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What Life is Really Like with a Toddler and a Newborn

Before I ever became a mother, I had a lot of dreams about what motherhood would look like for me. I’ll admit that a lot of the visions were firmly rooted in naive fantasy and that the reality has certainly looked a bit different. One thing that I always knew though, was that I wanted my kids to be closely spaced in age. As nice as it would be (for sanity and logistics) to have a larger age gap between my kids, I just keep reminding myself about how nice it will be that my kids will be close enough in age to enjoy similar activities and that hopefully they will grow up being the best of friends.

Currently, I have three kids age five and under, so I have experienced the toddler and newborn combination twice now (and lived to tell the tale) and have gained a few insights along the way. Here is a little “peek behind the curtain” to see what life is really like with a toddler and a newborn.

1. Someone always needs you. There will literally be a tiny (or tinier) person needing you at any given time of the day. Because toddler and newborn schedules don’t match up yet, odds are their sleep shifts won’t be in sync with one another for a while. Your toddler and newborn will also have widely varying needs, so you’ll have one that wants you to run around and play when the other wants you to sit down and snuggle. It’s definitely a balancing act.

2. Planning activities is exhausting. As mentioned above, your newborn and toddler don’t keep the same schedule, which means trying to plan a trip to the grocery store or a playdate with a friend will pretty much require every ounce of brain power you have (which, let’s be real, isn’t a whole lot thanks to sleep deprivation). You’ll quickly realize that the window of opportunity for escaping your house is incredibly minuscule. While 10 a.m. used to be a good time for getting out of the house, it’s now the time your newborn is napping — and by the time your newborn is awake, it’s time for the toddler to nap. It’s a tricky business. And when you do finally find that perfect time of day to leave, you’ll have to pack so many supplies that you may just opt to have those groceries delivered.

3. You should probably just buy stock in diapers and baby wipes. The one constant in your life will be all the behinds you will be wiping. There will be sooooo many diapers and even more wipes. Unless you magically potty trained your toddler before the newborn arrived, then you will be changing ALL the diapers. Get used to it for awhile, because it’s sort of going to feel like your new full-time job.

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4. The bonding is real. The bond between siblings is so precious. The way your toddler coos and ever so sweetly attempts to squish your newborn with love will absolutely melt your heart. And don’t even get me started on the adorableness that is a tiny baby beaming happily up at their older brother or sister. Sometimes it can take a bit for the older sibling to warm up to the new one, but once it happens, there really is nothing like it.

4. Life is a little insane, but it’s all you know. It’s kind of a given that life will be a little insane when your house has two super young children living in it, but the upside is that it’s all you know. For parents who wait longer between having kids and have a larger gap in ages, sometimes the transition back into life with a newborn can be a bit more difficult. They’ve already come out of the diaper changing, sleep deprivation stage of life and seen what life on the other side looks like. But you? Well, you’re just staying in the thick of it for awhile, so adding another baby to your brood when your oldest still feels very much like a baby in many ways, might feel like more of the same.

5. Restaurants get tricky. With two such young children, when you go to restaurants you’ll need both a high chair for the toddler as well as a sling to set your infant car seat on (or at least a clear space on the floor next to your table) and finding a spot where this set up works can sometimes make things a bit more challenging. The bonus though, is that your newborn will probably just sleep through the whole meal.

7. People will comment on your “full hands” all the time. When people see you carrying a baby and a toddler simultaneously, you will definitely be met with wide-eyed wonderment by passersby. You will also hear a whole lot of “Wow! You sure do have your hands full!” types of comments.

8. Your children will become more adaptable. In many cases, when children are spaced closely, they have the chance to be more adaptable. Because life is a bit crazy for awhile, they learn to roll with the punches and develop more patience and flexibility (at least as much as is possible for people so tiny and still learning) which is definitely positive.

9. The newborn will basically live in a baby carrier. Your heart will be so full with the new addition to your family, but the downside is that your hands will be pretty full too. The good news is that baby carriers exist and will become your very best friend. My son basically lived in the baby carrier (most naps and even sometimes nursing sessions happened there!), while I chased his toddler sister around and muddled my way through potty training. Look at it as a great bonding opportunity.

10. You will be ridiculously exhausted and ridiculously happy. I’m not gonna lie… having two super young children is exhausting. Someone is always waking you up in the night and someone almost always needs something. But despite being more tired than you believed to be humanly possible, you will be ridiculously happy. There are few things in life quite so sweet as seeing your toddler with their newborn baby brother or sister. Those precious moments are the ones you will bottle up and keep forever.

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