In the last few months, several mama friends have become new mamas for the second or third time, and several times I have seen questions from them popping up on Facebook, wondering what in the world they are to do with their suddenly-so-much-bigger Bigs while they sit/nurse/tend to their newest Little. After responding to several of these threads in the same honest manner I hope to do here, I decided to dedicate a post to this issue because, frankly, I need to hear it, too.
Mamas, I hear you. I see you. I feel you. And here’s what I want to tell you: just go ahead and wave the white flag on the fight for perfection.
Before I went from One to Two, I tried to plan and prepare my house and my head for ways to keep my active 2yo occupied so I could nurse in semi-peace. I bought special toys and a special “nursing” basket in hopes that pulling it out only when I needed its help/distraction would do the trick.
No suck luck.
HD was just too little and needing too much direction/interaction/attention and was not about to be pacified by my quiet-but-productive-and-fun-but-educational attempt to occupy him while I breastfed RL.
So you know what I learned very quickly in those early months with Two? PBS is a new mama’s best friend. Still fun and educational while also quiet but engaging enough to satisfy all of us. In essence, it became the perfect solution to imperfection.
That’s right. I am publicly declaring the television as my No.1 aid in the great debate of What to do with my other kid(s) when I’m with the (new) baby?! Shame me if you want and kudos to you if you’ve found other ways to cope (some of you are awesome at reading while you nurse – that sometimes works for us, too, but most times the baby and I just need some space and some quiet) but I just want to throw it out there that maybe, just maybe it is OK if we don’t try to bury ourselves with mommy guilt over a little screen time to accomplish something as important as sitting down to nurse a new little person who needs attention.
Think about it. A typical PBS show is about 24 minutes long which is just about the perfect amount of time for a feeding, or at least enough to get their little tummies semi-full so you can move on to whatever the next task at hand is. And if you really want that space and quiet, set your rocker up in the room next to where the other child(ren) are hanging with Elmo or Peg or Daniel and focus on your baby.
I’m not saying you have to do this every time you need to feed during the day, but even if you did, it still wouldn’t add up to a super gross amount of screen time. [Psssst: even if it did, this too shall pass. You won’t always need the TV’s help (or Netflix or the Kindle, etc.) to entertain your other Littles so you can balance out the overall screen time then]. For real – don’t beat yourself up over this just because Pinterest or some parenting magazine or someone online implies that you should be able to be the perfect parent to all in the land at every moment of every day and that perfect means zero-TV time. Mama, you need to take care of yourself, too, and if a show can teach your kid to count or sing the ABCs while you feed his/her little brother/sister, then just go with it.
Of course, I am no expert. Feel free to bombard me with articles about how everything I’ve said here is wrong. Truman’s got me in an awful sleep pattern right now so I’m probably just going to cite sleep deprivation for all of this eventually, anyway, but until then (then meaning when I hopefully recover a few years-worth of sleep), my kiddos and I are going to be loving the heck out of our trusty helper, PBS!