Author Topic: newborn with toddler?  (Read 5976 times)

WageSlave

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newborn with toddler?
« on: December 07, 2012, 12:14:09 PM »
We are a one income (me) family, wife is a stay at home mom.  We currently have a toddler about two years old, and a baby due in about six months.

We have no family nearby, nor any real nearby friends in a comparable situation.  When the baby arrives, my wife is worried about being able to take care of the newborn and entertain the toddler.

My wife wants to enroll our toddler in "preschool" at $140/week (for a 2.5 year old, isn't it more like daycare?).  She wants personal time with the baby, wants the baby to be able to actually sleep during the day (toddlers don't play quietly), and wants our toddler to get some social interaction with other kids.  (Side note: toddler currently gets virtually no social interaction since, as I mentioned above, we're kind of a "loner" family.  My wife is worried she'll be behind in that regard when she starts kindergarten.)

My ability to help out, at least during the week, is limited by my working hours---I'm away from home 12 hours/day (no ability to change this).

The aspiring Mustachian inside me says that having a newborn with a toddler is terribly common, and a lot single income families couldn't even afford to spend money on preschool as I have described.  I would assume a lot of folks get help from family (not available to us); some probably use the TV to "babysit" (not something we want to do); and the rest presumably just tough it out for a while.

Eager to hear any input on this.

Thanks!

tooqk4u22

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2012, 12:45:35 PM »
Our kids are about 2 years apart - and your concerns are both real and overblown. 

Your 2YO will probably want to love and help the baby and also will be jealous.  When we brought our second home, the oldest talked to him and stayed near him, then when we were heading up to bed the oldest said put him outside, I don't want him with us. 

Also babies sleep fine with noise as long as the are accustomed to it, so we never tried to be super silent when the baby was sleeping.

Mom's clubs were a lifesaver - good for arranging play dates (free socializing) and commiserating with other SAHM. 

There will be times when it will be hard such as when your wife wants that personal time but the toddler is craving attention - I assure you this will happen.  When laying in the bed ask and allow the toddler to hold the baby, get them involved. When the baby is sleeping, use that time to do a puzzle, read  or something to the toddler. And while we didn't use the TV to babysit per se - the use of it does help and there are plenty of shows that have an educational element.

Before you know it they will be playing together without you so don't stress, just enjoy.

DoubleDown

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2012, 01:11:04 PM »
Great question, and great advice already from Tooq! I would really second the bit about not trying to be quiet for the sake of the baby sleeping. Keep normal household noise going, even vacuuming, dishwasher running, normal conversation levels, you name it. The baby will be automatically acclimated, will sleep right through it, and you will be glad you did later on so the baby isn't waking at the drop of a pin.

To your question in particular: I agree with you completely. As a husband myself, I would also suggest you quickly agree with your wife :-)

Now, I don't mean agree to enroll your toddler in preschool. I mean agree with your wife right away about the goals at hand, so she'll feel you're on board. The goals being, getting your toddler socialized with others their age, her goal to have personal 1-on-1 time with the baby, etc. Assuming you've already discussed this with her, make a point of saying something like, "I've been thinking about our discussion, and I think you're right about getting the toddler socialized and you deserving some alone time with the baby. We should figure out how to do that." Then maybe just let that sit for another day or so...

Then it's just a question of HOW to accomplish those things. You can use tooq's advice for things like mom's groups and the other good suggestions. Your wife should make a point of going to the local playground several times a week, she'll quickly become familiar with the other moms and your toddler will automatically get socialization with others his/her age.

You could even consider enrolling him/her in a much less expensive activity or class that meets a couple of times a week -- toddler gymnastics, arts/crafts, whatever. Free children's reading groups at the library, etc. Depending on the size of your community, I'll bet you could even find free classes and activities at your local community center. The point being, there are plenty of opportunities for socialization without enrolling in expensive preschool.

Your toddler should be taking 2-3 hour naps a day, tapering off until they're about 4 y.o. So there will be some built-in alone time with the baby right there. And you could volunteer to take the baby for, say, 30 mins. a few evenings each week or a couple of hours each weekend, whatever works for you and your wife.

You are right, people have been raising children like this for thousands of years, it will all work out.

twinge

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2012, 02:14:17 PM »
My vote would be against daycare because most kids in daycare are there more often so a part-timer often feels out of the loop and it doesn't help their socializing as much.  Two years old isn't the best time to start daycare either, especially when there is another big transition (new baby) at the same time.   I would vote for mom's groups for socializing.  I agree with all those who said let the baby get used to sleeping through anything.

The harder time will likely be when the baby is a toddler and more mobile etc. and wrecking the older one's stuff etc. and at that age the older one is more likely to benefit from a preschool program for 3-5 year olds where the norm is to go part-time.

bdub

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2012, 03:56:48 PM »
I agree with the mom's group suggestion.  Assuming your wife actually wants to meet other moms in a similar situation, the mom's groups are a great (and free) way for your wife to make like-minded friends and for your children to get social interaction.  Now that our kids are 5.5 and 4, my wife has made some great friends and our kids are not socially awkward.  I can almost guarantee there is a mom's group on meetup.com in your area.

Also, there are likely less expensive mom's day out programs through your school district, community ed and local church groups.  We have done community education classes (gymnastics, dance - $150/semester for 8 2 hour classes), school district early childhood (2 hours/day, 2-3X/week for 15 weeks  - $180/semester) and several church programs (usually comes out to about $5/hr for a 3-6 hour program 1x/week).  My wife was able to keep our kids active about 10 hours/week since they were 6 months old AND we she has made some really good friends.  Those friends and their spouses have now become our friends which has been a great perk since I try not to fraternize with co-workers too much.


caligulala

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2012, 06:04:18 PM »
We did exactly what your wife suggested when our 2nd was born. We're in the same position you guys are and it was the best thing we could have done for everyone. Ours are 17 months apart and only having the baby for a few hours every morning was great. It meant I had some alone time to bond with baby, get some cleaning or work done, or run some errands with only the baby in a bucket seat. There is no room in the grocery cart with an infant seat in the main compartment and a toddler in the upper area!

The hard part about the mom's group suggestion is that it takes a lot of effort on your wife's part to plan all those activities. Since it sounds like she's an introvert too, that might be a tall order on top of taking care of the little ones. I'm pretty extroverted and even I don't feel like having the same chats about which grocery store I go to or what swaddle suit is best all the time.

We took toddler out of daycare when baby became mobile at about 6 months. At that point, splitting them up was more work than relief. Some temporary relief for your wife during those early months would be money well spent in my opinion.

gooki

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2012, 02:21:32 AM »
Your toddler should be taking 2-3 hour naps a day, tapering off until they're about 4 y.o. So there will be some built-in alone time with the baby right there. And you could volunteer to take the baby for, say, 30 mins. a few evenings each week or a couple of hours each weekend, whatever works for you and your wife.

And just to prove every child is different, our toddler has been running on 30 to 45 minutes of nap time a day for the last 18 months.

As the others said, noise from the toddler is not an issue. Our girl will be a couple of inches from our sleeping new born, shouting "hello" in his face, and he won't even flinch.

As for what's best, only you can decide. But what ever plan you choose don't follow it blindly if it isn't working out.

Don't expect too much from your wife. If your kids are happy and healthy job well done, who cares what state the house is in.

Step up when you are home in the evenings and the weekends. That may mean taking the toddler grocery shopping, or too the park for an hour or two. Doing more chores around the house etc.

And generally speaking the second child is easier than the first. Less anxiety, already own most stuff, better prepared etc.

And finally just roll with it. I got new born shit on my transformers t-shirt today and its all cool.

happy

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2012, 04:35:50 AM »
I agree with the other posts. My only other comment is that if you put the oldest into daycare on the arrival of the new babe, he/she may feel even more jealous and "replaced", than otherwise. There's quite a big adjustment for the oldest having to share mum and dad. Its possible his/her behaviour might be worse at home trying to compete for attention. Every child's an individual so it just depends.

Your wife may be feeling anxious about how she is going to manage 2... which seems daunting , but it really is a lot easier second time round.

I found the worst time was breastfeeding, so sooner were we settled when my son would get into mischief.  I developed some strategies like watching TV /fave DVDs with I'm whilst breastfeeding, so I could talk to him.  Once baby is feeding well, you can read to the other or have them doing a favourite activity. 

Your wife will definitely need some "time out"...follow Gooki's suggestions. Maybe you could regularly take charge on part of the weekend.  OR get up at night on Friday and Sat when you are not working. If you oldest is not in bed when you get home, try to take over the bedtime routine.

ashem

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2012, 05:34:20 AM »
I'm assuming at $140/week, this is a 5-day a week program? How many hours a day?
I enrolled my kids in preschool when they were 2.5 or 3, but only sent them 2 mornings a week. The next year, I sent them 3 mornings a week.
That might be a good compromise. It would cost much less and give your toddler a chance to adjust to his new reality.



Hamster

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2012, 11:43:17 AM »
Do whatever works for your family. Everyone is different.

My opinions: I would say that maternal health/sanity and ability to bond with the baby are more important than "socializing" a 2 year old. Interactive play, cooperation, and friendships are more important in older toddlers than 2 year olds.

Putting a bunch of 2 year olds together in a room is no more socialization in my mind than putting a bunch of teenagers in juvenile detention for a minor offence; they're as likely to pick up bad behaviors from their peers as they are to develop anything constructive. For families that only put their kids in front of the TV or yells at them, then daycare offers the kids a much better alternative. But I don't think that for a nurturing family at home, daycare offers the kid any advantage over staying at home.

Preschool at 3 or 4 will give plenty of time for kids to get used to a classroom environment and start making friendships.

I agree with engaging him in the care of the new baby as much as possible. Sending him to day care for the first time soon after a new baby arrives is likely to cause more separation/attachment/jealousy issues.

I second the idea of a couple of half-days per week to see how it goes if the respite is needed.

Personal anecdote: my second child stopped napping altogether at 18 months after she learned to climb over the walls of the crib. From then on, about once a week, she would fall asleep for the night at 5pm and catch up on sleep. Otherwise she wouldn't take any more regular naps, but was thankfully good at quiet play. Every kid is different.

tooqk4u22

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2012, 10:19:21 AM »
And generally speaking the second child is easier than the first. Less anxiety, already own most stuff, better prepared etc.

Agree with this as it relates to expense and worries, but couldn't disagree more from standpoint of life.   Going from one to two I felt was very very difficult...you are going from double coverage to man coverage...both babies (a 2YO is still a baby) will be very demanding and sleep patterns almost never align - this is something to be prepared for and all the more reason to be flexible with everything - if you are stressed they will be too.

IMO going from 2 - 3 was the easiest - zone coverage with the oldest playing free safety to occupy the middle one.

bogart

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2012, 08:50:26 PM »

Your toddler should be taking 2-3 hour naps a day, tapering off until they're about 4 y.o. So there will be some built-in alone time with the baby right there. And you could volunteer to take the baby for, say, 30 mins. a few evenings each week or a couple of hours each weekend, whatever works for you and your wife.

I completely agree ("...should be taking...", but my toddler didn't.  His nap was down to about an hour by age 3 and completely gone before 4. 

You are right, people have been raising children like this for thousands of years, it will all work out.

Actually if you look across history and the globe, a solo parent responsible for a kid, or multiple kids, for many multiple hours day after day is, I suspect, pretty unusual.  I find it grueling even with just my one kid.  I'm not saying it's nuts or a bad idea, but it sure isn't right for everyone, so I think the OP's wife's opinion should weigh pretty heavily here.  Also, some babies are "easy" and some aren't, and it's not just a matter of first-time parents having a harder time of it.  Obviously, that (what baby #2's mode will be) isn't known until the baby arrives!  And count me among those who find the prospect of finding and participating in "mom's groups" even more depressing and exhausting than just staying home by myself + the kid!

(For the record, I love being a mom, but I would not have loved being home full-time with my son, and I definitely would have found managing an infant plus a toddler exhausting)

$140/week in my area would be phenomenally inexpensive, if we're talking full-time daycare/preschool.  But of course the real question is whether this fits in your household budget or, conversely, if you need to access it, how you can make it fit.  On the other hand, I do agree with those who have pointed out that welcoming a new baby and starting daycare/preschool at the same time may be hard on your older one, so there's that to balance in.  Are there any mid-range options, maybe a middle schooler in your neighborhood interested in working a few afternoons a week as a "mother's helper?"

WageSlave

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2012, 04:24:51 PM »
Thanks all for the replies!  I haven't abandoned this thread, just trying to digest it (and busy with life).

Also babies sleep fine with noise as long as the are accustomed to it, so we never tried to be super silent when the baby was sleeping.

Interesting to hear that.  Our only source of reference is my wife's friend, who is basically in the same situation, but a year ahead of us.  And she says her newborn was constantly being awaken by her toddler.  So that's the "closest to home" data point we have, and therefore that has become the expectation.  I suppose that, in the end, it's unpredictable, and we'll just have to see how the baby is.

Mom's clubs were a lifesaver - good for arranging play dates (free socializing) and commiserating with other SAHM.

Several people made this suggestion.  We haven't tried it recently, but my wife did try it off and on for roughly the first year or so of our toddler's life.  There were no meetups in the immediate area, all required driving.  (OK, technically, per MMM standards, they were bikeable, but selling my wife on biking everywhere with kids is a very long ways away.)  Anyway, the ones she did try to attend were in neighborhoods where it's hard to find parking.  So 15--20 minutes of driving, another 15 minutes looking for a parking spot.  Now there's very little time to hang out before the kid needs a nap or feeding.  On top of that, she didn't really hit it off with any of the other moms.  Nothing bad, just never got past the awkward small talk phase.  One woman in one of these meetups actually showed up with her nanny!

I know, persistence is key here, but, my wife is kind of already "once bitten, twice shy".  And to be fair, she's like me: not a naturally outgoing person.  Getting comfortable around new people and actually making friends in these kinds of forced situations doesn't come naturally to either of us.

Your wife should make a point of going to the local playground several times a week, she'll quickly become familiar with the other moms and your toddler will automatically get socialization with others his/her age.

There is a nice playground nearby (about a two minute walk).  We go there from time to time.  Unfortunately, we've never met anyone (again, not the naturally outgoing types).  People either play with their kids directly (and politely ignore everyone else), or they sit back and glue themselves to their smart phones, only occasionally checking on the kids.  We're pretty sure these latter folks are nannies anyway.

Your toddler should be taking 2-3 hour naps a day, tapering off until they're about 4 y.o.

Did you mean that as two 3-hour naps, or a single nap that lasts two or three hours?  Our toddler does one nap a day, and it's hit-or-miss how long she sleeps.  If my wife gets a solid two hour break, she considers herself lucky.  My daughter sleeps like a champ at night though!

$140/week in my area would be phenomenally inexpensive, if we're talking full-time daycare/preschool.  But of course the real question is whether this fits in your household budget or, conversely, if you need to access it, how you can make it fit.  On the other hand, I do agree with those who have pointed out that welcoming a new baby and starting daycare/preschool at the same time may be hard on your older one, so there's that to balance in.

I'm not sure about the specific cost breakdown.  My wife just mentioned to me that there is a well-reviewed preschool in our neighborhood that had a big flyer advertising that $140/week price.  The problem isn't so much whether or not we can afford it (we can).  It's just that, with every new expense, I imagine MMM standing there face-punching me, saying, "That's over $6k year!  Tens of thousands in opportunity costs over several years!"

Are there any mid-range options, maybe a middle schooler in your neighborhood interested in working a few afternoons a week as a "mother's helper?"

That might be something to look into... there's a girl in our neighborhood we sometimes use as a babysitter.  Since our baby is due in the summer, she ought to be available.

Thanks again all!

chilliepepper

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2012, 09:06:11 PM »

Actually if you look across history and the globe, a solo parent responsible for a kid, or multiple kids, for many multiple hours day after day is, I suspect, pretty unusual.  I find it grueling even with just my one kid.  I'm not saying it's nuts or a bad idea, but it sure isn't right for everyone, so I think the OP's wife's opinion should weigh pretty heavily here.  Also, some babies are "easy" and some aren't, and it's not just a matter of first-time parents having a harder time of it.  Obviously, that (what baby #2's mode will be) isn't known until the baby arrives!  And count me among those who find the prospect of finding and participating in "mom's groups" even more depressing and exhausting than just staying home by myself + the kid!

This. I feel we've lost a lot over the past few decades when it comes to having the proverbial "village" around us. Our closest family is a 6-hour drive away from us, so we're pretty much on our own. It seems the only way to get a break is to pay someone to take our kids---whether just a night of babysitting, or a morning of preschool, or whatever.

Here is a related article that I read just tonight, which made me feel not quite so sucky: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-morrison/motherhood_b_2271349.html


(For the record, I love being a mom, but I would not have loved being home full-time with my son, and I definitely would have found managing an infant plus a toddler exhausting)

BTDT, first two sons 19 months apart...yep, it was exhausting. And for the record, my second kid was NOT easier than the first. He was (and still is), like, a bajillion times harder. And yeah, I was pretty gung ho to get them into preschool when the time came.

That being said, I agree with the mid-range options that have been suggested. I don't think it needs to cost you that much. $140/week is almost as much as we paid last year to have BOTH our sons in a private preschool/kindergarten, 5 days a week. Maybe you can find something that's only one or two mornings a week, or I really love the idea of a mother's helper. That's the one I think about all the time, in my current situation. Sometimes, when I'm feeling totally overwhelmed, I think I need to go to drastic measures to "fix" things---when all I really need is a couple hours' worth of help to get me back on my feet.

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2013, 02:25:33 AM »
Our kids are about 2 years apart - and your concerns are both real and overblown. 

Your 2YO will probably want to love and help the baby and also will be jealous.  When we brought our second home, the oldest talked to him and stayed near him, then when we were heading up to bed the oldest said put him outside, I don't want him with us. 

Also babies sleep fine with noise as long as the are accustomed to it, so we never tried to be super silent when the baby was sleeping.

Mom's clubs were a lifesaver - good for arranging play dates (free socializing) and commiserating with other SAHM. 

My first two kids were only a year apart. It was tough at first, but even at a young age my eldest son showed concern for the baby too.  Sometimes we worry too much about it :)

Norman Johnson

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Re: newborn with toddler?
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2013, 06:41:16 AM »
I vote some sort of daycare or preschool program, but I would start it before the baby is born and I would probably just go part time, like two or three days a week. It gives the toddler somewhere to go and play with other kids, have other adults in their life that are caregivers, and after the baby comes, somewhere to go where she is still the star of the show!

Cost will be at local rates, so I wouldn't put too much into numbers that people post. In our case, I send my son to an expensive daycare, but I win because it's within walking distance of my home and work. Paying that extra money is worth it to me to have the extra time and freedom from traffic. You'll have to decide what is important to your family along with your wife, and then allocate resorces appropriately. (And as a side note, he LOVES daycare and they get to do all sorts of messy and fun things I would never do at home!)