Making It Work
The Second Time Around
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 14 No. 3, May-June 1997, pp. 85-6
We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.
"Making It Work" is a regular feature of the magazine NEW BEGINNINGS, published bimonthly by La Leche League International. In this column, suggestions are offered by readers of NEW BEGINNINGS to help mothers who wish to combine breastfeeding and working. Various points of view are presented. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise.
Returning to work with my first child went so smoothly. I expected it to be the same the second time around, but it's not. This baby wants a leisurely nursing in the morning and first thing when I arrive home. Plus, my toddler needs me. How can I juggle all these needs?
I was in the same situation with a breastfeeding infant and a demanding two-year-old. I would come home from work with my cooler of pumped milk and have a huge family hug, including my husband. I found the longer I smiled, talked, encouraged, kissed, and loved during that time the better my evening was. Perhaps it helped me to relax and acclimate into mothering mode.
My next thought was "What can I thaw for dinner, or what's in the crock pot?" I held my infant daughter almost the entire evening because we both liked it. My toddler would be my helper and would stir, mix, or set the table. We made a game of it. I would nurse my infant in the dining table chair while dinner heated, and I would talk with my toddler and infant. We often read books, did puzzles, or played games while the baby nursed. It was hard to do this at first, but a friend encouraged me to try it because toddlers are so happy to get attention while the baby nurses. Children want love, sincere eye contact, listening, and conversation.
Enlist your husband. Husbands can often take over with cooking during times when children need extra mothering time. Or they may be able to play tickle with the kids while mom cooks. When my husband has to travel on business, I sometimes resort to a favorite short videotape so that I have enough time to cook dinner quickly.
I also tried to let the housework go during the week. I definitely enlisted my daughter's help with the laundry and the dishes when I could. Toddlers are such eager helpers. My first year of having a newborn and a two-year-old was overwhelming until I decided that I was going to enjoy motherhood. Happiness is a choice, I decided.
Perfection is an unattainable goal which causes distress! I feel like I only had time to blink and my toddler is now five and my newborn is now three. I look back with great fondness and even longing on those snuggle times in the chair with a nursing infant and a wiggling toddler.
During the time I was a Leader of an evening LLL Group, we had many employed women who faced the same dilemma you describe.
Perhaps your baby's comparatively higher need for nursing than your toddler's has to do with simple math: when your toddler was a baby, she shared you only with your husband whereas your baby shares you with your husband and a toddler who is (probably) more demanding than your husband was. Nursing is the only thing your baby gets exclusively, which may be one of the reasons she asks to nurse more frequently and for longer periods of time.
The good news is that there are other ways to meet her need to be close to you and bond with you. One is to carry her in a backpack or sling while you go about the nightly routine. (Note that a baby should be carried in back while using the stove because having them in front of you is dangerous.) Fathers or other family members can often take a turn at carrying a baby during this high-need time.
You could also try sleeping with your baby. This gives her several hours of uninterrupted access to the breast and your warm, loving body.
If your children are in two different daycare locations, you could get your husband to pick up the toddler and you pick up the baby. After a nice nursing and car ride home with you alone, perhaps she'll be more amenable to her father's attention while you and your toddler talk about her day and get on with the evening chores.
If none of this works out, you may have to resign yourself to not being able to meet everybody's needs simultaneously. This is life. My philosophy is to do the best you can and accept the things you can't change! Good luck.