The guilt I felt for my toddler when the twins were born was something I hadn’t anticipated. “Just wait a minute,” was something I hated hearing myself saying. Over and over again every day I had to turn my daughter away, tell her to occupy herself, tell her wait, tell her to just get on with things herself and I would try and join her in a minute.
The guilt was awful. I still struggle with this and get emotional just thinking back. It was probably also fueled by the stress of caring for newborn babies and the sleep deprivation that came with it.
B was my first, my only baby for 2 and a half years. I had all my time and energy to devote to caring for her, playing with her, reading her stories, putting her to bed and going on fun trips out.
The twins came along and they consumed nearly all my time and energy. Suddenly I was busy changing nappies, breastfeeding, settling them to sleep, changing their clothes, cleaning up sick and the usual cooking and endless washing. It was a highly demanding, stressful, and relentless time.
Since returning to blogging last month and reading other posts I’ve realised this guilt isn’t uncommon.
If you’re expecting your second or have a newborn and toddler already, then here are a few tips I found helped me spend more time with my toddler:
Get them involved
- Instead of saying you’re too busy changing a nappy to play, involve them. For example, they could pass you a clean nappy, entertain the baby to stop them crying or have them change their dolly next to you.
Don’t feel guilty about using TV
- “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is advice that I mostly took on board with my first. With your second it’s pretty impossible when you have another child to amuse. I found when (or if!) the babies slept at the same time, this was our special uninterrupted mummy-daughter time. On a good day I do painting, crafts and playing with her. But to be quite honest in the newborn days this was too much. After being up most of the night I just wanted to curl up in a ball in a dark room. The nearest I could get to this was putting on a film and lying next to her on the sofa. Just don’t feel guilty, it’s not forever.
Walks with the pram
- Getting out of the house with the babies in the pram has lead to some of the most quality time with my eldest. We’ve chatted as we’ve walked, collected nature, played in the park whilst the babies slept in the buggy, and been to the fun fair (although that did involve a stop off to breastfeed the twins on a part-broken picnic bench whilst trying to consume an overpriced hot dog!… and then change both nappies on the grass… she waited very patiently).
Find local playgroups
- We go to a couple of brilliant groups. A multiples group and a church group at the end of our road. The main advantage of playgroups for me, aside from the blissful hot coffee and toast, was having people to help; to do crafts with my little girl (and clean up the mess after!!); to watch the twins while I took her to the toilet; to play with her; to watch the twins so I could play with her! I couldn’t survive without our groups and I’ve made some great friends. They’ve been there when I’ve needed a shoulder to cry, to offload, to understand and to laugh with.
Most of all, don’t be hard on yourself. Remember how challenging and tiring you found just 1 baby and now you have the extra demands of a toddler too. They will adapt quicker than you think, and so will you.
Please comment if you’ve had a similar guilt-trip and share how you cope.