Emerald was 19 months old when Alina was born. I knew going into it that having 2 kids under 2 would be no easy feat. I would have to say that the transition was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be but I think that had alot to do with my husband having a 2 month paternity leave (can I get a high-five?!).
Back to my point. I think that one of the most challenging issues was creating a bedtime routine with a toddler and a newborn. Once Jonathan went back to working nights that made it even more difficult since I was doing it alone most nights. I can remember in those early days how stressful it was trying to time it juuuust right where I would have time to do bedtime with Emma without a hungry or tired Alina interrupting us. I thought we would never figure it out and that our bedtime was doomed to chaos.
I am here to tell you that if you just hang in there it does get easier. As do most things when it comes to having 2 under 2. In the meantime I thought I would share some tips that may or may not help. Some of these may seem pretty obvious or irrelevant to you so if you read this and think, “That didn’t help at all” then just keep doing whatever you’re doing and eventually it will get better.
1. Have a routine already in place. I can’t stress this enough. I tell people all the time that I am so glad we worked hard on Emerald’s bedtime routine and sleep issues BEFORE Alina was born. Newborns have crazy enough sleep schedules that you don’t need a toddler who doesn’t know how to sleep either. If at all possible, get your toddler in a good routine before the new addition arrives. Having this in place did wonders for our family. It was our safety net. If you’re curious to read how we got Emma sleeping so well read here.
2. Work your new baby into the existing routine. Along the same lines as #1, don’t try to create a brand new routine once baby gets here. You are going to have a confused and stressed out toddler. It is much easier to work around the schedule in place since newborns are generally flexible in the sense that they won’t notice if their bedtime gets pushed back 30 minutes every now and then but a toddler most definitely will.
3. Pacify the baby before you start bedtime routine. Bedtime is always 8pm at our house. So If I knew that the baby was supposed to eat at 8:15pm I would always feed her a little early so she wasn’t squawking just as I was trying to rock my toddler. Same goes for diaper changes and burping….just get them situated so you know you have a clear 15-20 mins.
4. Include the baby. There were times when I just couldn’t time it right and I ended up rocking both at one time. That’s ok. If you have to bring the baby into the routine by having them lay on the ground on a blanket or in their Rock and Play while you read, sing or rock your toddler then do it. For us this wasn’t ideal in the beginning since babies can be noisy and exciting to a toddler who you are trying to get to bed . But you just have to do what you have to do.
5. Ask for help. If you are blessed to have your spouse home every night for bedtime then that is awesome! Get them involved. I know on the nights Jon was home we would take turns. One would do bedtime routine with Emma while the other hung out with Alina. If you are going it alone then don’t be afraid to ask for help from your mom, sister, friend, neighbor….anyone you trust. Even just 30 minutes to help you get through bedtime in those early weeks will help tremendously.
I hope these helped or sparked some ideas. Of course, they are geared more towards the early newborn weeks. Bedtime now looks much different with a 2.5 year old and a 9 month old. It’s a sister affair with baths together and snuggles together while we pray and do our routine as a family. Those days are coming soon. You just hang in there and don’t stress about it mama!