Bringing home a new sibling is challenging. In order to maintain some sort of sanity I had to implement House Rule #1: Always Have A Kid With You.
Time management wasn’t an issue when I brought my first baby home. I was able to sit in the chair and nurse him around the clock. All of the other challenges of bringing a newborn home were there: I was tired, I lacked any sort of social life, personal hygiene, etc. But what I did when didn’t affect anyone else, like if I slept during the day or showered at 3 am.
Things were so different when we brought our second child home, now we had a two year old and a newborn. I had no idea how consumed my days would be. I was so sad that my two year old was getting such little attention from me and I had forgotten that breastfeeding in those first weeks is incessant.
Every minute mattered, particularly if the issue was a full bladder, a screaming child or a bodily fluid projected on someone or something and I truly watched the clock knowing that in X number of minutes my husband would be home.
When Sydney was about four weeks old my husband came in from work and said, “Ok let me just pour myself some Gatorade, use the bathroom, get changed and then I’m on.” Um…what? I have not showered, or even dressed. I’ve had one meal consisting of peanut butter and graham crackers.
It is six o clock and look around – the house is a mess. Sydney has been nursing all day long and Owen’s eyes are probably burning from watching so much PBS.
But, sure. You take your time. Grab a drink and by all means get yourself together. I can hold the baby for another ten minutes. When you’re ready, come on over and grab either the chimp suctioned to my breast or the pant-less wonder who is running around demanding that his nutritional requirements be met.
It was at this precise moment that I realized that if we were going to avoid destruction we needed to implement some house rules. The first and most important being: during this newborn stage, every minute that you are not working you must have a child with you.
If you need to stop at the hardware, liquor or grocery store after work, you must come home, get a child and take them with you. I too would enjoy a nice, long, hot, independent shower. It is not happening.
If you need to clean yourself, at least one of our offspring goes into the bathroom with you. This is our life now. We have a newborn and a two year old. Let’s get real.
It was a quantifiable, measurable decree. Are you working? No? Ok- do you have a kid with you? The question of course, was rhetorical.
Kris’s desire was to make life easier and make this transition smoother for our family. Though he believed me that being at home was the hardest job around he couldn’t understand what the days were like being alone with a newborn and a two year old.
Kris appreciated having a tangible way to make our family living easier. Rule #1 took some getting used to for both of us, but we were happy that we were able to identify such a seemingly small act that would make life so much better for everyone in our family.
Such strict ordinances wouldn’t last for long- we both knew that it would ease up once Sydney was out of the newborn stage. Now that she is, this rule has become habit. Sure, there are times now when I call Kris on his way home from work and kindly offer “well if you must stop for a bottle of wine I can continue to watch the kids while you do”, he is grateful for the opportunity, and fine, I am grateful for the wine.
But for the most part we feel that this was one of those early decisions that unintentionally and positively shaped our family dynamic.
What about you? Did you institute any house rules after you brought a new baby home?