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Managing when there's older children

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Dd1 does somersaults beside the newborn when he's lying on the bed being changed. Dd2 asks to be nursed when she sees ds being nursed.

The girls need stimulation, conversation, play. It was exhausting enough keeping up with them and the housework when there was just the two of them. Dh is going back to work next week and I think my mom is still going to help with the girls for a little bit. Come September though, it's me with the lot of them.

If I get enough sleep then I feel more able to deal. But man... I'm a little bit scared right now. How do you put up with the crazy hectic energy of a 2 y.o. and an active precocious 5 y.o. and the demands of a newborn who likes to nurse all.the.time? I feel like shuddering in a corner and crying.

The truth of the matter is, I know we'll figure it out. We'll have to. And it'll be what it'll be.

Any advice?
post #2 of 15
My big boys start school (K and 2nd grade) in a couple weeks. They haven't been too terrible; my littler had an adjustment period but is back to his cheerful self now, even more helpful than before-baby.
Is your 5 yr. old starting school soon? I'm really looking forward to having some alone time with the baby. I have to admit I'm spoiled though; my husband works from home although he gets grouchy if I keep interrupting him.
post #3 of 15
I totally feel you on the huddling in a corner and crying. I was so happy to get home from the hospital to see my "big" kids, but then I felt like the babymoon was really over. Today I had a babysitter over and I napped with my new guy, and that was really nice.

Are there any activities your older kids do on a regular basis? I found that having some kind of schedule really helps. Like a weekly library reading time, swimming or dance lessons, a weekly playgroup, etc. Anything to get us all out of the house frequently really improves the general mood.

I'm trying to figure out some baby safety strategies since all my kids want to grab, hold, or carry the babe. I think he'll just have to be in the sling a LOT.
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for weighing in Mamas. Yeah I was thinking that I'm going to have to use the sling a whole lot. Scheduled activities help.

Actually dd1 will be in SK in September, and dd2 will be going to nursery school. They will both be gone from 9 a.m. to noon. So I will have the mornings with ds after they are dropped off. Dh will be working late and getting home at 8 p.m. daily - close to bedtime.

I dunno. I'm not sure why it's anxiety provoking, but it is. I know there are things we can do that will be fun.

It'll be fine. I can take them to an indoor playground or outdoor playground. We have lots of arts and crafts stuff to do at home. I'm just shuddering at the amount of energy it will take to clean up after them, meals, mediate fights, etc. I remember wearing the kids in a sling while cooking dinner. I can do the same. It's exhausting though.

My kids aren't great at cleaning up after themselves (not that a whole lot is to be expected of such little ones).
post #5 of 15
Surfacing, I laugh when I read your posts or when you respond to mine, because it feels like we are always in very similar situations, in pregnancy and beyond! My DS is 6, DD is 3, and then of course the new DS...I hear you on all fronts...my two very active older ones have adjusted well, but are sometimes overly intrigued by their new sister..."Does she have eyes? Can I see them? Look at her tiny ears! Can I touch them? Is she old enough to play with me yet???"

Shoosh! DH is back to teaching in September, so flying solo here as well. Ready for the challenge, though, as I was teaching and grading and coaching and you name it and unable to be home with my other two...

Looking forward to your next post...I am sure I will be able to anticipate it!

I especially hear you on the nursing around the clock front...shoosh...this is just what my kids do...and since I nurse "on demand" they really only will fall asleep with "baboo" (as we call it) next to them...savouring the moments, though - savouring the moments...
post #6 of 15
I'm all about prevention and keeping them going. Books to breakfast to playdoh to outside to whatever to lunch to books to bed to snack to outside and the sprinkler to supper to daddy to bed. Whew. But, as long as I keep THEM going, I can catch a lot of breaks in between. When the days are really pushing me, I try to pull out some activities I can set on the counter the night before when dh is around to help a bit.

I also have told my kids more than once, "I have done x, and y, and z WITH you, and provided a, and b, and c for you to do. Now YOU respect that Mama needs a minute and go do something nicely."

And, my kids help a lot, and I send them back to do it again if it's not done well. Obviously, not my 1yo, but my newly 3 (end of May) and 5yos can do quite a bit for me.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Just1More - about getting help from the 5 y.o. and 3 y.o., what kinds of words do you use specifically?
post #8 of 15
Well, I talk about work and responsibility and being a team and a family a lot. It's sort of an ongoing conversation.

We talk about how Daddy's job is to go to work to make money so that Mama can buy the things that we need. It's Mama's job to take care of them and keep the house clean and comfortable. What would happen if Daddy and Mama didn't do their jobs? What will happen if the kids don't do their part?

I heard a blurb a long time ago about how Americans (and especially children) have a high rate of mental illness, specifically depression. It was suggested that children fall prey to depression because they don't truly have a place in the family that matters.

Dh and I work really hard to make their place in the family important and clear to them. If the table doesn't get cleared off...we won't be able to eat supper. If they toys aren't picked up, Mama might break her toe again, or the toys may get broken. If you don't go down to feed the dog, she'll get hungry and die. As they get bigger, we are expanding their roles and responsibilities. But, the point is, we talk frequently about being a family and a team and needing each other, and that we all have to help.

We talk about being a good steward of our money and of our time. We only have so much time everyday, so if they'd like to play play-doh, then they will need to get their jobs done quickly or there won't be enough time. Mama has to use some time for the dishes, they have to use some time to clean off the table.

We start with the real little ones. Everybody helps, and even our 1yo likes to throw toys in a box, or help stack wood. (She's funny...you almost can't get anything done because she's "helping" so much!)

There's some practical things, though. It all sounds good, but how do you get them to really do it? I've found I have to make them. It's a habit now, but we had to work at it. We also talk about "whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." We talk about how what you do tells others how you feel about yourself, and that when people see what you've done it tells them what kind of person you are. That leads in to "what kind of person do you want to be?" And, "what makes you feel good inside?" A sloppy job, or a good job? When the job isn't done right, I first make sure they understand what I expected, and then I send them back, over and over and over again until it is done. I remind them that they are making the choice to use their time poorly. If it isn't done when the timer goes off, they won't have enough time to play a game with me before bed, or whatever. Also, if somebody is having a bad attitude about working, I remind them again that we all need to work to make our household go. If someone is grumpy about it, then they must need more practice. And then I give another job. I tell them frequently how much I appreciate their help, and point out that since all the work is done, we have time to do (insert fun thing).

It sounds like a lot, but really it's just little things we talk about here and there along the way. And I'm not an ogre about work either. I expect them to do it, but mostly it's fun and not a big deal to them. My 5yo does a lot more than the 3yo, obviously. He takes a lot more encouragement to get it done. I mean...he's 2 years behind in the conversations.

My 5yo can...
water the flowers
clean off and wash the table and chairs
retrieve just about anything for me
feed and water the dog
make the beds
get clothes off the line
tidy the house (still needs broken in to manageable chunks. I'm teaching her how to do this for herself, too. Pick one category of things, and then another)
get drinks and set the table
help her younger brother and sister get dressed
clean out the truck after outings
help her daddy in the woodshop
do things in the kitchen (like get grapes off the vine and wash them, wash celery, get cereal for everyone)
entertain the 1yo for long periods
dead head the flowers
unlock the front door
help carry in groceries
fold kitchen towels and all the washcloths
match socks
stack wood

My 3yo can:
help pick up toys (needs to be broken down into very small chunks. like...put this pile of cars into this basket.)
retrieve some things (but he still gets distracted along the way...sometimes he never comes back, lol)
get himself dressed
take himself potty (though he isn't to be trusted to go when he needs, or not to goof around in there..."Look, Mama! I got a horn!" Uhm hmmm...and the toilet paper is all over the floor.)
help set the table
can take one or two items anywhere
use the shop vac to sweep up sawdust in daddy's workshop
pull a wagonload of groceries to the front door, carry a few
fold washcloths
get clothes off the line (though he likes to throw them on the ground)
stack wood

My 3yo can do quite a bit, but very little unsupervised. It's been interesting that he starts to really misbehave when he feels like he's not being asked to help enough. He gets into fights with my 5yo frequently, and tries to beat her to whatever I've asked of her. When I remember to have him help, too, the issues just disappear.

This post is beyond long enough, but I also wanted to add that I use all those little jobs to help me throughout the day AND to keep them busy. It's the 5yos job to clean off the table after each meal. That keeps her engaged and occupied for about 10 to 15 minutes three times a day. After she's done, she's ready for a minute to herself and entertains herself for an additional 10-15 minutes. Having her water the flowers takes her about 10 minutes...and then she plays in the water for a while. A lot of the other little things...like getting drinks, or unlocking the door, or running downstairs for diapers or clothes or whatever, relieves me of the task and lets me do something else. It also means that the younger two don't have to wait for me to do it and it saves a lot of fussing. Dd2 and ds typically follow dd1 around, trying to help do whatever I've asked her to do.
post #9 of 15
Thanks for that thoughtful post Just1more. I have a 6yo dd and a 3yo dd and the newbie it is good to be reminded of what everyone can be doing to help. Prior to the birth of DS I was doing a good job keeping the older two busy and stimulated they did plenty to help out around the house. But in the past 4 weeks I have slacked off and just allowed chaos to rule our home. The kids are bickering and I am finding myself frustrated. perhaps a little more order and responsibility would help us all feel better.

Mostly I want to cocoon myself away with DS he is just such a little squishy and also in all likelihood our last I just want to eat him up. I find that I do not have the same patience for the girls as I did but slowly even that is coming back.

the 6yo has her summer program through the end of this week then we have 5 weeks until school starts. I just have to figure out what to do with them all day everyday. she is a very routine driven child so I think I need to come up with some structure to her day to help her feel good.

I have a feeling that once we get ourselves feeling normal school will start and we will need to adjust all over again. Nature of the beast i am afraid...
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by PapayaMom View Post
Thanks for that thoughtful post Just1more.

It's funny, I am normally a neat and organized person, and I believe in the value of being so. It makes things run more smoothly, life runs more easily, you know where to find things, etc.

Dh has been picking up on tidying and cleaning habits. I really need the kids to chip in though, because it's just TOO MUCH. They leave their clothes and toys all around.

I don't know why I haven't worked harder to gain their cooperation. I have dd1 and dd2 help with some things (like hanging laundry, spraying and wiping the glass or mirrors with vinegar and water, some folding and putting away, lining up shoes, etc.). But these things are not consistent, they're occassional. The truth of the matter is, it helps them feel more responsible and they seem to enjoy doing it.

We recently blocked off a couple of tv channels that dd1 was watching ( we were exhausted and she got to watching the family.ca channel which had some shows for tweens, NOT age appropriate). It's amazing how much more the girls are playing together with things around the house like blocks, using their imagination with clothes, role playing, etc. And today they helped share the housework some. Dd1 was interested in mopping the floor - it needed to be done - sure! I knew not to expect a whole lot but it's a good start. And dd2 was interested and wanted to participate. Then dd1 got to scrubbing baseboards with a toothbrush.

I don't know why I haven't gotten more proactive about this. Growing up, there was such VALUE JUDGEMENT placed on cleaning by the family matriarch, my grandmother, and it was always the source of a lot of arguing and fighting between my parents. My mother never did a good enough job for my father, and after a couple of decades she just stopped.doing.any.cleaning (and cooking) whatsoever as a form of passive resistance. I haven't wanted to push my girls (though at times I have) and insist that they tidy up or whatever because I guess the tape I have playing in my head is of my crusty gma haughtily "should"-ing us about cleaning and tidying. I need some better words for gaining their cooperation and making it something we are all responsible for doing. I do believe we all need to do housework because we all live together and it's not fair for one person to do it all.

Anyway, thanks, your post gave me something to think about.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

After reading your post Just1more, I've unabashedly been asking dd1 to help with various tasks, chores and to my surprise, most of the time she's happy to help. I can see her pride in feeling useful and being able to do it.

Dd2 will still run away when I ask for her help and if I'm sitting nursing ds and can't run after her, she gets away with it - which is most of the time. For now.

I wish I could help dd2 through this time of transition. She whines and cries most of the day when she's home with us. I try to give her lots of attention. What seems to help is alone time with her, which is preciously scarce. I do remember dd1 going through a time like this as a toddler (around ages 2 and 3) so partially I think it's just age appropriate behaviour, and she's on the cusp of huge changes developmentally, etc.

How's it going for everyone else these days?
post #12 of 15
Oh my DD1, age 3, is having a really tough time. Thankfully she doesn't take it out on DD2, she is over the top loving to DD2 which means trying to sleep w/ her ie climbing on top of her into the tiny swing, picking her up time after time even though we have gone over "hold the baby only when you ask and are sitting down" so many times, and going over to sbuggle with her AS SOON AS WE GET BABY TO SLEEP
post #13 of 15
DD LOVES to hold her brother while I'm busy with houselhold tasks. She also lost her cell phone recently (don't ask me why she has on at this age; it's complicated) and had to pay for a new one out of her allowance. Only, she didn't have enough so now she's my own personal cleaning lady/little helper for the next 20 days. It's been a little rough starting, but she's been honoring our deal well enough so far.
post #14 of 15
I'm jumping in to say yeah, the older siblings thing with new baby? Tough. VERY tough. Don't have time to post much more but DAMN. Did I mention tough? There's only so much of me to go around. And most of 'me' is needed by the new baby. Breaks my heart because the other kids need me too! So they're acting up (understandably) and expectations/rules are REALLY lax right now, which isn't helping. But I honestly don't have the energy to go back to the kind of normal structure we're all used to right now. Ugh. Ugh.
post #15 of 15
No advice here.. Just a I'm in part of your boat since I only have 1 other child (a 3 year old). He seems to wait until I have the baby asleep before he brings out his loudest toy and zooms it across the tile floor. He tries to break the baby's stuff when I'm not in the room. I feel like I'm always correcting him and I have much less patience with him now (although I do try to find the good he is doing and praise it). He didn't act out before the baby and he didn't play loudly for the most part.. I feel like he is spiting me sometimes.
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