How can I cope with a fussy new baby when my toddler seems to be out of control?
I am going to say something controversial, but, I hope, freeing. . . It is not your job to make your children (either of them) happy.
You have a fussy baby. You need to meet his needs, but making him not fussy cannot be your goal – it will consume you. You have a toddler who also needs you and cannot wait until the fussy baby isn’t fussy. If he is going to cry whether you are holding and rocking or whether you lay him down to bathe your daughter, lay him next to you in a bouncy chair, sing to him, and bathe your daughter.
I understand that you are overwhelmed. You have endured so much from the birth to the breastfeeding to the . . . everything! This period of adjustment is hard under the best of circumstances!
And yet. you can’t expect your little girl to suddenly adjust to all of this chaos any more than you have been able to. You will need to take charge here. It will help if you can pray about a very simple routine. Is there a time of day that the baby is less fussy? Blitz through throwing something in the crock pot for dinner! Start your day, every day, by taking two minutes to put actual clothes on and brush your teeth and hair. You will feel, and act, better. Make a commitment to read one book to your daughter, or play for five minutes. Do you have a swing? Let the swing give the baby his motion during the few minutes that you stop to correct your daughter.
Little baby steps of change will help you. Don’t think in terms of the overwhelming day; think of this minute and what you need to do. You may need to set your son down to enforce your words to your daughter. Do it. It will be worth it, and you won’t be spending the next year trying to undo bad habits and anger issues.
You may also need to explore if you are suffering from Postpartum Depression. I know that many moms (especially breastfeeding and naturally minded moms) resist going on medication for PPD. Having suffered through PPD (I didn’t know until after the fact that it was PPD), I would strongly encourage you to get some help. There are natural things that can help. There are things your doctor can prescribe that will help. You don’t have to feel so overwhelmed, even in such an overwhelming situation.
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