Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Expert Advice

Williamsburg, 2014

I decided to ask some mothers of two under two for some advice on what's to come, and thought I'd compile some of their best tidbits here.

1) Don't feel guilty giving more attention to the older one as long as the baby is clean and fed.

2) Have a list of at least five go-to people for childcare when you are in labor. I could not get a hold of our first few choices when the time came.

3) The first few months, the little one is usually just carted around to the big one's events, so in a way it's business as usual for the big boy. But you should expect jealousy when the little one starts to be more of a person (sitting up, crawling, walking, talking, etc.)

4) Make sure both you and your partner both spend alone time (it can literally be 10 minutes doing the recycling, or some random special big boy thing) with your older son.

5) It's a beautiful thing to see your boys love each other, even if they bond over smashing drinking glasses or painting the walls with yogurt.

6) The best way to stave off jealousy is to keep the toddler's routine consistent as much as possible.  My daughter's dad does her bath almost every night now; I wish that we had started that before my son arrived.

7) I loved the book Siblings Without Rivalry.  It reminded me to call my younger son by his name instead of calling him "the baby."

8) You're in for a wild ride, but a good one.

9) The older child will love to help; it makes them feel so important. If the baby needs a bath, ask the toddler to help get the toys ready or get a towel for afterwards.

10 ) Get a cleaning lady once a week, even if it's a stretch financially.

11) Instead of saying "No" or "Be a big boy" all the time, say things like: "You are such a loving brother" or  "Thank you so much for being so gentle and kind to your brother."

The part about calling the baby by his name rather than "baby" made a lot of sense to me, because it kind of strips away the sense that the younger child is in a permanent special category. I hadn't thought of that, but I can see how that would be alienating if you were a small person with your own very big needs.

I also especially liked this blogger's take on things, like "Lower your expectations!" Noted. I also like that she calls her two young kids "the needlings." Ha.

After Axel was born, there were plenty of moments when I realized that I could no longer maintain some of the habits I had come to find enjoyable as a relatively unencumbered thirtysomething. I had to remind myself (and still do) that someday in the not so distant future I would be able to get back to throwing a dinner party with aplomb, or picking out especially thoughtful gifts, working out on a regular basis, or simply packing lots of varied things into a weekend day. Some days it's make the bed or make dinner, especially in the early days, and I'm sure that's doubly so with two children.

I am sure there will be more tips to come (and I will take all that I can get!)

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