How to Balance Being a Mom to an Infant and School-Age Child
There are certain events in life that mark milestones as parents. The first time your infant sleeps through the night, when they learn to walk, losing their first tooth, and saying their first words are just a few of these monumental moments. The first day of school for your little one is another proud mommy-moment. But what if you also have a newborn at home? How do you juggle the demands of an infant with the needs of your school-age child?
1. Gradually Change Your Routine
Like with any big change in your household, it’s best to gradually ease into a new schedule. Find out what time your child’s bus comes and prior to the first day, start waking your infant a few minutes early. This will help their body naturally adjust. This adjustment will also be beneficial to your school-age child. They’ll likely need to wake up a few minutes earlier for school and create a schedule for having breakfast, getting dressed, and preparing for their day. Keep in mind that waking your infant earlier may require them to sleep longer or at different time throughout the day. Try to coordinate your newborn’s nap schedule with when your child gets off the bus. Is it easier to drive to the bus stop with a sleeping infant or do you want them to be awake so they can interact with their sibling?
Remember, changing your infant’s routine is completely acceptable, but should be done with proper care and attention. Don’t make sudden, drastic changes and be prepared that it may take your baby some time to adjust. It’s also important that the new routine is consistent, while also being flexible. Things happen and you may not adhere to the exact schedule every single day. This holds true with any infant, but is especially true when trying to juggle multiple children with different needs.
2. Embrace Alone Time
Bonding with your baby is a precious and important part of infancy. Feedings, tummy time, and diaper changes are just some of the ideal opportunities for connecting with your little one. But it’s also important to have these special, bonding moments with your older child. Be sure to capitalize on alone time with all of your children. This might mean enjoying an after school snack with your school-age child while your infant sleeps. Or scheduling a lunch or special day with your school-age child while your infant is either with a relative or at daycare. It’s important to remember that your older child still needs your love and attention. By fostering your bond with them, you’re also promoting a positive relationship between them and their new sibling. The last thing you want is for your older child to resent the family’s new addition. And while your older child is at school, really embrace the alone time you have with your newborn. Free from distractions and other demands. Both children will benefit from this focused, one-on-one attention so take advantage of it when the opportunity arises.
3. Involve Both Children
Doing things together is just as important as relishing in alone time with your individual children. Whenever you can, incorporate both children into what’s happening at home. This might mean having snack together after school or having your oldest child read to their younger sibling. You can bathe your children together and even take your newborn for a walk to and from the bus stop each day. Just because you have more than one child doesn’t mean you need to be in multiple places at once, at all times. Sure, you’ll need to divide your time on occasion, but when the opportunity arises, try to involve both children in whatever is happening at the moment. It will help them both feel nurtured and loved and reduce your stress over feeling spread too thin.
4. Make a Big Fuss
This is normally the last thing you want to do when it comes to parenting, but not when it comes to making your children feel special. Big or small, all accomplishments and milestones should be celebrated. That means showing your excitement when your child comes home with their first A or a 100 on their spelling test. It also means clapping your hands and smiling big when your infant rolls over for the first time or starts crawling. Your children’s accomplishments will look different and come at different times, but they should be met with equal praise.
It’s completely understandable that moms might feel overwhelmed by the thought of juggling an infant and a school-age child. But with a little forethought and planning, you’ll find that the sibling bond you’ve created far outweighs the stress.
I am a 32-year-old mother and wife of a police officer living in NJ.
I have my MFA in creative nonfiction and 10 years writing experience.
When I'm not writing I enjoy hot yoga, cardio kickboxing, running, and camping.
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