I have a parenting confession: When my 3 month old has his first morning nap, I let my 3 year old have free reign of the iPad. It guarantees me an uninterrupted hour (as long as I also load her up with snacks) so that I can lie in bed with him, snuggling and enjoying those magical moments of him snoozing in my arms.
It's hard to appreciate those quiet moments with your first baby.
"He will only sleep in my arms!" I hear new, first time mother's lament. And every time I hear it I can't help but feel a pang of envy. How wonderful that must be, to be forced to lie there with your baby sleeping on you, without another small human screeching across the house: "muuum! I need some food!! Muuuuuuuuummmmmm!!! I'm STARVING!" (Note: she's not starving. She just inhaled a bowl of cereal, a plate of scrambled eggs, 2 tubs of yogurt and a banana. All this from a child who hated solids for her first 18 months of life. Careful what you wish for guys.)
I remember visiting a friend when her second baby was 6 weeks old. Her eldest daughter was not yet 2. As we sat together in her living room, she uttered what sounded like a dirty confession: "I have been letting her watch a lot of TV..."
I didn't understand the shame then, and I definitely don't understand it now.
I think we need to change the way we think about this situation:
You have a new baby. You have suddenly gone from the simplicity (unappreciated at the time, of course) of managing 1 child, to managing 2. The new baby needs you a lot. That's not to say the older child doesn't need you too, but they need you in different ways. And they can often understand that they have to wait - baby doesn't have that plug-in yet.
Therefore, if there is a way that you can make this time a little bit easier for everyone, I say take it.
I get that some parents would prefer their older child occupy themselves with books, or toys, or craft. But honestly, we have all day to do those things together (except for craft. This mummy doesn't do craft... another confession for you). Besides, without my participation, those activities will probably only buy me 10-15 minutes of peace. Mummy wants a full hour.
Your older child certainly won't complain about the opportunity to binge-watch “Hey Duggee" (and another confession: I might love that show even more than my toddler) and your new baby will benefit from all those cuddles and snuggles that your older child got to enjoy when she was a baby.
So, fellow mothers, stop feeling guilty. The early weeks and months are short. Enjoy the cuddles. And if you have to, let your older child enjoy some mindless entertainment… Guilt free!
Georgina Dowden is a mother, midwife and lactation consultant (IBCLC).
In her day to day life, she looks after her two beautiful children and also supports other families on their parenting journey.
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