if it was raining we’d make an indoor toddler obstacle course – think boxes, cushions, stacking cups as cones and practising their football skills (with a soft ball)! When I had help from family they took Amelie to the park or to pre school.
The main feeling I had when I came home with Evie and in the early days was guilt. Guilt that I couldn’t give Amelie my undivided attention, guilt that I would leave Evie crying if Amelie needed something and guilt that I just couldn’t split myself between them. I soon learnt, with a few pep talks from my Mum that this is totally normal and neither of them are going to suffer long term damage if I didn’t get to them straight away. Once the hormones had died down I found this a little easier to cope with, although don’t get me wrong I feel some kind of guilt most days!
A sling and double buggy are life savers
I didn’t use a sling for Amelie but this time around it has been a life saver. Evie slept in it, I got Amelie in the bath, made her dinner, changed her nappy all with Evie in the sling. I wouldn’t recommend the latter but it was an emergency!
I have found my double buggy very useful for having two close in age. Amelie loves to walk but at times it helps to either keep her safe, for those times she gets too tired or you just need to get from A to B quickly.
Amelie was quite a slow feeder so I was prepared for Evie being the same. I made sure that I had lots of activities on hand for the times I would be feeding Evie. I made a box of things which I had next to me on the sofa for Amelie to sit down next to me and play with. I had lots of little books, a sticker book / stickers, puzzles, a few crayons and snacks!
I never thought Peppa Pig would be something I would write about, but thank goodness for that little pink pig and her friends! It has saved me on numerous occasions when Amelie was climbing the walls and I was feeding Evie.
As Amelie goes to preschool four mornings a week I feel less guilty if she watches TV while I sort Evie out as I know she’s been learning in the morning.
Involving your first
Amelie loves to help so she brings me nappies, chooses Evie’s babygro, checks Evie is ok in the car for me. There is lots of ‘Amelie what is Evie doing’? ‘mummy eyes shut’, ‘oh well done Amelie you’ve got her to sleep’ – anything to make her feel involved. You could ask your older child if they wanted to give the baby a nickname to make them feel like they’ve had a part in naming them (within reason), Amelie loves to call Evie ‘Eve’s so that’s her baby nickname sorted. There are lots of good ideas for baby nicknames around, it could be a nice idea.
What I wish I had been told…
Amelie and I have a really close bond, she is definitely a Mummy’s girl and as I finished work two months before Evie came along we had a lot of Amelie and Mummy time.
My parents looked after Amelie whilst I was in hospital and lived with us for a few weeks after Evie was born.
I had read that toddlers can be aggressive towards the baby, go off their food and generally be quite difficult so I was prepared for this but her reaction towards me within a few days caught me off guard.
I found that she went to my Mum for everything, for nappy changes, to get her something, to ask for a drink and the hardest part for me was that she didn’t want me to give her her bedtime bottle and have cuddles before sleep. This was and still is our time together. I breastfed her for 15 months and this was always the last thing we did before bed so I think that’s why it is such a special time for us. I found the rejection from her really hard to deal with and thought we had lost our bond almost overnight.
Talking to friends who had two they mentioned they had the same with their eldest so although I thought I had been prepared you can’t always prepare for everything.
It seemed to get better around 5 weeks, but in that time I made a real effort to make sure I spent time with Amelie doing her favourite things when Evie was asleep and now we are back to her only wanting me for everything!
I did find the early days hard but with preparation and help from family it makes things a lot easier. The good days and touching moments between the two of them makes the difficult moments seem less challenging and I love that as they’ll be close in age they’ll have a wonderful friend as they grow up.
How did you find the early days with two? What made it easier for you?