When I was pregnant I kept looking for information on what it was actually like transitioning to a family of four, particularly with two little ones close in age. Somehow I only found blog posts from later on, nobody it seems had time? energy? desire to remember? the newborn stage. So here goes, one month in:
For the first two weeks as a family of four we had lots of help. The grandmothers took turns getting up with our toddler and keeping him occupied most of the day. M had some slack in his schedule and so even without a housekeeper we were keeping things together. I, of course, was mostly on baby duty nursing around the clock and keeping other tasks to a minimum (getting together meals for Little Boy, doing some laundry). But once we were officially without any help it became clear that we were not in a great place.
first time in the double stroller
At 2.5 weeks and 20.5 months: Baby Brother was nursing often, making us worried by holding his bowel movements until he was diaper free, and having some tummy issues as he was obviously uncomfortable but we weren't sure why. Little Boy meanwhile, was acting defiant and destructive, taking advantage of less supervision to act out. He regressed on potty training, and being out of his usual routine was taking a toll on him. To top it off he was fighting off a virus.
Behind the scenes, M and I were tired, running on little and very broken up sleep. The house was falling into disarray as we were without any help and there just weren't enough hours in the day for cleaning anything more than the minimal dishes. I felt like I was running a laundromat and seriously getting annoyed with trying to train a new incompetent housekeeper while taking care of the boys, and M was getting behind in his work. The house was driving us nuts and Little Boy's antics needed taking care of ASAP. We formulated a plan to stop interviewing housekeepers and focus as much as possible on Little Boy.
By the following week, three of us were doing significantly better. Little Boy was mostly back to his cheery self. The mommy-time complete with routine and discipline was obviously doing him good. We were still struggling with some throwing and hitting, usually while I was busy nursing, but there was already significant improvement. We would still need to get back on the potty train, but for now we weren't pushing the issue. Baby Brother's tummy was improving too. We were thinking that it is probably a dairy and chocolate intolerance. He was slightly congested and sneezing but we felt he was most likely fighting off that same virus. I had one day of complete zombie-ness but other than that was doing much better on the broken sleep. My main challenge was figuring out how to occupy Little Boy N while nursing and I was getting the idea that I really needed to vary my distractions*. By Friday I managed a walk to the park with both boys on my own. It was encouraging. Only poor M was still not getting much done!
Just before the one month mark we made one more big change to help re-organize: we pushed back Little Boy's schedule (9 to 9 instead of 8 to 8) to make it easier on me in the morning (take care of Baby Brother then get Little Boy) and consequently giving M a longer stretch to be away from the house before the afternoon/evening meltdowns begin. So far that has been working well, and while not perfect, all of us seem to be functioning just a little bit better.
So the first month was not a walk in the park, but really it hasn't been bad. I know that one day I will forget about Little Boy's "no, no, no" days and remember the sweet way he kisses his baby brother, the perfectly calm sleeping baby in my arms and the dance parties in our living room. It is wonderful being a family of four and we're ready for whatever big adventure tomorrow holds.
*Sometimes I set him up with an activity beforehand, i.e. play dough start playing together and then mommy "takes a break" for a bit, if it's close to a meal time I might serve him food and then sit beside him while he eats, or I just pull out some books and get him to come sit next to me.