DEAR Readers: A lot of sympathetic moms responded with experience and ideas for Upset Mommy, Ft. Garry who has a baby and a toddler, and is going out of her ever lovin' mind with stress. Here are two of the most helpful answers offered:
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My boys are almost 21/2 years apart. When the second child came along, I could tell that the older one was feeling left out. I explained that babies require extra time and attention because they can't do the things big boys can do, but that doesn't mean I love either one any less or any more. I gave the older boy as much attention as I could. I also asked if he could help with his younger brother by showing him how to play with toys and keep him away from danger, just like I showed him when he was "little." He helped with the potty training, climbing up and down stairs and showed his little brother what not to touch. He felt like a big boy and loved it. As they grew, any of their disagreements were all channeled through me. I'd explain to each what the other was going through. To this day, they're very close and have never fought or even argued. Children understand a lot more than they are often given credit for -- talking and helping them understand the situations has worked for me. -- Hope This Helps, The Interlake
Dear Hope: I also brought up two boys, and they were only 18 months apart. There was understandable jealousy in the beginning. In fact, the toddler pointed at the new baby in my arms, walked over to the car seat on the floor, and yelled "PUT IT!" At first it was difficult, and sometimes I cried like Upset Mom, when they were both still babies and demanding, but calling in help from the nieces and cousins and neighbours helped bring sanity back into our lives. They say it takes a village to raise a child, so we added as many nice people to our tiny kids' lives as we could. Once a month or so we'd invite other couples with babies and toddlers to come over and we'd just sit there and watch them play and congratulate ourselves we were surviving. It's wonderful to have company who bring pot luck and understand kiddie culture, as restaurants are not very fond of tiny kids making a ruckus.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I am a stay-at-home mom of four boys. When my second, third and fourth boys came along, I made sure I included them in as many tasks to help me out with the newborn, such as getting me a clean diaper. The boys loved to help at bath time. I made sure to thank them for being such big helpers for Mommy and brag to other people when I knew they could hear me. When I would receive a gift for the newborn, I'd have gifts from the dollar store for the older kids on hand. If you include the other child in most of the things you do for the newborn, they don't show a lot of jealousy and feel proud they can help. My oldest is now 21 and youngest is 14. I'm proud to say they do help each other out and other people, too. They have been known to help pull/push cars out of ditches and shovel driveways and leave without being paid or refuse to be paid. -- Mom of Four Grown Boys, Winnipeg
Dear Mom: Sounds like it all worked out well in the end, although there'd be challenging times along the way with four boys in seven years. Upset Mommy seems overwhelmed and isolated. It's sometimes daunting to pack up a baby and a toddler and take them anywhere, though sometimes you just need to get out of the house. Twin strollers can help with mobility of two little ones and babysitters can take them out for walks in the spring while a tired mom naps or showers or reads or goes out as an adult person with some independence again.