If you thought it was a life adjustment having one baby in your life, then shizz got got upleveled. Baby number 2 (or 3 or 4…) is on the way, and you’re in for a new kind of juggling act. Managing feeds, baths, nappy changes, sleeps and entertainment can feel unrelenting and exhausting.
So how do you manage? I thought I’d call on some advice from other mummas who have survived having a baby and toddler(s) at home. Funnily enough, the first response that came up time and again: wine!
Jokes aside, there is plenty of fun to be had. It’s just about having a few ideas up your sleeve to help you all get through. So here are 5 activity ideas when you have both a baby and toddler to entertain.
1. Visit your local library
Many local libraries have group activities or sessions to cater specifically for parents with bubs or young children. For example, most Libraries host Wriggle and Rhyme, a programme that promotes active movement and brain development for babies and toddlers aged two years and under.
A library visit is also an opportunity to not just get out of the house, but meet with other parents while also giving your toddler an opportunity to select books to read together.
2. Music Classes
Babies and toddlers alike will be entertained with the sights and sounds of groups like Mainly Music or Kids Music Company. Mainly Music classes are generally run by local church groups but all families are welcome to attend and get their groove on.
Not only a great option to keep your toddler occupied, but also an opportunity to vent, cry and laugh with other parents, in a space that feels supportive, safe and facilitated space.
SPACE has 28 support and playgroups throughout NZ and Plunket has more than 180 playgroups. Australia also offers community Playgroups in each state. They are open to all ages, up to the age of five, and are often free to attend. Children are exposed to social experiences, and you’ll connect with other parents in your area.
4. At-home activities
While it can feel impossible, there are ways to keep different ages occupied together at home. Build a fort, get imaginative with boxes, or take some chalk out to the trampoline to draw.
Quality play time with your toddler one-on-one also sets them up for independent play (so you don’t always have to rely on a screen to keep them busy!). This is helpful when you need to work, do chores or put your feet up while your baby is sleeping. Your toddler can learn to colour or play close by while you take a little time to read a magazine, have something to eat or chat on the phone.
Swimming classes cater for both infants and pre-schoolers, teaching them confidence in the water and valuable motor skills (and burning off some energy). Infants can start from 3 months, so if you’ve already got a toddler booked in, it’s worth getting your baby started early, too.
Lean on each other
Other mums and dads know how tough it can be to feel like you’re really ‘winning’ at this parenting thing with more than one kid. Parent guilt can start to creep in, when you feel that you’re not giving your kids the attention they want, but don’t feel like you’re alone. Leverage your coffee group contacts and arrange at-home playdates and coffee catch ups. Get good routines set up - for both your kids, and yourself, around meal planning and sleeps. Mornings are generally good for activities, and don’t organise play dates too late in the day so you don’t feel rushed. And if all else fails, make sure you’ve got some wine in the fridge for when you finally get to hit the couch at the end of the day!