Having children close in age sounds great in theory, but wrangling both a toddler and a newborn can be really challenging. Both children have intense needs, and both require your attention … right now!
Here are our top sanity savers that can become an anchor when you’re awash in a sea of nappies, sleep deprivation and tantrums.
Seriously. Pop that newborn into a carrier and go about your day. You can wear your baby while you play with your toddler, while you run errands and even while you hang out the washing. Babywearing allows your newbie to sleep on the go and if you get really clever, you can even feed on the go, too. It’s like the ultimate multitasking tool. Another benefit to babywearing is that your baby will be out of direct reach from your toddler who may love to stroke, prod and poke the baby. Winning!
2. Volunteer toddler wranglers
Have you got family members who keep offering their babysitting services? Take them up on their offers! Sometimes a bit of a break from your toddler can be all you need to feel a little refreshed and ready to wrangle again. You could even organise a swap with another mum to have some regular toddler-free time, with the added bonus of a playmate for your toddler, too.
3. Fenced parks
These places are the ultimate. Find one nearby, bring a picnic blanket for you and baby to lie on, bring snacks for your toddler (and coffee for you!) and let them go for it. A few hours can be happily spent if you go before it gets too hot. They’re awesome because the toddler can play safely and explore and you won’t need to stress about them running onto main roads or getting lost. And then, if you time the expedition right, you can head home for nap time. Ahhhh.
4. Hot chips
You know that hot chips totally count as a legit meal option, right? Well, they do! They are made from a vegetable, after all. Hot chips make a great, cheap lunch and they can even pass off as an awesome dinner come Friday night. Toddlers love eating them slathered in tomato sauce, so take a load off and swing past the takeaway shop. You’re allowed to.
5. Washable markers and stickers
These things are lifesavers, honestly. Buy a few packets, keep some in the car, some at home and some in your handbag. Any marks on any surface – including the body (yes, seriously!) come off with a baby wipe. They will buy you time when you’re waiting at appointments or even when you just want to get the baby down and you’re out of other distraction ideas for your toddler.
6. Drive-through coffee shops
Where would sleep-deprived mothers be without the good old drive-through coffee shop? You don’t even need to get out of your pyjamas or change that spit-up covered top … you can just cruise right through and get refuelled without having to actually be presentable or go out in public.
At the end of the day, the years do really fly by. And although the sibling combo of toddler and newborn can be really hard and exhausting – it does get easier. But it doesn’t hurt to keep expectations low and keep the self-love coming, because motherhood can feel pretty thankless. These little lifelines can really help pull you through the harder days, and encourage you to keep going.