Nursing can be a beautiful bonding experience for moms. Some of the most beautiful newborn pictures I have ever seen have been of moms nursing their babies in a beautiful rocking chair in a nursery taken straight out of a Pottery Barn magazine. These images just scream of peace and love and joy.
What these newborn photos don’t show is the reality of nursing an infant. The lack of sleep, the soreness, the postpartum recovery, the emotions, and hormones. What these photos REALLY don’t show is the reality of nursing a baby while raising other children at the same time.
When I began nursing my first baby, I had a three-year-old and an eight-month-old (we adopted our oldest two kiddos, so yes, you read that correctly – I had an eight-month-old and a newborn at the same time). My three-year-old was unusually responsible and the eight-month-old was not mobile until a month or so later. I felt like nursing and keeping up with these two at the same time wasn’t too crazy. Skip ahead 20 months to the day I gave birth to our fourth baby. We had a five-year-old, a two-year-old, and a 20-month-old.
This is when things got crazy.
To put it simply, our two-year-old and almost two-year-old boys got into more cabinets, spilled more food, and made more “pieces of art” than I could ever describe in an 800-word blog. For you mamas currently walking through a similar season or getting ready to embark on this journey, here are a few tips for surviving nursing a baby while raising littles:
1. Schedule Similar Feeding Times
If one kid is eating, inevitably the others will want to eat too! It can be challenging to line up eating schedules, especially when sleep schedules may not be in sync. It will take some practice, creativity, and organization, but will make your nursing session much smoother! Snacks and meals during nursing sessions do not have to be fancy, organic, or complicated. Keep it simple. Make a basket of quick snacks that you can easily grab. Practice the routine of grabbing the snack basket before feedings and setting your little one up near you. Remember: Hangry kids do not create peace in any situation!
2. Create a Busy Basket
Don’t worry–I’m not going to ask you to become a crafty Pinterest mom and make a 10-step busy basket with homemade sensory tools. If this is your talent, then you rock it! If not, all you have to do is grab a basket, hit the Target dollar aisle, and pick some cheap and novel toys or activities for your littles. Keep these in your Busy Basket and reserve them for nursing sessions only. If you reserve these fun activities for feeding times, your kids will be more likely to stay occupied for a few minutes and not lose interest over time!
3. Expect Messes
It’s going to happen. There’s no way around it. There will be days when feeding times do not match up. There will be other days when the busy basket gets thrown across the room and your toddler runs across the house unsupervised. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to your nursing schedule, so being prepared isn’t possible.
I’ve been there. I’ve cleaned up more messes than I can count. Prepare for these times by creating a safe environment for your kiddos, child-proofing your house, and knowing that if they run out of the room and are quiet for too long, it will be okay. At the end of the day, messes can be cleaned.
4. Practice Self-Care
Nursing an infant while raising other children instantly takes you to ninja status. You grow an extra arm and are capable of feeding the baby, doing a puzzle with your toddler, letting the dog out the back door, and cooking dinner all at the same time. Your days are full of giving, giving, giving, and at the end of the day, you will often feel like you have nothing left to give. Remember to take care of yourself. Give yourself rest, fill your tank, practice self-care. Slow down to take care of yourself so that you can continue taking care of those babies!
What other tips would you give to mamas nursing and raising babies at the same time?