Hindsight is most certainly 20/20. Or better when it comes to kids and parenting decisions…
Sometimes, I wish I’d done a little less complaining and a little more research in the days before Little Hiccup’s birth. I wish I used the time to look for advice on how to make the transition easier for Little Man once LH arrived. There have been so many beautiful moments and realizations in the nearly four months since his birth. BUT there have been equally as many, if not more, moments of panic and frustration. Moments when I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the day in one piece and hoped that disappearing into my room to scream into a pillow for a moment would be enough.
Mostly it’s been trial by fire. It’s not that I didn’t think about what role LM would play. I thought about it a lot. I just focused on helping him to accept the baby. Too bad I didn’t realize that’s the easy part. At least it was for him. I’ve included him in LH’s care from day one by treating him like my little helper. And wow is he the best little helper in the world. He loves to help me and he loves his little brother. What I didn’t count on was how much he’d regress.
Before Little Hiccup, Little Man’s bedtime and naptime routines were a seamless dance in which, as long as we followed the correct steps, we had a well rested toddler. He slept 12-13 hours and sometimes even 14 hours at night with a 1.5-2 hr nap every day with little effort on my part. Those days feel like a distant memory to me now. Pretty much overnight, he started sleeping more like 11 hours AT MOST a night and often only a one hour nap. So, to recap, in about a 24 hour period, we went from one child who slept up to 15 hours a day, to a newborn who wakes up all night and an overtired toddler who gets up at 7AM instead of 8:30. Is it any wonder I thought I might lose my mind?
Today I remembered an episode of Supernanny and had an “Aha!” moment. In this episode, the parents had trouble getting their children to sleep at night. Their bedtime “routine” was basically a game of who could yell louder. Jo (ie: Supernanny) told the parents they needed to create a slower-paced routine. By plopping the kids in their room and running downstairs, they were signally to their children that there was something exciting going on. Not the best way to encourage them to relax and close their eyes. Though Little Man has a routine in which I do my best to sooth him, since Little Hiccup entered the scene, I often rush through the motions.
Since LM weaned about five months ago, I replaced that time with singing. Over time, the songs have become more exciting and less soothing and I’ve found ways to make the songs shorter to speed up the process. Oops! So here’s my advice: if your newborn’s awake, incorporate him/her into the routine with your toddler so you’re attention isn’t divided. The days where LH was already asleep or I included him in the routine, the more relaxed the routine became and the better LM slept.
There’s really no way to completely prepare for the arrival of your second, but I think the more you can anticipate ahead of time, the less you’ll have to figure out later. Because no one’s thinking very clearly when both kids are screaming and you’ve only slept for two hours that night. Plus, if you can anticipate sleep issues, maybe you can avoid that situation altogether.