Ugh! Sleep! It becomes the number one parenting conversation when that gorgeous little bundle becomes earth side. So what happens when you have two wee ones to synchronise? Here, mummy of two Phoebe Burgess explains her tricks for managing her newborn and toddler’s sleep routines…
Baby steps: Was it difficult to establish a routine with your toddler, Poppy and newborn, Billy, in those early days?
Yes! At the start of this two children thing, everything was a challenge! It’s learning to juggle two of everything. Billy has ended up being my flexible baby and Poppy needs her routine or the whole household suffers! I got very good at settling Billy and getting Poppy down or distracting Poppy (with a book, colouring or even the iPad upstairs in my room next to Billy’s room) while I settled him. Some nights, all routine went out the window and we’d have a big sleepover in my bed and it was just about surviving the night. We’d get up and try it all again.
Sleeping beauties: How did you synchronise their sleep routine?
My major aim was always trying to get them both down at that midmorning mark so I could have an hour, or an hour and half if I’ve timed it really well to myself. (Well, to take care of basic hygiene or lie on the bed and waste the precious time on Instagram ha ha! Anything to recharge my batteries is what I’d do.) The juggle was difficult when they would tag team for sleeps.
Magic formula: What sleep routines worked best?
Since both Billy and Poppy were born, I have had the same bedtime routine in place, which I find is the perfect end to a chaotic and busy day: the Johnson’s 3 step bedtime routine which includes a warm bath, gentle massage and quiet time like reading a book. Although it takes time to cement a routine into your children’s day, it’s now something that both my kids look forward to, as well as being one of my favourite times of the day.
Having a go-to routine in place helps the kids start to recognize when it’s nearly bedtime and is a great way to start the evening and wind down for all of us.
We start with a bath, full of bubbles, beautiful smells, chatting, learning and lots of fun.
Then we roll Poppy and Billy up in their towels and go into the warm, dimly lit bedroom (making sure it’s nice and cosy!) for a massage and book time – Poppy usually hijacks the book and reads to Billy… it melts my heart! Once we’ve had a read, it’s bedtime.
This is such a special time for me each day; watching my kids interact during our bedtime routine makes every challenge throughout the day worth it.
Something that I find super important in this routine is the time we set aside for a massage after the bath. I use the new Johnson’s CottonTouch face & body lotion, which is great for both Billy and Poppy and fills the room with a soothing aroma, putting the kids in a mind frame for sleep and quiet time. Since becoming a mum, I’ve learnt that skin to skin bonding is so important for my babies’ development and mood and building this into your routine is a great way to ensure you are maintaining this bond. A quick tip to go alongside this 3 step routine also: use products that not only your kids love, but you do too! Make sure you’ve got yourself a gorgeous product with a nice velvety texture that makes the routine even better (and keeps your skin soft as well as bubs!). I’m always eager for a routine that works for all three of us!
Snug as a bug: Did you swaddle your babies?
The first time I swaddled Poppy at a day old, my little Houdini was out of it in about 20 seconds. I was too scared of making it too tight but the tighter the better! Her startle reflex was so strong she had to become our little burrito baby, always swaddled up tightly. Billy was a little more relaxed so we used a combo of swaddling and the Love to dream suits (amazing for mums on the go!).
Surprise! What surprised you the most about going from one baby to two?
To be honest, I was most surprised at myself. I discovered I am a lot more capable than I gave myself credit for with Poppy as a baby. Some days chaos rules and neither the kids or I have had a proper sleep, I’ve given them grated cheese to get by on the run, they might wear their pyjamas until 3pm, educational games are forgone for the iPad and I’ve eaten fish fingers with Poppy for dinner. But with two, I’ve learnt to give myself a break and reinforce my strength and capabilities instead of mentally beating myself up over a less than perfect day.
I’ve learnt to ask for help when I need it and own that instead of seeing it as a weakness. And my biggest surprise has been learning that my intuition is never wrong when it comes to my children, so I trust my gut to get me through tougher days. The biggest most beautiful surprise I have experienced with two children is that as mummies, or parents, our love knows no limits…. just when I think I couldn’t love something as much as Poppy, along came Billy and my heart just expanded.
Any other ‘one baby to two’ tips for other mums?
The best thing I ever did was get Poppy started on toilet training early. The newborn bubble was a great time to nail the training because life is already chaotic and messy! So what’s a little more chaos?!