Getting ready for baby number two

Being pregnant with your second child is a very different journey to first time round. The ‘planning for baby’ stage is definitely a lot more practically focused! Here’s a list of things to think about to help prepare for the arrival of baby number two.

Getting ready for baby number two

When I was pregnant with ToddlerGirl, I spent a lot of time dreaming about her nursery and researching the various baby equipment we needed. I had no real clue what day to day life with a baby would be like. This time, I know exactly what to expect with a baby (it’s like riding a bike, right?!) and all my plans revolve around how we will juggle this with a toddler.

Luckily, a lot of my friends have recently had their second child and being around them has given me a lot of tips and ideas. Here are some of the areas I’ve been thinking about to prepare for the arrival of our second child.

Thinking about how to make life easier…

Set up an online shopping list
Online shopping is a brilliant way to avoid struggling around the supermarket with a newborn and a toddler. Once you’ve done a few shops, you can just refer to previous orders, which cuts down the actual ‘shopping’ time. Even better if you can set up one or more shopping lists in advance, which you can do with tesco.com (and maybe others). I will be creating multiple lists, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, household items, stock cupboard items, baby items etc so that all I need to do is add one or more of these lists to my shopping basket and edit if necessary. This will hopefully make the weekly shop a lot easier.

Stock the freezer
Make dinnertime as easy as possible. I’m intending to cook up batches of quick meals like casseroles and pasta sauce to store in the freezer, which will be easy to defrost and heat up. I’m also planning to have some quick essentials to hand such as frozen vegetables, fish, sausages, pizza.

Use a slow cooker
We were given a slow cooker as a wedding present which I’ve never really made proper use of. I think now is the time! The idea of chucking a few ingredients in at the beginning of the day and then forgetting about it until dinnertime is definitely appealing. I’m collecting a few simple recipes and will practice using it over the summer.

Thinking about your toddler…

Prepare your toddler
I’m sure there will be an adjustment period as ToddlerGirl has been used to having me all to herself for nearly three years. Books always prove a great learning tool for her so we have been reading a variety of stories about babies and siblings so that she can start to understand what life will be like with a baby in the house. Some children are upset by baby crying, so we’ve been talking about how babies have to cry to tell us what they want. We’ve also been managing expectations; a sibling is great fun eventually but newborns don’t do much at first! As well as that, I’m trying to reinforce the idea that Mummy can’t always respond to her immediately. I’m sure this will be a big challenge for us both but hopefully some groundwork is being laid…

Consolidate routines 
Having a baby in the house will be a big change for ToddlerGirl. I am spending these last couple of months trying to get into a vague routine in the hope this will help give her a sense of familiarity and security when the baby arrives. Now is the time to potty train, sleep train, change nursery days, basically make any other planned changes so that your toddler’s routine can stay as consistent as possible once the baby is here.

Make a plan for feeding times
I remember being tied to sofa for long stretches feeding, which will be tricky to say the least with my super active ToddlerGirl to entertain. So I have been coming up with a few simple quiet time activity ideas, ranging from reading books to doing puzzles to stocking up on stickers, which I will make sure I have to hand. They are all things which we can either both do sitting down on the sofa or which I can direct from a sitting position! These ideas will also work if I just want to do something low key with ToddlerGirl if (when) I am feeling exhausted.

Spend quality time with your toddler
This is the last time it will ever be just the two of you without you having to juggle two children or feel divided between them. I’m trying to enjoy time with ToddlerGirl and squeeze in some special outings and activities, even when I could do with putting my feet up!

Thinking about the baby…

What things would you do differently second time round?
It’s really all about the toddler this time, baby doesn’t get much of a look in. But there are a few areas that we have been focused on (mainly sleeping) and we’ve been discussing the things we’d do slightly differently. I’m rereading the No Cry Sleep Solution, which I loved with ToddlerGirl but felt I discovered a bit too late at 8/9 months. I also had problems breastfeeding initially, so I’m reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding to give myself a bit of a refresher. However, if there’s anything becoming a mum has taught me, you can’t make too many plans for what you will/won’t do as baby may have other ideas so I’m flexible about what we’ll actually end up doing.

Thinking about baby equipment…

How will you get out and about with two?
We’ve got pretty much all the necessary equipment already but I have been thinking about how I’ll get around with a toddler and a baby. I have dismissed a double pushchair and opted for a buggy board on the pram and a sling for the baby if I’m taking ToddlerGirl out in the pushchair.

Set up the baby’s room
For us, this baby has to squeeze in the spare room eventually as we can’t loose this space, so we’ve been doing lots of organising and decluttering (oh so much decluttering…) to give it a length of wall to call its own! That’s been our main focus but you may need to juggle furniture, for example if you intend to use the cot that your toddler is in for the baby. Do this well in advance so that there are no negative associations that something has been taken away for the new baby.

Thinking about yourselves…!

Quality time for you
In amongst all of this, we are squeezing in some me time as we figure it’s going to be much harder to come by second time round. We’ve got used to having a little more freedom now ToddlerGirl is older so we’ve planned a few days over the summer where one of us will give the other the ‘day off’ to relax at home or go out and do something for ourselves.

Quality time with your partner
If our me time will be limited, we can’t even get our heads round how on earth we’ll ever escape the house at the same time together once we have another baby! So we’ve planned a few simple things for date nights at home to make the most of our time now: watching a film, sitting outside in the evening with a glass of wine, eating an adult meal together once ToddlerGirl’s in bed. We’re also planning to take advantage of a forthcoming weekend visit from the grandparents to have a night in a local hotel, complete with dinner and lay in the next day!

Who knows whether all these plans will help make the transition from one child to two go more smoothly – I certainly hope so! I’ll report back in six months or so time ;)

Do you have any tips for preparing for the arrival of a second child? I’d really love to hear them if you do!

 


35 weeks pregnant – and counting!

So, here I am, in the final stretch (quite literally) of this pregnancy. With around 5 weeks left, my due date is simultaneously approaching at a rate of knots and inching towards me unbearably slowly, depending on which part of me is considering it! Practically, it feels like just about the right amount of time to get the final bits organised. Physically, however, I am beginning to feel like I would happily fast forward through the next month!

35 weeks' pregnancy update

I haven’t written very much about this pregnancy on my blog. This is probably partly due to the fact that ToddlerGirl keeps me so occupied that I haven’t had a huge amount of time to focus on it! But now the end is in sight and I can’t believe how quickly it has gone by. And how smoothly. Looking back over the last 8ish months, I’m kind of surprised to realise that I’ve actually (mainly) enjoyed it.

If that seems a strange thing to be surprised about, I should probably explain…

I discovered when pregnant with ToddlerGirl that I am not one of these women who sail on through, glowing, with a neat little bump and loving every moment.

No, I suffer from horrible morning sickness for the first four months, extensive food aversions for the entire time and chronic pelvic pain which makes it hard to walk, sit, stand, bend, sleep. I end up with a huge bump, so that people continually joke “Ooh, sure there’s not twins in there” or look aghast when I tell them I still have two months until I’m due. (I’ve actually started lying about my due date to strangers now as I’m so fed up of this groundhog day reaction!).

Having had the rude awakening first time round that pregnancy was not that easy, I wasn’t sure how I would be this time. I had no idea how on earth I would cope with an incredibly energetic toddler added into the mix. But it’s been amazing how different this pregnancy has been. I’m not going to pretend I’ve skipped joyfully through each month. The first trimester was truly shockingly hard, with morning sickness and a level of exhaustion that beat even 14 months’ worth of extreme sleep deprivation. After that eased, though, I’ve found that the food aversions haven’t been as bad and the pelvic pain not nearly as severe, thankfully. ToddlerGirl has kept me so busy the weeks have flown by.

But, best of all, I have been much more relaxed this time.

I was on high alert with ToddlerGirl after suffering two early losses before I fell pregnant with her. I was waiting for something to go wrong, really, even once I got past the first trimester. My placenta was at the front and muffled an awful lot of her movements, so we ended up racing for fetal monitoring on at least five occasions. This time, I have had my lovely little girl to distract me from any anxiety. And the placenta is at the back so I have felt all sorts of wriggles and squiggles from this bubba since around 15 weeks. It’s been wonderful! Even now, when I will suddenly have a rock hard lump appearing to one side and feel like the baby is going to burst out of my tummy, alien style, I can’t feel anything but grateful for being so aware of these lovely movements.

This is probably my last pregnancy – I have no intention of trying for a third child but I don’t like to categorically state I’ll never be pregnant again as you never know what life may hold! – so it feels good to be able to say honestly that I’ve enjoyed it.

That being said, I’m definitely at the point now where I’m ready to have the baby. Alongside the many physical discomforts, I’ve done all the plotting and planning that I can to try to prepare for life as a mum of two and I just want to get on with it.

In the words of Europe: “It’s the final countdown”. Bring it on, I say!


Savouring our summer

Sitting here with our patio doors wide open, I can hear the sounds of a summer evening drifting in from the outside. Birds are tweeting and children are playing. The husband is doing bedtime, the light has a gorgeous rich tone as the sun sinks lower in the sky, there is a deliciously cool breeze wafting through the room and I am feeling perfectly content.

Savouring our summer

I have always loved our long summer evenings here in the UK but I think I appreciate them all the more now that I am a mum. After a fun/exasperating day with ToddlerGirl (to delete as appropriate, depending on how it’s gone), I relish some downtime once she has gone to sleep. In the winter, this ‘grown up’ time seems limited, thanks to the darkness descending by 4pm. But during the summer months, it actually feels like I get to enjoy much more of the day, with a portion of it blissfully free from the responsibilities of being a parent.

It’s even better on the nights when the husband is on bedtime duty. On these occasions, I like nothing more than sitting on our deck looking over our garden and soaking up the early evening atmosphere. As a mum, you have to squeeze in your moments of relaxation when you can. Just sitting and doing nothing for half an hour feels wonderfully decadent. No TV, no computer, no phone, no toddler(!). Nothing to do but let my thoughts run and the day wash over me. And breathe…

Sometimes, with ToddlerGirl fast asleep and parenting duties over for another day, both of us will sit outside for a while, chatting, sharing a drink. It can be difficult to find time for each other once you have a small child, particularly if, like us, you don’t have family in the area to take on babysitting duties. Dates out on the town may be rare but those moments sitting outside together are a lovely chance for us to catch up properly and enjoy each other’s company, just the two of us.

This will be harder to do once our second little baby is born. As the nights start to draw in, we’ll be juggling the demanding schedule of a newborn alongside a demanding toddler! Time for sitting and relaxing at the end of the day will be at a premium, for a while at least.

In the meantime, I’m going to savour every last drop of these long summer evenings while I can…


Outdoor fun in the sun

I’m having a love-hate relationship with the hot weather at the moment. The huge, waddly eight months pregnant side of me, who has hot flushes even on a cool day, has not been enjoying the heat… But, the mum of a very active toddler side of me misses the sunshine when it disappears as, there’s no doubt about it, being able to get outside makes my life with ToddlerGirl much easier!

Outdoor fun in the sun

We took advantage of the sunshine this week to head to one of our local National Trust sites. I’m all about easy right now and this particular place is great for both of us. There is a lovely natural play area just inside the grounds (so no long walk required for me…) which is perfect for whiling away an hour or so. It has enough to keep ToddlerGirl busy and, being completely contained, I can actually sit down and watch her play, without the worry that she will suddenly run off to explore something that has caught her eye. This type of space is a rare find indeed!

There really isn’t a huge amount of play equipment there. However, a slide, a well placed fallen branch to climb, a balance beam/stepper combination and a large xylophone provided ToddlerGirl with plenty to do. It just goes to show how little children really need to entertain themselves.

Outdoor fun in the sun

The fact that there is a small sandy area below the slide also helps! After a few trips up and down, ToddlerGirl of course had to dig her hands into the sand, requesting her bucket and spade, which we didn’t have with us. She resorted to using her hands, making two ‘sand dinosaurs’ that were decorated with daisies and stones for eyes and duly named Spiny and Lily (which I think must be ToddlerGirl’s favourite name as everything ends up being called Lily at the moment!).

Her dinosaur creations may have been inspired by the wooden dragon bench I was sat on. There are some other lovely little touches, including a dragon archway and a cute table shaped like an oak leaf, which ToddlerGirl was particularly taken with, insisting that was where she had to sit to eat her ice cream!

I do think the National Trust does these type of play areas really well, incorporating natural elements to give children a great space to explore, with plenty of ‘scope for imagination’. This is where membership comes in handy, as I would never pop in for such a short time if I was paying the full day rate.

fun in the sun - montage2

We had the space to ourselves this particular visit, so it was like a private play area for ToddlerGirl while I got to sit back and enjoy watching her having fun.

On reflection, the heat is a small trade off for this heavily pregnant mummy when I weigh it up against the benefits that playing outdoors on a sunny day can bring!


Low mess, low prep quiet time activities for toddlers

Ten really simple activities to keep toddlers entertained when you need some quiet time…

Ten low mess low prep quiet time activities

I am all about preparing for our second child at the moment. This includes thinking about how on earth I will keep my super active ToddlerGirl entertained when I am either completely exhausted or sat for a while feeding the baby.

With that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of ten super easy activities to pull out at these times that will hopefully buy me some quiet play from her!

1. A bag of books
ToddlerGirl and I do a lot of reading anyway but I thought this would be a good way to inject a novelty element into the activity. I have a small drawstring bag and will put a selection of five or six board books inside. ToddlerGirl can then have a rummage around to pull out each book to read. I’ll add a new selection of books to the bag each week and am thinking it will be a good way for us to rediscover some of her older books that we don’t look at as much these days. Hopefully this will be perfect for cuddling up together on the sofa while I am feeding.

2. A bag of toys
A similar idea to above but this time, I will fill a bag with a number of ToddlerGirl’s smaller toys. I’m banking on the novelty factor of discovering what’s inside the bag to keep her occupied for a little while! Again, I’ll rotate the toys each week to keep it fresh.

3. Drawing folder with a selection of printables
ToddlerGirl enjoys colouring in, so I thought I’d collect a number of free printables together in one folder along with some special colouring pencils (maybe some sparkly ones!), again to provide a novelty factor. My plan is to set up her little table in front of the sofa and ‘play school’. I have been pinning some wonderful free printables on Pinterest, which I can’t wait for her to see. These include:

  • ABC sheets (as she’s really into her ABCs at the moment, much to my surprise)
  • Tracing and copying shapes and lines
  • Dot to dot sheets
  • Various colouring in sheets

4. Small DVD library
I don’t want to resort to the television for great lengths of time to keep ToddlerGirl quiet (and she actually has a fairly limited attention span for this anyway!) but it’s inevitable that this is sometimes going to happen. We have a few DVDs already and I’ve put these in a box to bring out when we need them. I’m adding a couple of new DVDs to the collection – one is a dance DVD and the other some action songs, both of which I’m hoping will entertain ToddlerGirl being that little bit more active.

5. Apps, videos and photographs on our tablet
While we’re on the screen time theme, I’ll also be making use of our tablet… We have some songs and apps loaded on here already that went down really well when we were travelling for our recent holiday, so I’ll see if there are any others that we can add. I’m also going to load on our photo albums and videos of ToddlerGirl from babyhood onwards as she loves looking at herself(!) and hopefully it will be a good way to show her that she was as little as her baby brother or sister once and help her to relate to this a bit more.

6. Audio book basket
We have been enjoying listening to audio books for a little while now and have a few different titles on CD, including the Julia Donaldson collections. As we also have many of the books that go with these, I’m planning on putting these together so that we can read through the books as we’re listening to the stories.

7. Tots trays
I’ve seen a lot of these on Pinterest and think they are a great idea for a small, contained activity. I’ll set up a box with all the necessary bits to hand in advance of baby’s arrival, so that all I need to do is find the items and lay them out on a tray for ToddlerGirl to investigate. I’m keeping it as simple as possible (read: as little capacity for making a mess as possible…!) and will be focusing on the following ideas:

  • Cotton reel threading
  • Playdough spiders/monsters kit (with playdough, googly eyes and pipecleaners)
  • Colour sorting pom poms
  • Matching games (using free printables)
  • Using tongs to transfer pom poms and other items
  • Pritt stick collages
  • Q-tip painting with watercolours

(the last two are my potentially messiest trays, so we’ll do them in the dining room but the others I’ll set up in our living room, where I can get more comfy!)

8. Sticker books
ToddlerGirl loves stickers and is totally absorbed by the sticker books she has had in the past. I’m stocking up on a few as this is a really easy and mess-free activity for us to do together on the sofa!

9. Sequences and patterns using building blocks
I’ve seen this idea on a few blogs, including the wonderful Imagination Tree, and think it’s a great way of extending the play value of our blocks, which ToddlerGirl only really plays with in fits and starts. I’ll make a couple of pattern sheets before the baby is born so that these are ready to bring out when I need them.

10. Playing shop
This is a really easy pretend play activity that ToddlerGirl loves to do. We’ll set up a shop using her little table and play food (or sometimes books or shoes!) and take turns being the shop keeper and the customer. Since I’ve been pregnant, we’ve even played this a few times from the sofa…! We’ve used our imaginations for the till and money elements to date but, as her birthday is coming up, we’re going to buy her a proper play cash register and I’ll print out some pretend money.

And two bonus ideas:

11. Nursing box
I saw this nursing box on Pinterest a while back and carefully pinned it so I wouldn’t forget! Basically, the idea is to put a few different items into a box that you only bring out for a nursing session. Our box will use a couple of the ideas above to include:

  • Two books
  • Two sticker books
  • DVD
  • A couple of small jigsaw puzzles and games we have
  • A couple of DIY matching puzzles
  • Some snacks and drinks!

I’ll only bring this out a couple of times a week for ToddlerGirl to select from, to keep the novelty factor of the contents.

12. Games you can play from the sofa
I love the suggestions in this article on Moving Smart for keeping your pre-schooler moving when you’re too pregnant (or exhausted!) to play, which I’m going to print out and keep as a reminder. These are all great as they are more active, so will hopefully suit my very energetic girl!

Do you have any other suggestions for easy, low prep, low mess quiet time activities? I’d love to hear them if you do. 


Why blog?

I’ve just realised that it’s my sort of one year blogaversary this month. I say ‘sort of’ because it’s not totally straightforward setting a date for when I first started blogging!

Why blog?

When ToddlerGirl was a baby, I started writing blog posts in my head, usually as I was sitting with her sleeping on me or as I was walking around the park trying to get her to go to sleep (sense a theme there?). The imaginary articles were all about making sense of this parenting journey that I was on; the joy of watching my baby girl develop each week, the things that were far tougher than I imagined. They didn’t actually make it onto paper (screen) at that point as I was far too sleep deprived to do anything other than get through the essential day to day activities.

When ToddlerGirl was one-ish, I decided to get my mummy musings out of my head and wrote my first blog post. I followed it up with quite a few more – but all without actually publishing them on a blog! I stored them up in Word documents until I got to the point last July where I realised that I wanted to embark on this blogging adventure properly. So, I set myself up on WordPress, spent a long time transferring my unpublished blog posts over and became a fully fledged mummy blogger.

And I love blogging. I love making time to sit down and write. I love thinking of new posts to write about.

Sometimes, though, it can be hugely frustrating. Frustrating because I am a perfectionist and have a whole list of things I’d like to do to improve my blog that I never have the time to address, and an awful lot of imaginary posts that I don’t get round to writing.

It can also be disheartening. Disheartening to have a desire to grow the blog and see where it takes me but not to be able to do this as well as I would like. Or to compare to other, more established blogs with huge audiences and money making potential and think, “Hey, I’d like a piece of that!”

It can be a chore. To keep up with a regular publishing schedule on top of daily life. To be active on various social media channels.

When I start having these negative reactions to blogging, I know I need to take a step back from it and ask myself the question: “Why blog?”

Do I want to be a well known blogger with amazing stats and opportunities to earn an income from it and an awards roll call and all of that malarkey? Umm… Yes, to be honest, I would absolutely love that!

But is that why I started this blog? No. That version of my blog future is a pleasant little daydream but it’s not how I see myself making a living if I am being realistic.

I blog primarily because I love to write. I enjoy the small slice of ‘me time’ working on my blog provides. I like having an online project to dabble in while I am taking a break from my career. I find it fun to come up with new article ideas. (I made my own little magazines as a child that only my Mum ever looked at and this blog is probably some sort of extension of that!)

One day in the not too distant future, I plan to make the whole ‘work from home’ idea a reality. I have another online project up my sleeve that I am much more likely to make money from and I have been waiting for the moment to do something with it. This blog, although really just my hobby, has been an excellent training ground for my future plans.

Best of all, though, it’s lovely to look back and read about the activities ToddlerGirl and I have done, the anecdotes from our daily lives that I may otherwise have forgotten.

So, that’s why I blog. These are the reasons I need to remind myself of when I am getting a bit too caught up in it all. I’m having to repeat them to myself often at the moment, as I start to wonder how frequently I’ll be able to write come the autumn, when I am learning to be a mum to not one, but two…

This post is my reminder not to worry about how regularly I’m posting, whether my stats level off, the blog ‘to do’ list that will no doubt be my very last priority soon.

It’s my reminder that I am proud of my little blog wherever the adventure takes me next and why I will celebrate my ‘sort of’ one year blogiversary – with a bar of chocolate and a cheeky glass of something nice! Cheers!

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com


Playing ball with babies

What would feature in your top five toys for babies? I can think of a few different candidates but a simple ball would have to be a hot favourite for us. They have provided hours of entertainment for us – here are a few simple ways to play ball with babies.

Playing ball with babies

Include some interesting balls in a treasure basket
We have a small bouncy ball filled with gorgeous glitter and a wonderfully soft and colourful ball with a bell inside that I added to our treasure basket when ToddlerGirl was teeny. She loved to watch the sparkly glitter waft around, squish the soft ball and jingle the bell, although I had to be careful with them both as she also loved putting everything in her mouth! I’ve since come across this blog post from another mum who has a whole collection of different shaped balls for her babies to explore, which is a great idea for an easy sensory basket.

Create a homemade ball pit
Babies and children love ball pits. I can understand why; I enjoy the sensation of sinking into all the balls myself, it’s a bit like being in a dry Jacuzzi! It’s easy to make a homemade version with a cheap inflatable paddling pool and a couple of bags of coloured balls. We’ve used ours outdoors in the garden as an alternative to water and indoors to entertain visiting kiddies at parties. I also used to empty them into the playpen every so often and they were enough of a novelty to keep my then BabyGirl happy in there for some time while I made dinner!

Posting balls
ToddlerGirl used to love to post her balls into her playpen, out of her playpen, over the edge of the sofa – it’s amazing how much entertainment this can provide! I made a few containers especially for the posting of balls: a cereal box or a clean plastic milk carton with holes cut into them are easy to make and work really well.

Play chase
This was a really good game when ToddlerGirl first started crawling. I would roll the ball to the other side of the living room and we’d then ‘race’ to see who could get there first. This could go on for quite a while, with ToddlerGirl giggling and squealing joyfully as we crawled round and round the room and she beat Mummy to the ball. Just the best sound in the world. And pretty good for tiring her out on a rainy day too.

Throw the ball and roll the ball
Once ToddlerGirl was a bit older, we progressed to throwing and rolling the balls. Flinging the little coloured ball-pit balls into our dining room would keep her occupied for maybe half an hour at a time; it was a bit of a pain to collect them up but anything that buys that amount of playtime is worth it in my book. We also used to roll the ball to each other. The rolling was a bit wonky at her end to start with but over time she got a lot more control, so I figure this is also a good exercise in hand-eye coordination. I used to sing a little song to go along with the game, which we learnt at our music group: “I roll the ball to BabyGirl, she rolls the ball to me… Roll the ball, roll the ball, roll the ball to me…”

Other ideas
We also made our own version of a ball run with kitchen roll tubes and cardboard boxes, which went down very well – even just providing a slope for a ball to roll down is fascinating for babies!

Once ToddlerGirl got a little older, I started to incorporate some sorting games with our ball collection, talking about colour, shape, size etc. Basically, the possibilities for ball play are endless!

Brilliant balls

A simple ball will provide hours of fun but there are also some really lovely balls for babies on the market with ‘added extras’, such as bells, rattles and even ribbons and tags to add a sensory element.

Here are a few we like:

For more baby play ideas, take a look at my Activities for Babies & Younger Toddlers board on Pinterest.


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