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  • Writer's pictureNiamh O'Reilly

Having a Baby and Toddler is the Ultimate Juggling Act…

It’s hard to believe Luke will soon be five months old… in some ways I look at him and still think he’s a newborn, but in other ways it feels like his little soul has always been here. He’s a little ray of sunshine, so smiley, happy and generally an easy going little chick… that is of course unless he’s tired, then God help us all! But, he’s a baby at the end of the day they all have their moments and they all cry… and anyone who tells you their baby doesn’t cry is lying.

I keep thinking back to that first day, last October, when my husband went back to work after his two weeks paternity leave… I was still in a lot of pain from my stitches, I was tired, I was a wee bit scared, but mostly I just could not for the life of me figure out how the hell I was going to look after my then two year old and two week old all by myself, five days a week.

Honestly, it was like an algebra equation that just didn’t balance no matter how many times I tried not to forget to carry the one!

It. Was. Chaos.

I’d tried to think back to friends who’d had their second child and how they made it all look so easy.

‘You just sort of find your rhythm.’

‘It just works itself out.’

‘He/she just fit right in.’

Can I just say that none of that rang true on that first day and even now five months in, I’m only just starting to get into some kind of stride that doesn’t resemble a zombified stupor.

The truth is, at the start, it is incredibly tough, but not in the ways I expected. The first time around, I was completely overwhelmed by the baby stuff… I found it hard to leave the house with my newborn. There was feeds, barfs, outfit changes, poonamis, and mysterious crying to deal with and by the time I did get close to leaving the house, it would be dark.

This time around YOU HAVE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE, because you’ve got another tiny humans needs to consider. Drop offs, collections, activities, etc. You simply cannot retreat into that newborn shell and as for recovery time or catching some sneaky zzz’s while the baby sleeps, that is not possible either.

I just couldn’t fathom how I was going to fit in feeds and naps with my toddler’s existing needs and routine, plus his very out of joint nose at the arrival of his new sibling. It was like he took a giant leap back in terms of meltdowns and those were incredibly challenging.

This time around, the actual baby stuff was… well easier. It wasn’t as daunting. I knew if Luke didn’t poop for a couple of days that was grand. I knew if he got hiccups it wasn’t some major drama. I wasn’t googling ‘baby green poo’ or surprised that he had a witching hour of crying around 5pm. I knew how to put on a nappy so that it didn’t leak. I was confident with the pram and car seat, I remembered to do things like restock the changing back after an epic poonami.

What was difficult, was managing and balancing the needs of two small children on my own and often it was a case that one of them was always crying and some days all three of us were.

If I was changing Luke and the little dude wanted me to play with him, he cried. If I played with the little dude, it meant Luke had to wait and he cried. After a week or so of dropping each plate I had spinning in the air, I cried. I told myself was was just not cut out for all this juggling, because it seemed like everyone else just got on with it!

Those first few days were long and hard, I was still recovering physically, I was tired beyond belief and felt like was literally never going to get into a routine… it was a real challenge. But while I felt myself really pushed, thankfully I felt like myself this time… and that was key. I wasn’t going though crippling feelings of PND and because of that I was able to just about cope. Yes I was tired, yes I cried at times, but I didn’t feel hopeless or overwhelmed to the point of despair. And crucially I realised that no one actually breezes through this period at the start… even if they lead you to believe the do.

We all struggle to find out feet.

Five months in and I feel myself about to utter those words I threw my eyes up to heaven at, at the start of this blog.

‘We just sort of find our rhythm.’

‘It just works itself out.’

‘He just fit right in.’

Yes, I know, I know, it’s not what you want to hear when you’re about to face into those first few days and weeks of solo parenting two small children. And on the days when you’re beyond exhausted and all three of you are crying, these words are about as useful as an arse flavoured lollipop, but it is true.

You do just find your own routine and things just sort of work themselves out…. Getting there can be a struggle at times, it can be painful, it can be challenging and I’m by no means some sort of zen mama who’s breezing through this thing…

I’ll give you an example, the other day I decided to go to Dundrum... in the afternoon, during mid term, alone with the baby and threenager... I’m a glutton for punishment!

After a walk in the rain/wind in the am, I just got a notion to go to Dundrum to get a few new clothes for Luke and fulfil my promise to the little dude to go to the playground...

All was going well... too well in fact. There was no major queue to get in, we got a good spot and headed to a cafe to give the baby his bottle. The little dude sat like a good boy and ate his sambo and Luke ignored distractions and gobbled his bottley...

Then the little dude pipes up that wee wee was coming... ‘can you hold it until Luke finishes his bottle?’ I asked? ‘Nope!’ He replied! .

So after having one sip of my coffee, I had to chuck Luke back in the pram mid nosh, to which he retorted with a major meltdown... I couldn’t blame him!

Got to the bathroom but the baby changing room had no toilet?! .

Of course Huge queue in the main bathroom but a lady kindly let us go first. We got into cubicle to be met with an unflushed turd... nice!

Of course I couldn’t close the cubicle as I had the carrycot on the pram so it was a complete squeeze to do anything but, I got him on the toilet just in time... phew!

When I got back to the cafe my coffee had been cleared away, so it was off to find a seat to finish Luke’s bottle...

Then it was time to find the playground and keep my promise. Having a brainwave I went off back to the car like a pack mule to dump the bags and grab the carrier and put Luke in it so he could digest his bottle upright. I shimmied him into it very ungracefully while trying to stop the little dude from running in the car park.

Success I thought! I’m smashing this! I’ve overcome all these little hurdles plus a morning of threenager whining! To the playground with us!

And just then Luke barfed down my top!


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