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How To Enjoy Your Baby Beating The Clock
If you are expecting a second baby while the first one is an active toddler, take heart. This article shows you how to keep your cool, fit all chores into the 24 hours, and still find time to enjoy both your babies. If you’re a first-time mother you’ll find these ideas helpful, too.
Sometimes it seems a great idea to have another baby as soon as the first is on his feet. At other times, it seems that all you’ve got is double trouble. But the prospect of coping with a young baby and an active toddler need not get you all steamed up.
Second time around, you’ve got a lot more confidence. No more leaping out of bed at 1 a.m. to see if baby is still breathing. No more over-anxious checking of safety-pins, fussy test-weighing, calls to your doctor because he’s snorting and you think it’s pneumonia.
A lot more confidence, but a lot less time. Your worry now isn’t that you don’t know how to handle a baby but that you don’t know how to handle everything else.
The toddler needs just as much attention, more, perhaps. While the baby – well, you used to find a baby on his own almost a full-time job.
Of course, granny managed perfectly well with six children, yet you simply can’t get everything into a 24-hour day. Or, if the baby hasn’t been born yet, you don’t know how to plan ahead.
It isn’t easy. For the next few months you are going to be working the sort of hours that would make a good trade unionist blench. You may be the perfect organizer who can take everything as it comes without a fuss.
But if you are not it helps to stick to the general principle: get your priorities sorted out.
And the sensible time to do this is in advance, before the broken nights and scurried days get on top of you.
Most important is a good start for the baby. Inevitably it will be his needs for food, comfort, and cleanliness that dictate the shape of your day.
Here you can cut a few corners: the daily bath your first never missed, for instance, can be replaced by a topping-and-tailing on alternate days with no damage except, perhaps, to your pride.
But don’t ever be tempted to leave baby with his bottle propped on a pillow; this can be dangerous, and almost as bad, it deprives him of the comfort and contact he needs at feeding time.
Equal priority, of course, is to find time to be with your toddler, so he won’t feel left out.
To do these things, domestic short-cuts have to be taken, so have a long, cool look at the way you arrange your normal working day.
Loads of washing there will be, but if you have a washing machine, or at least avoid acquiring “hand wash only” things, it won’t demand continuous attention.
Non-iron or easy-care clothes can save hours of work a week. And lots of items can go without ironing at all – towels and men’s underwear, for instance.
How many hours a week do you spend shopping? If you have to shop every day, there’s something wrong with the way you organize. Plan ahead, and work to a shopping list.
When time for thinking, let alone for food shopping, was short, I found it a good idea to work to a fortnightly plan. I scheduled menus for two weeks (weekly repeats are too dreary) and permanent shopping lists to fit, so that on my shopping days it was only the odd item that had to be remembered and added to the basic list.
Do you make full use of convenience foods? Right now, cans, packets, and frozen foods are a boon. Aware of the need for more “grown-up” foods, the leading baby-food manufacturers are catering for the older toddler, too.
Junior dinners contain shredded meat and diced vegetables that have to be chewed; fruits are useful when the adults are having an unsuitable pudding. Foods for preschoolers are similar and a good follow-on from strained and junior foods.
All these meals are useful when you’re pressed for time, or the adult meal can’t be adapted for the toddler.
A well-stocked store cupboard, planned before the arrival of the second baby, can save many a last-minute shopping sortie. Include such things as canned asparagus tips to provide emergency adult “starters,” as well as flaked onions, stock cubes, jelly, and other packet desserts.
Jobs to do now
Some other advance preparations that could pay off:
- Wash soft furnishings and ruthlessly tidy cupboards, shelves, and drawers.
- Seal floors to cut down future polishing.
- Get in a good supply of pedal – bin liners, paper towels, and washing powders.
- Buy plastic table mats or linen-look plastic tablecloths.
- Use long-term silver polish.
To speed housework, have an apron with a capacious pocket for dusters. As you work, have a duster in each hand; slightly damp, they’ll double their value.
And as soon as anyone has had a bath, use a few drops of neat washing-up detergent to remove the tide mark before it sets; grease in the sink vanishes with similar treatment.
Don’t be so absorbed that you miss out on social life. You can cut down entertaining without cutting it out if you invite friends for coffee rather than for dinner.
Off your hands?
Nursery school or playgroup for the toddler can be a time, and sanity-saver for you, and if he’s mature enough, good for him, too. But tot up the time spent getting him there and back, and you could find you’ve not saved very much time after all.
If you think nursery school is right for him, you will take him anyway, but preferably not just at the moment of upheaval when the new baby arrives.
Remember that a small child needs extra mothering when he gets back from “school.”
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