When Mr. FAF and I found out that my mom couldn’t come to DC to help us with our second baby, we freaked out. Big time.
We still remembered those sleepless nights when our son was born 3.5 years ago.
We were sleep-deprived and exhausted, especially for the first few weeks, despite the help of my mother-in-law.
Now we would have a newborn AND an active toddler.
How are we going to handle all that with all the cooking, cleaning, and other chores around the house?
I Googled “How to take care of a newborn/infant and a toddler,” hoping that some parents out there had written on the topic so that I could learn from them.
I didn’t find much.
After a few weeks of navigating parenthood after the birth of our second baby, we are gradually forming a new schedule and division of labor that enables us to do just that: taking care of ourselves, a newborn, and a toddler. All on a budget.
We are not claiming to be experts on the matter and have to give a disclaimer that we are not professionals in terms of childcare and child rearing in any way.
I’m writing this post to give you all a glimpse of what goes on at the FAF household at the moment since many of how have asked me how we are doing.
On the first night when our baby got home, I stayed with her at night to nurse her and observe her behavior.
It turned out to be more exhausting than I thought since I was still in excruciating pain from the delivery. My uterus still contracted with great pain whenever I breastfed the baby.
My pelvic area was also severely sore from the birth and from sitting up to nurse Baby F2 for hours at night.
Mr. FAF checked on me at 4 AM and told me to go to bed, and that he would take over.
I had expressed some breast milk into a bottle with the help of an electric pump (free thanks to my insurance). Mr. FAF could feed the baby while I had some sleep.
Before our daughter was born, Mr. FAF said he wanted to be on night duty so that I could sleep at night and recover faster.
But I was worried about our baby on the first night and felt guilty for leaving her alone with Mr. FAF, so I insisted on staying.
The next morning, Mr. FAF was adamant about our division of labor. He would take care of our baby from midnight to early morning, and I would do the day shift.
I still wake up to pump 3 times at night (every two hours) and would feed our baby if she wakes up when I’m there. This division of labor enables me to rest at night and Mr. FAF to sleep more during the day so that neither of us would be sleep-deprived.
After about two weeks, we realized a pattern about our baby. If she sleeps a lot during the day, she tends to stay up 2-3 hours at night crying and wanting to be held, which can make either of us exhausted.
We finally decided to keep her up at least for 4-6 hours during the day since a newborn sleeps 16-17 hours each day. We tried the following methods:
— Wash her face with a warm cloth
— Change her diaper
— Let her cry for a bit so that she would be totally awake before feeding
— Give her a bath
Sometimes all of those methods just don’t work, and the baby just sleeps and wakes up whenever she pleases.
However, after implementing those strategies, our baby sleeps more at night, and we can get a rest when she does.
Another little person we need to take care of is our son, Baby F1.
Initially, I thought about pulling him out of daycare for the two months I’ll be at home with Baby F2 to save money (about $2,700 for two months). However, we decided not to for three reasons.
First, we knew we would be busy with our second baby during the first month. In the second month, Mr. FAF would return to work, and he didn’t want me to take care of both kids by myself at home since I’d have to go back to work after two months and need time to recover.
Second, after we told my son’s daycare we would like to send our daughter to their place when she’s about two months, the teacher decided to lower the tuition for my son by $65/week, which would save us about $260/month.
Third, we didn’t think it was good practice to pull our son out of the daycare temporarily since he might lose his spot to someone else.
During the first two weeks, Mr. FAF took over the duty of caring for our son, from preparing him breakfast/lunch/dinner, giving him a bath to taking him to daycare.
I was truly amazed at how fast Mr. FAF learned how to take care of our son since he rarely ever did any of that before we had our second baby. It was all my duty.
We really feel the work of having two kids, ironically, on the weekends, when Baby F1 is at home with us and wants attention from his parents. He’s also at the age where throwing tantrums and not listening to parents seems to be the norm, which can really tire us out sometimes.
During the first two weeks, Mr. FAF also took over all the household chores such as cooking, cleaning the floor and the bathroom, doing the dishes, and cleaning the milk bottles and pumping parts.
Some of the dishes that Mr. FAF made specifically for me: oxtail soup & black chicken
Seeing him overloaded and tired with housework, I offered to help, but he wouldn’t let me. He said that my priority for the first two weeks was to rest well and take care of our daughter during the day. He would take care of everything else.
This is the side of Mr. FAF that I had never seen before. When we had our son 3.5 years ago, my in-laws were in DC to help us out. Mr. FAF relied on them for almost everything around the house from cooking, cleaning, to taking care of our son after I gave birth.
However, now that we don’t have family around, he has stepped up and proved that he is a good dad and a good husband who knows how to take care of his family.
After two weeks, I started helping out with food prep, giving Baby F1 and Baby F2 a bath, taking Baby F1 to daycare, and doing the dishes, and washing the bottles.
Our daily schedule
Below is an example of our daily schedule. This is to give you a general idea of how we allocate our time to each task every day. The schedule varies on a daily basis.
I wake up, pump, and get Baby F2 ready for daycare. I change his clothes, prepare breakfast for him, and pack his lunch and snacks for school. I eat breakfast while waiting for Baby F1 to finish his.
If our daughter wakes up around this time, I will nurse her. It will take me longer to get Baby F1 ready for daycare.
Mr. FAF takes care of our baby at night, so I let him sleep in until he wakes up on his own.
During the first two weeks, Mr. FAF took our son to daycare. But now I take Baby F1 to daycare whenever we are done with his breakfast.
We try to get our baby to stay up so that she will sleep at night. Sometimes it doesn’t work, so Mr. FAF and I just do our own thing. I do laundry once every three days. Mr. FAF defrosts frozen food to cook and do other prep work or does his own coding work.
9 AM – 11:30 AM
I will nurse the baby whenever she needs it. Mr. FAF sometimes takes another nap, depending on how tired he is from the previous night.
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
We eat lunch.
I nurse Baby F2 and/or do the dishes.
Baby F2 usually sleeps during this time, so Mr. FAF and I also try to take a nap.
Baby F2 is up, so more nursing is needed. I also give her a bath once every 2-3 days depending on the weather. The pediatrician said babies’ skin doesn’t really get dirty, so we don’t have to give her a bath every day.
Mr. FAF starts making dinner while I try to keep Baby F2 up.
Mr. FAF goes to pick up our son from daycare.
6:30 – 7:30 PM
7:30 – 8:30 PM
I give our son a shower while Mr. FAF does the dishes and washes the milk bottles and pumping parts while keeping an eye on the baby.
Baby F1 is in bed. Mr. FAF goes to bed early to prepare for his night shift. I nurse our baby and go to bed whenever she falls asleep.
Midnight – 7 AM
Our baby wakes up two to three times at night to nurse. I pump breast milk into bottles and put them into a mini fridge in the baby’s room so that Mr. FAF can feed her milk whenever she wakes up. I also het up two to three times to pump for 5 minutes each time at night.
Having a new baby is both exciting and exhausting. As I mentioned in my labor story, I feel that our family is more complete than ever with the arrival of our baby girl.
Before and right after her birth, Mr. FAF and I totally expected to spend big money on food and whatever was needed for our family’s health and sanity.
However, having thought through and planned everything from months before the birth, Mr. FAF and I have also built a system that can keep us sane and frugal while taking care of our family of ourselves, our toddler and newborn.
I know that many parents can manage to do a much better job than we can when it comes to taking care of a big family.
However, I still want to share the little tips and tricks that we have in this hectic, tiring, yet happy times of our lives since I was searching for just that before we had our daughter.