And then there were 2: How to survive with a toddler and newborn
As the royal couple Kate and Wills welcome a daughter to the family, they also embark on life with a toddler and newborn. We get some top tips on how to cope when suddenly there's two!
Dr Kerry Taylor, Clinical Director of Bright PIP and Parent Infant Clinical Psychologist gives us her 7 top tips to stay happy and sane with a newborn and toddler in tow.
1. Expect your world to be turned upside down all over again
At the same time, don't expect too much of yourself. Most second time parents say their experience is 'just as hard the second time round but in a different way'. It may feel like you will never manage the washing, cleaning, and cooking and keeping more than one child happy at once may seem impossible. This is entirely normal and will get better, so don't be too hard on yourself!
2. Accept your limits and ask for help
You may spend much more time at home than you're used to, routines may go out of the window, you have not had a shower and all standards on everything have hit a new low. This again is normal. If you can go with this and let it all hang out, well done. Sleep as much as possible. This may mean ignoring the cleaning, and other tasks that would normally never go undone.
If you find that the letting everything slide approach is troubling you, then ask for help. Whenever you need it, ask for help, whenever you can and repeatedly. You might need practical help or need someone to listen to how you are feeling. You are doing the most important (and possibly the most challenging) job in the world being there for your children, you deserve every bit of help available.
3. There will be real joy and happiness to come
Hold onto this in the weary times. Start out with a hint of the treasures of sibling hood by getting each of them to 'give' a present to the other on the day new baby arrives. This can be something you know will be cherished by your toddler and later when baby is older they can learn who gave them that special toy and how it was chosen especially for them by big sibling too.
That aside, let them grow to love each other all by themselves without forcing the issue. As long as you role model and teach respect and care, they will have a life-long special bond despite the turmoil of adjusting and the ups and downs of sibling hood.
4. Help the bond between your new baby and toddler
If possible, try not to react strongly if your first born is a little rough with the baby. Gently help him or her to understand how s/he should be around the baby. If you can, let your first born hold the baby on their own (with all appropriate safety measures in place). This will help the bonding process. As much as you can, keep your older one involved in everything to do with the new baby.
In all of this, emphasise the positive. So, recognise your toddler's attempts to 'help' with praise and encouragement. Point out when baby is watching toddler and interested in him/her and focus on all the positives between them.
5. Spend every day quality time with your older child
If possible when things have settled, set aside at least half an hour each day to spend just with your older child. If you can, spend the occasional special day just you and your older child. It is hard to manage but try to be as patient as you can in understanding any jealous behaviour. Try to work out what s/he is communicating with the behaviour. A sibling's birth can bring up very big and overwhelming feelings such as rage and fear. Toddlers need help to deal with big feelings at the best of times and so they need special consideration. A toddler can fear that you do not love them anymore and they have been replaced. Help them know they are still special and loved.
6. It is not selfish to look after yourself
Taking a bit of time for yourself can be the opposite of selfish. This will help you to become less overwhelmed. If you feel overwhelmed, be kind to yourself. You have needs too. Find ways to give yourself a break and don't feel guilty! This could mean using childcare services, booking weekly time off using friends or family or saying 'no' to work or requests from others for now. You will all benefit.
7. Bonding with new baby
Part of giving yourself a break might mean giving yourself calm one-to-one time with your new baby. Now that you have done this before you know you can relax and trust your instincts without expecting yourself to be perfect. Give yourself permission to enjoy this.