It can be a difficult adjustment period when you finally bring your sweet newborn into the world and now have to find ways to not only keep your older children occupied, but also keep your sanity! I wish it was easy and straightforward for everyone (I definitely would have taken this road had it been an option for me), but it’s really just trial-and-error. Come to think of it, isn’t that what parenting is all about? Finding something that works and thinking “Yes, this is the perfect solution!” and in other instances thinking “Well, that didn’t work at all…”. Each child is different, so you’re going to have to try a few things out first to see what works.
One thing I know for sure, TREAT YOURSELF WITH KINDNESS. You may feel like the worst parent in the world when you just can’t make your famous Play-Doh dinosaur right now because your newborn is cluster feeding and you haven’t eaten yet today. Or you can’t go run in the rain and splash in the puddles because your newborn will only fall asleep when they’re being held. I’ve been there. You are NOT the worst parent in the world. You are adjusting. Everyone is adjusting, so treat yourself with kindness.
Here are some great ways to keep your kid occupied while you take care of the baby (and yourself… yes, you need to eat too).
Big “Sibling” Box
When my youngest was born, a friend of mine put together a “Big Brother Box” for my oldest, who was 3.5 years old at the time. It had all kinds of fun activities in it that he could use only when I was feeding the baby. Things like colouring books, a picture book he could “read” to the baby, a Pop It sensory toy, and his own baby doll to feed and take care of. He became excited when it was time for me to feed my baby so that he could sit beside me and show me all the cool stuff inside this box that was just for him. It was a great way for us to stay connected while also giving us space at the same time. If you know someone that’s about to give birth to another child, consider gifting them a Big “Sibling” Box! They will thank you for it.
Okay, truth time. I’m only just now, in my 30s, having my eyes opened to the term “Open Ended Play”, and if you’re not sure what that means, let me tell ya! The idea of open ended play is for children to use their creativity and imagination to play with the items in front of them. It keeps their attention for longer periods of time because there are no set instruction or rules, meaning they don’t have to play with the items or toys in a certain way. Some of these items can include Play-Doh, toy animals, wooden blocks, string and beads, etc.
A good friend of mine is making these amazing sensory kits and uses the idea of open ended play to create interesting kits for kids to keep them occupied for hours. If you haven’t already, head over to her Facebook page for more fun, quick craft ideas to keep those kids busy and out of your hair.
Fun, Easy Activities
The best way to be successful as a parent of a toddler and a newborn is to be prepared. Plan freezer meals and snacks, plan for childcare, and plan fun activities.
It may not feel like it, but you will have one-on-one time again with your oldest. It may not happen in the exact moment you or they would like it to, but it will happen. A great way to do that is to plan a few fun activities for when your little one is sleeping. Quick crafts using things you’ll find around the house, like vinegar and baking soda, Play-Doh, or a big cardboard box with markers; these are all things that can help you spend time with your oldest without having to spend a ton of money or a ton of time on prep work.
This is a judgement-free zone. If you choose not to have a TV in your home, that’s great! Good on you! The majority of people do have a TV, and you know what? It’s okay to increase the amount of screen time for that first little bit of having your newborn home. It can hold your older child’s attention for longer periods of time, and it can keep them still long enough to eat something. If you’d rather have them watch something educational, here are a few amazing shows made just for kids:
- Super Why
- The Wiggles (lots of music)
- Brain Candy TV
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