I received a wonderful message via facebook from a lovely reader last week and wanted to answer it in a blog post. And this lovely lady has just had her 3rd baby and has two other little ones at home. She’s wondering how to deal with the tiredness and the breastfeeding and entertaining the crew while you also look after a newborn. I can certainly answer this one because it’s the story of my life right now. Keeping lots of little people happy while a lot of my attention is focused on the littlest member of our family.
So let’s talk feeding the baby. So the first thing I do is make sure that the snacks are out. At the moment it’s rice crackers, tiny teddy bags, bananas, mini bags of rice cakes, and my homemade choc chip cookies that are working a treat. Then check the nappies of the other kids BEFORE we sit down to feed the baby. And my biggest trick is the toy tubs. We have a playroom but I do most of my breastfeeding in the loungeroom so I bring in a different toy tub each day. Be prepared for some mess but the kids think it’s like Christmas. When I’m really desperate I get a big quilt and tip out our big lego tub and let them go crazy. This is because most of the time we don’t tip out the whole tub so if I really am struggling then tipping out the toy tub is fabulous and keeps them happy. I’ve been a bit lucky having my big kids home as they are built in entertainment for the younger kids. Lots of white paper and crayons and pencils are also a big hit and a great activity. And in case you missed it on facebook I shared our new favourite of cheerios and cotton yarn and making necklaces. Fabulous fun.
Get some new dvds or record some of their favourite shows on the foxtel that you only play while feeding. At the moment it’s Frozen. Let it goooooooooooooooooooo………..If we’re inside and I’m feeding then frozen comes on, my littlest miss is learning a few of the songs which just kills me with cuteness and her little brother just loves watching it. The trick is keeping it only for times when you’re in the loungeroom and feeding so that it keeps them entertained and you all in the same room. I also find if you can get down on the floor and feed while sitting next to them or have them come up next to you on the couch. I put my littlest miss and my little guy emerson on either side of me and we might watch a movie or they are playing with a toy next to me and we’re close by. They need lots of attention and might be feeling a bit left out so being near you always makes things easier.
I also have my netball chair – well I call it that but it’s basically one of those big outdoor chairs that I kind of sink into (and would take to each netball game) and it’s set up on the back balcony where the kids play in front of me on the grass. A few times a day we head outside for playtime. I make a hot drink and a snack and we go outside. I’m sitting and feeding, they are getting fresh air, sunshine and playing and everyone is happy. If you really tire them out in the morning then you’re going to get them napping in the afternoon and you might get a few things done.
Now let’s talk tiredness. Each of my babies has been different and the newest member of our family is proving to be the biggest upchucker/most vomity of all of our babies. This means he likes to be upright and on my shoulder for most of the day. All of the other babies have been much better in the sleeping and napping during the day department than this little guy. And he’s not loving the hug a bub as he wants to move his head around everywhere so I think I’ve used it 3 times all up since we got home from hospital.
So it’s hard work at the moment. And probably the hardest thing about having a newborn is that you are surviving on a lot less sleep than you are used to. Patience will be tested and you dream of a few hours sleep in a row. That would be heaven right now. So what do I do? Well nothing tastes as good as my first coffee of the day. I tend to have the coffee while I feed the baby (safely because remember this isn’t my first so I’ve kind of mastered it) or just after a feed. I also eat throughout the day which isn’t helping the weight loss but does keep my energy levels up. I go and sit in the sun and get the kids outside as sunshine peps me up a little and it gets the kids outside. I also hang out for a hot shower each day even if it means dragging the bassinette outside the bathroom so I can have a nice hot shower. Other times daddy might hold the baby before work or before he goes to bed so I can jump in and I feel so much better after a shower. And in the first few weeks if baby is down at say 8.30pm then I ask hubby to watch him while I get an hour or two of sleep on the couch.
Now the other thing is the housework – how to find time for everything that needs to be done like laundry, meals, dishes, floors and so on. Now with my little guy at 8 weeks I’ve actually had some time to empty a few boxes and get lots of laundry out on the line (not put away in wardrobes promptly but washed and dried). So a few tips are get the bigger kids working if they can do simple jobs like sweep floors, dustpan and broom, rubbish to the outside bins, empty dishwasher, bring in laundry, take clothes up to their room etc. Prioritise what has to be done. Usually vacuuming the stairs and upstairs comes last but keeping a clean kitchen and sweeping floors is something we can do everyday. And when I looked for a photo of sweeping I came across this one – my twinnies 4 years ago! Wow, now they are 6 and such independent little people! But back to the housework. If you can get a cleaner in each fortnight for a month or two while you have a newborn then it’s money well spent. I haven’t this time around but we’re doing ok and my lovely hubby has been helping out and school holidays were a welcome break from the school run and activities.
Keep dinner simple. A few favourites to keep when you’ve had a crazy day and need to get something on the table are ravioli in the fridge, a tomato based sauce and a cup of grated cheese melted in. My kids think this is a real treat as I hardly buy ravioli! Keep pizza bases in the freezer and whip up quick pizzas. Fish fingers and wedges, a quick frittata with 6 eggs, cheese, ham and some vegies with some buttered bread is another one. And when all else fails no one has ever starved from having a toasted sandwich for dinner. I always have extra bread in the freezer and loads of ham and cheese in the fridge so it’s quick and easy and some fresh fruit and yoghurt for dessert and everyone is full. Get the kids baking some sweet treats too as it serves two purposes – keeps them busy with an activity and gives them a snack. Win win.
Last advice is just don’t feel pressured. Let phone calls go to the answering machine. Don’t worry too much about what is going on in the outside world or what you’re missing out on or that you’re always at home or the state of the house. Just keep it all simple and focus on feeding the baby, keeping on top of what needs to be done within your own little house and keeping everyone happy. If you’ve got some jealousy issues going on or someone is feeling left out a little one on one time with daddy or mummy at the shops, movies, park, going for an ice cream works a treat. Nothing fancy, even a simple book or small toy and time away from the baby makes any little person feel special. And remember that this time goes quickly and before you know it you’ll be chasing your little baby around as they slide and crawl around the floor and that it gets easier.
Any top tips you’d like to add for my lovely reader……………………………