Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tricks of the Trade

I am just a bit over a month into parenting two and here are my survival tips so far. I know I scoured the internet looking for advice prior to Emma's birth and besides generalities like "You'll survive" and "It will work out," there are not a lot of "Do this to make your life easier" pieces of advice. That is probably because each mom needs to find her way and each kiddo and situation is obviously very different.

That being said, I was also blessed to have some friends that were willing to share some of their tricks with me and I have found myself using most of them or at least giving them a try. So, I thought I would put out what is working for me so far since I know many of my readers are expecting or already have a second.

1) Shower in the evening.

I take a shower at night, after Will is in bed and M can listen for Emma or sit with her if she hasn't gone down for the night yet. I can take as long as I want and really luxuriate in the hot water and take my time blow drying my hair. It also makes for an easier morning. I still do hop in for a quick soap in the morning, but I don't have to worry about my hair. Eventually, when Emma has settled into a more predictable schedule I might change to getting up early and showering in the morning, but this actually works well for now.

2) Baby wearing.

I will work on getting Emma into a more predictable daytime sleep schedule in a few weeks, but for now, she is happiest being worn and I am very content wearing her. She sleeps when she wants and really seems quite content until she gets hungry.

I happen to love, love, love my Ergo, and for those of you that don't already have a carrier or sling of choice, I highly recommend it. It is recommended for babies 15 pounds/4 months of age or over unless you add the infant insert. I happened to get lucky and got my insert off of craigslist months ago (even in the matching color to my craigslist Ergo), but I think you could swaddle the baby and get much the same effect. What I love about the Ergo is that it distributes the weight of the baby along the hips, rather than putting it all on your back and shoulders. It's also a breeze to put on yourself in the front wearing position (back wearing is a bit more difficult but can still be done). I like the zippered pockets and keep my wallet, cell phone, and an extra binky in there. When I clicked over to provide the links, I see they have a new model out. . . drool. . . but honestly, I love my original and can't imagine there would be much that could improve it. I have thought about getting the backpack, but really I would just stuff it more things. The smaller space forces me to travel light(er).

3) Freezer meals and shortcut steps in meal preparation.

I was fortunate to have family and friends bring us several meals in the first few weeks, but that honeymoon phase is over and we're on our own now. I actually have been making most of our meals since M returned to work. Most nights, it's okay and I am back to what I would call regular meal preparation. However, I also planned ahead and made meals to put in the freezer and when I am having a day when things aren't going well, it is wonderful to just pull something out and stick it in the oven.

If making an entire meal ahead of time sounds too intimidating, then I also did some short cut tricks to make meal prep even easier. I brown my ground meats ahead of time and then freeze them in baggies so that it's ready to make casseroles, soups, and sauces. I make rice ahead of time, add a TBS of olive oil to it after it's cooked, then freeze it in baggies. The oil helps the rice be moist when you reheat it in the microwave. I buy big bags of chicken breasts already skinned and boned. I try to wash and cut fruits and veggies when we get home from the store, so not only are they ready for a quick snack I can grab for Will quickly, but they are also ready to put on the table as an easy side or appetizer.

4) Diaper stations.

We have a two story home and rather than have to run upstairs and down for diaper changes, I have created a diaper changing station downstairs with diapers for both kids, wipes, diaper ointment, and a spare onesie and socks for Emma. Following this same thought pattern, I also keep extra blankets and a nursing pillow downstairs and upstairs. I also keep Will's shoes in a basket by the door and his comb in the downstairs bathroom (all of this stuff used to be upstairs in his bathroom and bedroom). I am finding myself moving a lot of convenience things downstairs so I don't have to keep making trips back and forth.

So. . . what are your tips and tricks of parenting (one, two, or however many you have)? And if you are not yet a parent, what methods are you thinking about trying or have seen friends use with success?

I was asked if Emma wakes Will up and, so far, she hasn't. She is still sleeping in our bedroom, which is down the hall a bit from his room (but not much - we can clearly hear him from our room). I am also concerned about this when we do sleep training. But most of my friends report that the siblings sleep right through it, or at least train themselves to after awhile. I'll report back when we start working on that!


It is what it is said...

As we look forward to adopting #2 (universe willing!) I have often wondered about the logistics and found this post helpful, especially re: the Ergo. Many of the moms in my Moms Club have #2 and most wear them in a Bjorn. But, having used one myself, it is THE most uncomfortable baby wearing device out there. So, good tip on the ERGO. Now, post a pic of you wearing Emma so I can see it in action :)

In the short-cuts category, both Trader Joes and Ralphs carry frozen rice. I poo-pooed it originally until I had it while over at a friends (all the kids wanted rice but we were already eating, so she just popped a bag in the micro). Also, I just discovered instant polenta (3 mins!). Life saving side dish (either boil it IN chicken stock OR add butter and parm. D-LISH).

A New Beginning said...

I have a question, as we prepare for our 2nd one.

Does Emma wake Will up at night when she cries or does he sleep through it?

I am so concerned the new baby is going to wake up the older one and then they will BOTH be up.

Thanks! And keep the tips coming.

Jen said...

My biggest piece of advice is to get #1 to learn to fall asleep on their own before #2 arrives. I remember looking at the positive pee-stick and then looking at 10 month old Jillian and thinking crap. This one doesn't even sleep well am I going to deal with 2? So I made a real effort (and it did involve a few tears) to get Jillian fall asleep on her own in the crib and it really seemed to take around her first birthday. I have friends that waited until later in their pregnancy to make a sleep transition and then they were too tired. Then the baby arrives and it is too late. It is downright awesome that Jillian is happy to curl up with her blankies and stuffed animals in bed each night with just a hug and kiss from DH and I. And I certainly wouldn't classify her as a good sleeper either. She has night terrors and will still occasionally wake up in the night.

My other tips are to start up a bed time routine that matches #1's as soon as possible and find ways to bathe them together. Right now Jillian is in the big tub and we have the infant tub going across the top. She really love to help wash her sister so it is a win-win. Oh and don't move #1 to a regular bed unless they are really ready for the transition. It is worth the money to buy a second crib.

Nicky said...

Very helpful, thanks! I'm getting a bit panicky about having two, particularly with regards to sleep. Jen's comment about having an easy bedtime routine for #1 just has me shaking my head. My #1 WAS going to sleep on his own every night when I got pregnant with #2, but he has now regressed and absolutely refuses to do it. We need to get him back in a good rhythm, and SOON, since the clock is ticking....

Debby said...

great tips! i totally agree with the diaper station thing...and I did that even when I just had 1 baby. Makes life simpler. the only ohther thing that i'd say helps me is to also have a bouncy seat on both levels....i bought an extra clearance one at kohls for about 20 bucks and it's so nice to have one up in my room for when i'm getting ready, etc., well as the one that's used alot on the main level.