Grace Girl was born three and a half weeks ago, and while adjusting to having 2 littles at home is not easy, I am having an easier time of it than I did the first time around. Part of what makes it manageable is getting into a routine that works for us and ensures we are taking care of basic needs every day (eating, sleeping), as well as mental health needs (morale-boosting activities, ie. getting out of the house).
A few notes:
This general routine is what we aim for, but every day is different. Some days really do go about like this. Other days, we are all still in our pajamas at noon and I am crying right along with a grumpy toddler and overtired newborn, while we sit on the couch watching “Finding Dory,” (that movie was so cute, by the way. Should I blame the fact that the ending made me cry on postpartum hormones?).
I feed Grace Girl whenever she is hungry, and I don’t let her go more than 3 hours between feeds during the day. She tends to eat every 2.5-3 hours most of the time. At night, I let her sleep as long as she will (we first got clearance from her pediatrician on this, as Warrior Girl was slow to gain weight and we had to wake her every 2 hours for night feeds for several weeks. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds).
I am trying to get into the routine of giving Grace Girl a little tummy time before each feed, and then trying to keep her awake for a bit after each feed (so she doesn’t require nursing in order to fall asleep). I am also working on putting her down awake some of the time. These things still only happen a minority of the time, but I’m trying to start now to build good sleep habits. I got most of these tips from this site. Time will tell whether I’m able to stay consistent with this, as I was basically the worst sleep teacher ever with Warrior Girl.
While every day is different and it’s far from perfect, here’s how we’re making it work so far (on an ideal day):
5:30-6:30 am (ish) – Grace Girl needs a feed around now. She is currently sleeping in a Rock ‘n Play next to the bed, so I just bring her into bed and feed her side-lying so I can squeeze in a bit more shut eye before it’s time to wake up for the day.
7:00 am – Put a sleeping Grace Girl back in her Rock ‘n Play and bring it out to the kitchen/living room so I can monitor her better. I wake up Warrior Girl if she is not already up. Letting her sleep in ruins naps and bedtimes and is generally not worth it.
Warrior Girl and I snuggle on the Lovesac while we wait for water for our oatmeal to boil. I was so happy when I realized I could stagger wake-up times for Grace Girl and Warrior Girl to make things more calm and reduce jealousy for Warrior Girl, who is used to getting morning snuggles with Mommy.
7:45/8 – It is now all about getting as much accomplished as possible before Grace Girl wakes up/needs her next feed around 8:30. The primary goal is to be ready for the day by this time. Sometimes it happens, sometimes we’re sitting on the couch watching kid’s music videos in our pajamas at that point with no aspirations to do otherwise.
Here is what I aim to do during this window of time:
8:45 – Breastfeed for Grace Girl. The hardest adjustment has been dealing with jealousy during breastfeeding. Now that Grace Girl is latching and eating better, I try to read stories to Warrior Girl so that both girls get some tlc and attention during this time.
Alternatively, if I am fresh out of f***s, I might just let Warrior Girl look at pictures/watch kids music videos on my phone during this time. (That is how I ended up posting a rando picture of my carpet on Google plus, courtesy of Warrior Girl. She also somehow took an awkward close-up of my face and sent it in a group message to several friends… That was equal parts amusing and narcissistic-appearing).
10:00 – Get out. Hopefully. I am a person who needs to get out of the house on a regular basis, even if it’s just for a walk around the neighborhood.
For walks, I push Warrior Girl in the stroller and wear Grace Girl in the carrier.
Depending on how long we will be gone, I will frequently pack up some burritos or cheese, crackers, veggies, and hummus so that we can eat lunch while out and about.
We might visit friends at this point or go to the park (Theoretically. I haven’t yet brought both girls to the park by myself. #goals). Our local library has storytime and “Music and Movement” as well a few mornings a week, both of which Warrior Girl LOVES.
Once a week this will also be grocery shopping time, but thus far we’ve avoided the grocery story by eating freezer meals and letting my mom shop for us when she comes to help out. #thanksmom
11:30 – Grace Girl breastfeed.
12:00 – Lunch. We always do simple lunches, such as bean and cheese tortillas, or scrambled eggs and toast. J has been coming home for lunch to visit us girls since I went on leave. For the first couple weeks, this was often our only chance to have a conversation during the day.
12:30 or 1:00 – Warrior Girl’s nap. I wake her up after 1.5 hours or she won’t go to bed at night. Lately I’ve been trying to meditate for at least a few minutes and/or get some writing/blogging in during this time. Other days, I just snuggle Grace Girl and read on the couch. Depending on my level of exhaustion and Grace Girl’s level of fussiness, I might pass out for a nap instead.
2:00 or 3:00 – Warrior Girl wakes up. Since Grace Girl is likely to be hungry around this time, I try to already have a snack out on the table for Warrior Girl to munch on when she wakes up.
I used to spend time in the afternoons cleaning with Warrior Girl’s “help,” but since Grace Girl’s arrival, Warrior Girl really needs/wants attention and Grace Girl frequently needs/wants to be held. Consequently, I will often pop Grace Girl into the carrier or let her sleep in the rock ‘n play while I play with Warrior Girl. I try to give her some good one-on-one attention here when I have the mental capacity.
Some days, we play a game where she is the mommy and I’m the baby and she’s putting me to sleep. I use method acting to really get into the role here and actually sleep. 😉
4:00 – Pop a freezer meal in the oven. Eventually I’m going to run out of freezer/convenience meals. I would like to believe I will then simply…start cooking again… That could happen, right?
4:38 – J gets home. I am overjoyed to have help and another adult to talk to.
5 – Dinner. We eat super early because we are always hungry by this time and I don’t approve of snacking and ruining our appetites for dinner. People best be hungry when they come to the table! Ahem. That being said, I’m a big fan of snacking after dinner. Inevitably, Grace Girl always wants a feed right around the time we get dinner on the table. Because of course. It’s fine, I love cold food.
After dinner, J plays with Warrior Girl while I clean the kitchen/return the house to a reasonable level of chaos. Before maternity leave, I never cleaned in the evenings, due to no longer giving any f***s by that point in the day. Now, however, cleaning while J takes care of the littles is practically therapeutic. It’s my quiet time to myself to think without anyone demanding I swaddle their baby doll. Ahhh….
7:00 – Get the babes ready for bed. Before Grace Girl was born, J did bedtime prep and I put Warrior Girl to bed. We have now switched roles because post new baby, bedtime started taking 2 hours due to Warrior Girl not wanting me to leave the room. J now bribes Warrior Girl to go to sleep by herself with a “gummy bear” (read: multivitamin) and it works like a charm. #thankheavenforhusbands #couldntparentwithoutbribery #inpsychologywecallitpositivereinforcement
8 – Warrior Girl asleep. J and I may watch an episode of something and snack on something indulgent while I give Grace Girl a bedtime feed. Occasionally, I use this time to blog/read/do something borderline productive. Only occasionally. Let’s not get carried away here, folks.
9 – J and I aim to be in bed early to prepare for the nightwakings to come. (He does diaper changes, I give the “bobby,” as Warrior Girl calls breastfeeding). Grace Girl tends to be hard to get down for the night due to spitting up and burping up a storm, so I often read on my kindle while endlessly burping and breastfeeding Grace Girl. Eventually, she goes to sleep and I rejoice as I zonk out in a manner that suggests I have been drinking heavily or taking sedatives, when in fact I am really just the mother to a toddler and a newborn. 😉
How do you/did you find balance in your life with littles? What is your daily routine like? Share in the comments below!