Five ways to simplify...
#1: Designate safe places for baby to sleep during the day. Before delivery think about where baby will be sleeping during the day. The two things to keep in mind are what baby will be in and if your toddler will have access to baby. For napping, I love the Rock 'N Play (I have an older version which does not vibrate and it still gets the job done). The rock 'n play snuggles the baby which promotes longer naps in my experience. Other great options are a bassinet or elevated Moses basket which have the added benefit of placing baby completely out of toddler's reach or a swing. Floor swings can be precarious and you want to carefully consider where to place one. Utilizing gates or a gated play area to keep your toddler away from baby is another option but should ideally be in use for a while before you bring baby home so your toddler is used to the gates and doesn't feel like being placed in a gated area is punishment. Also consider where you will be feeding baby as it will be easiest for you to place a nap area nearby. To promote good day/night regulation, you ideally want the nap area to be well lit (or even sunny!) and exposed to daily household noises.
Here's Lucas catching some sun and a nap in the rock 'n play and Henry showing the flaw (toddler accessible) of the rock 'n play:
#2: Teach your toddler not to touch the baby that first day. You want to instill this lesson as early as possible. You will have more or less luck with this depending on age. My 21-month old learned immediately "Don't touch the baby." But after two weeks, he will still test this on occasion. The down side of the rock 'n play is that it is at a level which my toddler can reach in and poke at his brother. Never leave your toddler and baby unattended in the same area.
Here's Henry getting introduced to Lucas...
And Henry getting bored and hopping down to do this...
More brother introduction time...
#3: Arrange for only the help you need. There is such a thing as too much activity in your home! Peace and quiet is at a premium when you have a newborn and a toddler so you want to have resources which give you the help you need while still allowing for that quiet time. My in-laws were in town visiting to help and took care of our toddler while we were in the hospital. My mother and father in-law and husband were great at keeping our toddler entertained and making sure he stayed on his schedule. Keeping your toddler on schedule should ensure peaceful naps and bedtimes for your toddler. My mother in-law also prepared dinner for us most nights which was invaluable! My toddler really liked her food, she is an excellent cook. My father in-law likes washing dishes (he claims it aids with digestion after a meal) and this was also a huge help.
Fun toddler play time with the grandparents and Henry enjoying his new whale book:
#4: Breast feed (or bottle feed) strictly on-demand. I'm a firm believer in not trying to schedule baby too early. You'll notice my Baby Schedules didn't start until my first son was 4 months old. During maternity leave, I allow my baby to eat and nap strictly on-demand. If he is rooting around I feed him, even if he just ate an hour before. To me, this is prime growing time and I want to provide baby with all the food and sleep he wants. If you are breast feeding, feeding on-demand also promotes development of a solid milk supply.
#5: Take a vacay from social media. This is an easy one as you have so much else to do! Outside of sending some cute photos to friends and family, take a social media holiday. Spend the time cuddling your baby, playing with your toddler, and getting a nap in yourself. Sleep deprivation is a real thing and prioritizing allows you to enjoy this wonderful family bonding time!
On to my big mistake...
Doing too much too soon. I had very little pain compared to my first c-section and I made the mistake of doing too much too soon after going home.
Although I did remember to not pick up my toddler, by day 3 at home I was carrying my newborn up and down the stairs and spending much more time on my feet than was good for me. The issue became clear when at one week post-surgery I started having some slight bleeding from my incision site. This was my first wake up call.
Whether you had a c-section or a vaginal delivery, treat yourself gently your first few weeks at home and reassess how your body is doing. With a vaginal delivery, you can certainly increase your activity as tolerated. Even though they are such a common procedure now, C-sections are still major abdominal surgery and should be treated as such!
My second wake up call was when we tried to walk to our neighborhood's nature trail to take pictures and I realized I simply could not walk that far. We took this family pic in the backyard instead:
Please share! What do you remember most about bringing home your baby?