Life with a baby and toddler – A personal update

Vrinda Kumar, M.D.

Vrinda Kumar, M.D

Some of you may remember that I posted a blog entry when I was six months pregnant with my second child. I had expressed my anxieties and excitement about having another baby when my older daughter was three years old. Well, now the baby is seven months old, and it’s hard to believe that a year has flown by! I promised to post an update on life with two kids, so here it is.

Well, let me say the transition was hard, but easier than anticipated. My three year old immediately took to “her baby” and wanted to snuggle and kiss her IMMEDIATELY. When we brought the baby home from the hospital, we gave our toddler a “gift from baby sister.” That way, she didn’t feel left out when the baby was receiving gifts. It is natural to be so busy with the baby (especially for me, since I am breastfeeding), so it really does take a solid, conscious effort to make sure we are giving our older daughter the attention she needs. I try to make sure I set aside time when she and I can do things together, just the two of us. My husband does the same. We also allow our toddler to help us take care of the baby. She wants to help and allowing her to do so makes her feel included.

I do sometimes feel because we are sleep deprived and still in “baby mode,” our fatigues and frustrations sometimes become directed towards our often stubborn three year old during her whiny moments or momentous meltdowns. During these times, I’ve realized I have to stop and take a deep breath so I don’t get short and snappy with her (when you are tired and busy, it’s easy to get that way!) I have to realize that much of her behavior is NORMAL for a three year old, especially for one that is trying to get her parents’ attention when they are focused on a new baby. When she is “misbehaving” or having a tantrum, I either ignore her and walk away from her (as long as she is safe!) because I do not want to perpetuate that kind of behavior by giving it attention, and  I have to remember to be sweet in my words because she is not actually doing anything deserving of punishment but rather just trying to play and interact with her mommy.

The baby LOVES her older sister, and follows her with her gaze everywhere she goes. We let them be physically affectionate as much as possible because it’s good for both of them. Sometimes, we have to remind our daughter than her baby sister is a baby and she needs to be GENTLE (i.e., “don’t pinch her cheeks and squeeze her too hard”) but if that’s our biggest concern, I think we have it pretty good. I’m just enjoying this time before they start bickering with each other!

Little girl is comforting her baby brother. Black and white photo with soft focus on their feet.

The logistics of having a baby and toddler is hard if it’s just one person at home (and that one person is also breastfeeding) but it has been manageable. It’s important to remember that if one child needs something urgently, it’s okay to let the other one cry a little (again, as long as they are in a safe place). Crying never hurt anyone. But when there are two of us at home, it’s basically one on one defense, especially during dinner and bed time.

One thing that I have found to be much harder after having a second baby is finding time to spend with my husband. We rarely spend any quality time during the week (we are both working and tired), but we do make an effort to go on a date night one to two times a month. Sometimes I think we are so focused on being such a great parent, that we sometimes neglect being a great partner to our spouses…marriage and parenthood is hard work! But it’s also the most rewarding and joyous gift in life! Even though life with two small kids is busy and tiring, one thing I think we should all remember is sometimes we have to stop, take a deep breath, look around, and really appreciate the joys in our life…including our beautiful, amazing children.

 

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