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Mama of two; what to do?

When I had our second baby, I recall feeling stretched thin from both ends. It was like one child was pulling one arm (actually, she was nursing the heck outta me, so she was really pulling something else), and our other child (who was a 3-year old then) was pulling my other arm. Hard. It was a constant juggle, and it definitely took quite a bit of time to adjust to being a mama of two. Lydia asks for suggestions from the urbanMamas community:

I have a new baby, 5 weeks today. He has a big sister who just turned two. We're doing pretty well, thanks, all things considered, but I am dying to get out of the house more! Problem is, my daughter, being two, can be "uncooperative" when it's time to leave, or stay close by while I nurse, or whatever. Any ideas about what we could do? I need places where the big girl can be a little contained if I need to nurse or something. The one thing I can think of is the Portland Children's museum where there's an infant area with a gate, and nobody will mind if baby fusses a little while I shepherd everybody in there. Indoor play parks are also a possibility, I guess, except my daughter loves the trampoline most and I probably shouldn't spot with a baby on my chest. Advice from other experienced moms of two? Should I just stay home (please no!)?

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Rose City Indoor Park in NE! We started going just before my second daughter was born (oldest was 20mo.) What a lifesaver. I've made some great friends (as have my daughters) and 3 days a week I have someplace safe/dry to take the girls.
The hours are Tu/TH/Fr from 9:30-11:30am. (we're headed there this morning!) It's just south of 62nd and Sandy, in the basement of Faith Lutheran Church.

Mine are just 23 months apart and with my youngest being 8 weeks old, we haven't ventured out by ourselves too many times yet either so I don't have too many suggestions. I second the indoor park idea and there are always fun classes available through community centers. Have you done the toddler story hour at the library? We just started going to our and it is a lot of fun.

I visited Urban Grind when my little guy was weeks old so his brother could get some play time in. Big brother was 3.5 though, so he usually has pretty good "listening ears." For the most part I made him sit and eat a snack while I nursed and then the little guy fell asleep so I could play with big brother more (I had the carseat for the little one to sleep in). I also had luck at the sellwood open play which I think is on Mondays at Sellwood Community center. Once the wee one was asleep, I could help big brother play with others. I think with the weather improving, you will have more play park options if you're wearing the little one. Good luck finding what works for your family! And Congrats on your new addition :)

Indoor park saved my sanity in your situation. I'm sure another mama would be willing to spot your dd for the trampoline. I would have!

I also recommend a mellow, church basement type indoor park. They're small (contained) and lots for the 2-year old to do. Perfect for two kids. Changing table, bathroom, snack area, etc... The one I went to was in the basement of the NE Central Lutheran Church (NE 21st just off B'way), conveniently in the same building as our Music Together class, so we could park once, go to music, then run downstairs and play in the indoor park for an hour or two. There are some dues and responsibilities (clean-up monthly, etc...), but they are minor and likely well worth it when you need a contained but fun place to handle two kids under 2!

I like Sip&Kranz in NW. It has a small playroom for your older child and a you can definatly nurse there (and eat some lunch). OMSI also has a "under 5" kids play area which could work out for you. Good thing that the weather is getting better, there are so many places to go outside, the zoo, the park or just for a walk.

Getting out of the house is a must to keep your sanity!

This is a great link to find indoor and outdoor activities in oregon: http://www.oregonmom.com/

boy have I been there! Everett was two-and-a-half when Truman was born, but still a truly outrageous challenge, and now I'm expecting a child in July, when Truman will be just older than two.

I definitely took advantage of every opportunity to get out of the house *without* Everett, slinging Truman along with me, so if you've got a friend or relative who can watch your daughter for an hour or two (or take her to OMSI along with their own child -- thank the heavens and my brother for my wonderful sister-in-law, who did that for me often in the weeks after Truman was born.

I also took frequent advantage of a nearby coffee shop where the baristas, the clientele, and the owner were kind enough to help keep an eye for me. plus, they (gladstone coffee on 38th and gladstone if you're nearby!) have a lovely backyard where you can pretty much keep the child locked up. and anywhere you can push a stroller right up and (most importantly) not unbuckle your older child is a godsend. in my neighborhood, that could be anything from the coffeeshop to the dairy queen on 56th and division (hey, i'll take whatever i can get, and no one ever complained about a nice dipped ice cream cone ;). though it's not really going *to* a place, walks in a double stroller, or with baby in a carrier and the older child in a single stroller, can be great.

i'm in favor of small parks like piccolo (btw 27th and 28th, clinton and division), where your child can run off but always be in view, and where other parents are generally helpful. since i'm very near cleveland high school, we often spent time at their track, where it's hard for a two-year-old to run far enough that you can't see 'em.

i also took heavy advantage of playdates with friends who could do double duty and chase after everett if i was in the middle of a particularly sleepy breastfeeding session. it takes a village you know!

and when all else fails, wear the baby. i can't count the number of times i've run after everett with truman bouncing along in sling or mei tie. it's not ideal, but it's better than staying cooped up at home.

I've been to various indoor playparks around PDX too, and I would have been happy to spot your kid on the trampoline or even happier to hold your baby. I think other moms are happy to help if asked, and it's probably only shyness that keeps us from offering help otherwise.

It is a struggle a lot of the time, but don't worry, everyone has been there with the uncooperative 2 y.o.

Picking up on something Sarah mentioned, sometimes it just comes down to using the stroller as a physical restraint. When my youngest was really small, I could carry her easily in a sling while pushing her older brother in the stroller. Often he would sleep in the stroller while I took nursing breaks at the park, zoo, or wherever; or he would remain content with the scenery. And when all else failed, at least he was buckled in. (Later, we transitioned to an amazingly wonderful Phil & Ted stroller with my son in the main front seat and my daughter in the attachable rear seat. This continued to work well, since it was easy to take the baby out for nursing breaks without disturbing my son.)

I second Urban Grind coffee shop near ne 21st and sandy. They have a few different playrooms there that sound like a good fit for you guys.

I have 3 children (ages 4yrs, 2.5 yrs and 1.5 yrs) and currently due with number 4 in August. I refuse to stay at home! What worked for me was keeping the first few outings short and asking for assistance. We also made sure everything was packed the night before to make it easier for me to leave the house. My son quickly learned that if he listened to me the visits were longer and if he threw a tantrum it ended quickly. Setting up outings with other moms can make it easier too!

Not sure if you are willing to drive out to Lake Oswego, but the Play Boutique http://playboutique.com is an indoor play area. I don't mind the drive since my little ones get tired from playing and I don't feel tired from trying to watch their every little move. I also get to check my email and have a cup of coffee.

Hope that helps!

Malls usually have little indoor play areas that you can take advantage of, they are enclosed and padded, you can nurse in there and your 3 year old can jump all over everything!! Then maybe a trip to the toyshop to play and then viola!

(i don't much like malls but they have saved my sanity with their play areas a few times while I was a nursing mom with a 3 year old, myself.)

Thanks everybody. Some good ideas...it probably comes down to practice and confidence, in the end. I remember how scary getting out with one new baby used to seem, and then one day I just kind of had the hang of it. It will probably be much the same with the two. I'm just worried about keeping everybody safe when I'm distracted and sleep-deprived - so picking outings that minimize stress is important.

It's also clear that I need a better stroller. Better start begging the relatives...the Phil and Teds looks like exactly what I want but pretty pricey.

Thanks again!

When our second daughter was still a babe, it was easy enough to tote her around in the sling or stroller while big sis ("ate") played at the playground and did bigger kid stuff. Jaunts out with two kids take SO MUCH longer than jaunts out with one, and adjusting to life with two was a big deal for us. For me, what helped is making excursions as easy as possible: walks down the street to the park was the easiest so the little one could stay snuggled in the carrier or stroller. Also, finding a good park where you can keep an eye on the older child is key. And, when the younger one gets older, parks with good play areas that are good for younger toddlers and also for older children are helpful.

I would echo suggestions of indoor playparks at community centers and also urban grind in the NE.

It probably comes down to practice and confidence, in the end.

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