Thursday, August 8, 2013

babywise friendly blog network: maintaining structure with siblings

Once upon a time, I stumbled upon a blog called Chronicles of a Babywise Mom.  (And by "stumbled upon," I mean, out of pure desperation and tears in the newborn phase, searched frantically for any kind of advice or assurance or anything to make me feel like I wasn't totally doing everything wrong.)  I found sample schedules, answers on sleep issues, information on reflux, reader polls, etc.  The amount of information on this site really is helpful and it saved me many-a-time.  Truly, Valerie's blog is a big part of why I decided to start blogging about my own experiences with Babywise.  I knew it might help someone else, and that was worth it.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago - I get an email from Valerie asking me to be a part of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network.  It's made up of 6 other bloggers who use Babywise and are encouraging their readers in all things motherhood-related.  I'm honored to be a part of this group!

You'll continue to hear about and from these folks throughout the year.  As for today, we are all sharing guest posts on each others' blogs.  I wrote a post entitled "how to know your child is ready for piano lessons" on Valerie's blog today.  So hop on over and check it out!

On my blog, you'll be hearing from Bethany Lynch (The Graceful Mom).  I mentioned to her that I'd love to hear about how Babywise works with 2 kids in a family.  She has some great tips and a lot of encouragement to offer.  Enjoy!

"Maintaining Structure with Siblings"

My husband and I had Babywise recommended to us by several friends and family members. We knew right away that we identified with the structure and the parent-directed philosophy. I read a few other books and also incorporated a little from each, but Babywise was largely the "method" we identified with the most if we had to describe our approach.

As a first-time mom, I thought incorporating routine was difficult with our son. Little did I know what an easy baby he was! The first few months were hard for me but perseverance completely paid off. After the newborn period (and once we were all better rested and sleeping through the precious night), life was amazing. Everyone was shocked that he was such a good sleeper. It literally took a few minutes to put him to sleep and he was happy even if he woke a little early. Much of that is his disposition, but he was such a completely different child when he was rested vs. overtired. We made some significant life decisions to take him out of daycare and find a nanny share so that we could maintain the structure and sleep that he needed.

Fast forward a year and life was still crazy good. We had an uber happy toddler. Even as working parents outside the home, we knew that he would eat/play/sleep at the same times, that he would have 1:1 attention all day, that his activities were well structured, and that he would likely take a 3 hour nap every single day. There are many ways to achieve the same things, but Babywise worked well for us. We had no doubt that we would use the same methods when our second child came along...and she came along right on time! We had always liked the idea of spacing our children approximately 2 years apart and oddly enough it actually happened.

Instead of relief, I was terrified :) It had sounded like such a good idea, but how in the world was I going to have two in diapers, get up in the middle of the night/work/care for a toddler, decide whose cry to answer first, etc. It would be fair to say that I was quite panicked. As I approached my due date, I almost felt more anxiety than not knowing what to expect.

Fast forward again to today and I would never, not ever change a thing. I adore my kids being the ages they are and the distance apart. There were some intense moments, a few frantic phone calls to my husband while I was on maternity leave, and still moments where I have to walk outside and count to 10...slowly. The overwhelming saving grace was having a strong structure in place. My day.just.worked. It is very manageable to have both kids on a routine, even different routines, and the one thing I hear from every "Babywise mom" that has multiple children is that routine makes it possible. Some of the tips/tricks that helped us:

  • Don't be afraid to answer the simplest need first, even if it means putting the more intense needs of the newborn on hold for a minute. For example, we put my daughter to bed first but she cried every single night. Reading, saying prayers, and tucking my son in bed was and is one of the highlights of my entire day (no, not just because he is calm!!). Taking time to tuck him in took way less time than patting and shushing my daughter. So she fussed for a few minutes before getting my full attention.
  • Sleep training with multiple children is doable, especially with a newborn. Yes, there were a few times the whole family was up in the middle of the night, but because my son had such a strong sleep structure in place, he hardly ever required more than a simple explanation that his sister needed to fuss (ok, scream) sometimes so she could learn to sleep as good as he does. I certainly understand some kids do not simply go back to sleep as easily, but in our experience, all he needed was reassurance that she was ok. For her nap times, I just moved his schedule around so that he was either in room time, overlapping nap times (yay!!!), or doing a quiet(er) activity like puzzles, books, or playing on the front porch.
  • Make sure your toddler still has one on one time and sufficient exercise. I am a big proponent in spending one on one time with every single child that is brought into the family, with parents together and with each parent alone. Increasing individual time with a child has drastically improved behavior and attitude, and I feel that it made the transition from 1-2 so much easier when my son knew that he and I would block out time every single afternoon. To make sure he was sufficiently tired enough to sleep, I often sacrificed the last nap/catnap of the day. We'd go for a walk or to the park. Usually she would fall asleep in the stroller or carrier and get enough of a catnap to make it through the evening.
  • Do not slack off on rules and routine with your toddler to make up for bringing a new sibling home. Even though I had a dear friend that warned me in advance, it is so easy to put the routine and schedule and even bad behavior on the back burner. Yes, there will likely be extra visitors and interruptions but do not loosen up on first-time obedience or condone/blame bad behavior on having a new baby. You will have much less backtracking to do if your expectations remain the same. Keeping that special alone time I mentioned above also assures your toddler that although things have changed, their place in the family and family rules have remained the same. Toddler also thrive on structure so following Babywise with two kids really can help make the transition for both kids successful.
  • If you haven't read Toddlerwise or Pre-toddlerwise, now is the time. Don't forget about the sequential books because I think they are even more important "long-term" after understanding the -Wise premise and wake/eat/play of the infant period in Babywise. The Babywise book makes the newborn period and the addition of other newborns easier, but the next few books can really make a difference in sanity and family philosophy.
  • Breathe. Easier said than done, but take as many moments whenever you can to simply enjoy the ages your children are at currently. This will hold true for years to come but it is especially important in these early years. Two in diapers and 1+ not sleeping through the night can bring you to your knees, but take people up on their offers to help. Take a nap or run to Starbucks. Staying refreshed and rested will bring a new perspective to a seemingly old, no light-at-the-end-of-the tunnel situation. If you are like me, know that even a few weeks out of the newborn period are when things really start to even out, schedules align, and life can be so sweet. Take it all in...even when you don't think you can possibly change an inhumane number of diapers in a single day. Babywise with multiple children truly simplified things for me and made our life so predictable, enjoyable, and doable.

Bethany is a full-time, working outside the home mom to a 5 year boy and a 3 year old daughter. She blogs at The Graceful Mom and strives to encourage and inspire other working moms.


  1. Woot woot that is so cool Claire! What a great time for you to be a part of!

  2. exciting Claire! what a great group of women!

    and great guest-post.. Great tips I don't want to forget (when the time comes..) I'm bookmarking this! :)

    1. Thanks! It's fun to be a part of!

      And yes, I fully plan on re-reading this later (when the time comes, of course ... :))


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