Staying Home W/ a Baby and a 4 Yo?

Updated on December 21, 2012
L.N. asks from Fort Myers, FL
17 answers

Does anyone have any experience with this? My husband and I have a 3 yo son and are thinking it's time to start trying for another. Of course, by the time #2 is born our son would be 4 years old. I'm seriously considering staying home after #2...if nothing else, I would have a six month maternity leave. My son currently goes to a very good, but pricey daycare that has no part time's full time or nothing and it's pretty expensive. So keeping him in there, even if just during my maternity leave, wouldn't be an option. He would need to be home with the baby and me. MAYBE we would be able to afford half day preschool a couple days a week...but I know that is expensive as well. Because of the month he was born and the school district's cutoff, he can't start K until he is almost six years old. Florida has "voluntary pre kindergarten" that is free, but it only lasts a few months and again, because of his age he'd be over five years old before that even started.

On one income, we won't have a ton of money to throw around on preschool etc., so I'm thinking ahead and really starting to worry about how I will keep my VERY active, physical, high energy son occupied while I am home with a baby...I'm so worried about this I am contemplating waiting until he starts school to have another...seems a little silly but I'm just so concerned. Surely there are other moms who have stayed home with a baby and an older child did you do it? Especially on a limited budget?


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answers from Dallas on

i think you're WAY overthinking it - my kids are 3, 6, and 9 - i've been a sahm the entire time - so i've had an array of dif ages at dif times - we all survived it! the first couple weeks are a little rough as you get settled, but after that, the baby is mobile - he/she can be held as your 4yo plays at a playground, etc. it doesn't always work out that way, but try to plan a good time of year for the new baby's birth(as in spring or fall, a time when you can feasibly get outside).

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Of course, you are assuming you will get pregnant right away, which may or may not happen, even if it happened quickly before . Your older one might actually be in school by the time number two comes.
And if not, you will be fine at home with two.
If part time preschool is really out of your budget there are other activities to do and sign up for that cost little or nothing: mommy and me classes/activities, story time at the library, playgroups (usually organized by your local mom's club) swim lessons, etc.
The most important thing for both you and your son is that you get out of the house every day and that you connect with other moms as much as possible. That will ensure that he is busy and has playmates, and that you have some adult companionship (VERY important!)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

My children are five years apart and I stayed home with them. I am still staying home with them (7 and 2) and homeschooling. I imagine we're on one of the lowest budgets you could imagine.

Your son will be four when you have the baby...he won't be a toddler anymore. He'll be able to help you tremendously, believe me...he can fetch things for you, he can help to entertain the baby in a bouncy seat while you do the dishes, etc etc. The baby will sleep plenty, and you'll have time for your older son.

And you'll simply budget. Don't be concerned that you need to send your son to daycare while you are sitting at home...that's silly. You are at home, and he can be too. The free preschool option is great...I'd go with that...but please don't put him in daycare while you are at home with his little sib.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I was home with a very active 2 year old and a baby. Join play groups. Join a local YMCA.

I myself have a very high energy almost 5 year old, and a very high energy 3 year old and I'm due in less than 3 months! We homeschool, so I don't have daycare or send them off to school.

I guess I really don't get your concern. You find classes and things to do with the 4 year old, and you just bring baby along.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You need to actually look into preschool options. I think that you may find that you can find one to fit your comfort level in price. Ones around here vary greatly. All of our high schools offer them also-to train their kids going into teaching. Ours is free.
As for how you are going to do it-I won't say it will be easy but I do think it will be easier than it seems you are anticpating. There are many groups out there that you can join and you can also form your own play group. Your older son will be at an age where he does not need as much supervision and will also be able to help you. It won't be like a toddler who you can't leave for a second.
Don't wait though-the closer you have the kids together the nicer for them. Any longer and you will really be looking at two seperate phases all together. Its nice when they can share interests.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I stay home with my kids, my first was still 3 (turned four 4 months after) baby #3 was born... he was less than 2 when #2 was born. So - I was home with a 3 1/2 year old, a 2 year old and a newborn during a MN winter.

This is what we did to keep busy.

See if you can enlist some help for the first 4 weeks. By the time you get past that, you'll feel better (physically) and be more ready to get out and about with baby. Even if a Grandma or someone can help out one day a week to take him to the park those first few weeks, it could be very helpful for you. Or, if you can swing it, try to keep him in daycare for just the first month after baby comes. If you budget for it, it will make your transition to staying home much easier.

Once you feel more like yourself again, try getting out of the house as much as you can. It looks like you live in FL, so weather should cooperate... here in MN it was harder... but I lived through it :)

We did do a 2 day a week "preschool" for my son. In MN we have something called ECFE which is through the school district. I'd suggest trying to find something you could do at least one day a week where you drop him off. Do some research. In MN we also have lots of Parks and Recreation classes through the local parks department for that age where you drop off - my kids all did some science classes at that age. They are very reasonably priced - and I was able to drop off for 2 hours one day per week. My kids loved it. I suspect that going from full time daycare to full time home (without any other playdates or time with kids) might be hard for your son... see what is out there in your area for reasonably priced drop off programs. You might find some that fit your budget.

I also went to the library every week for story time. My kids loved it - it took about 1/2 the morning to get out the door, go to story time, then pick some books and head home for lunch.

My parents bought us a zoo membership that I used all the time. It was a great place to get out, and since it was "free" we could go for a few hours and then head home for naps.

We also got a Children's Museum membership. I went often.

Look around at local attractions - see how many have memberships available. If you have the memberships, and make an effort to go, you can get a lot out of them.

We also spent time at our local Art Museum (it's free everyday).

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

My older son turned three a week before his brother was born. I was a stay at home mom. He started nursery school three afternoons a week. It was only $60 a month. Other than nursery school we did everything else the same as before the baby, we just brought the baby along with us. Put the baby in a stroller, sled, car seat, bicycle trailer, sling, backpack, whatever, and away we went to the playground, zoo, museum, YMCA, library etc. We actually spent very little time at home, and we spent very little money! We took advantage of every free program and activity we could find and we bought memberships (or asked for them as gifts) for places we went to often.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I am SAHM. My (also very acitve) oldest turned three a couple of weeks before her little sister was born. We had a two-day/week MDO program through a local church, and that was great for one-on-one time with baby (or housework or me time when baby was napping).

Two days/week at MDO has run us about $160/month.

We have a playgroup that we found through Most of our playdates are at the park (free!), but every once in a while, some of us will host something at our house (sometimes, even with a potluck snack, so the only thing the hostess supplies is a backyard or playroom). If we are feeling like splurging, we head to McDonalds or Chick-Fil-A for lunch or breakfast and playtime, or bouncy houses - most of these will let you take a sack lunch, and play all day. But playgroups aren't required - you can do all this yourself. Also, ask for zoo or children's museum memberships for Christmas or birthday gifts (or giftcards to your local bouncy house!), or does your town have a botanical garden? Those are often free or low admission cost - and those are always great places for adventure. And a pool membership in the summer, if you don't have a local pool. Or hey, sign him up for swim lessons - most municipal pools offer these, that are relatively inexpensive. you and the baby can splash in the kiddie pool while big brother learns an important skill!

There is no reason a baby can't go with you to all of these places after about 4 weeks old - that's why God invented diaper bags. Baby will be carried a lot, and will become a master at sleeping in the carrier or, later, the stroller. Second babies, it seems, develop the ability to sleep just about anywhere!

And there's always craft activities, games in the backyard, that sort of thing. I know I'm evil for even suggesting it, but cartoons or Sesame Street on DVD are wonderful for times when you are home and need alone time with the baby. Other than that, remember, babies sleep quite a lot, and you will be available to your son while baby is asleep. When baby is awake, you absolutely don't have to entertain your older child one-on-one all the time. Learning to entertain oneself is a valuable life skill. At four, he is old enough even to play in a fenced backyard by himself. (I wouldn't leave poison or hedge clipper lying about, but being alone is okay. I HAVE been known to leave a window open, though, so I can hear when the kids are outside.)

It's not easy all the time. But, neither is having one child. I'm sure you couldn't have possibly planned out everything that has happened to you with your son. And if you sat down and really LOOKED at your day, it would be overwhelming. As a SAHM (I do a very little bit of part-time right now, but it's volunteer work, while oldest in in school and youngest is in MDO, so I'm still a SAHM), I can't imagine how in the world working moms manage to get themselves AND their kid ready for daycare and work every. single. day. How do you do it all? You And having two kids is like that, too. You handle "right NOW," a million times, over and over. And somehow, it works.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I had almost the exact scenario. We did ok with no preschool, actually, better than just ok. My youngest did have less one on one time than my older one. EVERY picture I have of my youngest was picture bombed by my oldest, lol!

I almost never bought a video or a book, it was the library for us. I went to a play group. We went to church and saw friends there. He started Tae Kwan Do. We got out almost every day. I bought few personal things. My oldest helped with the house work. We bartered for piano lessons with a friend who need a lawn mower.

It's a little hair raising when the little one crawls everywhere and gets in to big bro's play stuff. But when they learn to play together, you've struck gold.

I was glad my oldest (born Sept) got another year home with us because I didn't want him to feel "replaced" by the youngest. We got an extra year of bonding. You can not only do this but you can thrive!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

Heck ya! You just do it!!! LOL!
My son was just 2 when my daughter was born and we managed. It was hard at times and I was a little nervous going into the whole thing (wasn't planned) but everything works out!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I had this same situation. My son was 4.5 years old when my second was born. The answer is simple - when you have a second that baby has to roll with the punches. They are not the only child that your first child was and they don't get your undivided attention. However, if you are lucky, they get the love and attention of a sibling that your firstborn didn't receive.

My 4.5 year old was in his 3rd day of VPK when his brother was born. I worked until the day before but had put him in a VPK program on Monday. You need to be looking for a VPK program now anyway - if he is already 4 then he can start in August 2013. Even if you get pregnant today, your baby will come after VPK starts....

We chose a 5 day a week from 9-12 VPK program. From the time baby was home from the hospital, baby got dragged to drop off and pick up. On the other hand, baby had a full time nursing mom so baby had food available at all times and my son continued to get great interaction. VPK is free! Yes, you get the breaks off but you need to learn to deal with that anyway and it is based on the public school calendar (public holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas break, spring break) and then summer.

My older son continued in his soccer program, we went to the library for story hour and baby went along to everything. When he was super little, I wore him in a sling. When he got older, we used an Ergo and a stroller. As soon as he could walk - he began participating. By 18 months, he was in his own soccer program and big brother had to be the one who was watching.

My children are now 6 (first grade) and 2. I am back to work part-time by choice and my 2 year old is in a part-time preschool while big brother is in school. I do not regret my decisions, don't think that my big boy missed his full time daycare, and am grateful to have had such a good time with my children.

Don't wait...get started on it. Happy Baby-making. The best gift I've given my firstborn is his baby brother. They do fight now but they love each other immensely!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I'm fairly new to FL, but my understanding of VPK is that it is a school year program. So, if your son is 4 by Sept 1 of next year, he would qualify to start then..and it's free (although I think it's only the twice a week, half day program that is free).

You've gotten lots of good ideas from the other moms...and, like with most things with our kids, you'll make it work somehow :) One option you might consider that is cheaper than daycare is to hire a mother's helper for a while. Good luck with your planning!



answers from Detroit on

I am glad I read your post because it reminded me of myself. When I had a baby in the house plus a (very active, nearly hyper preschooler) it was tough. I won't lie. I signed up for daily preschool and then even was disappointed it ended before noon. I cut down on food. I was willing to eat oatmeal daily just to afford to send my preschooler out of the house.

Now with 5 little ones all under 7, we do preschool like crazy for any eligible to go. I didn't exactly space my kids to make sure one would be in school by the time the next baby arrived, but because preschool here starts at age 2 and up, for four hours a day...I made sure as many as possible were busily at school at the same time. (But of course being pregnant with the child NOT in school was always the hardest part).

Last baby, I had one child in all-day school, 2 in preschool, and a toddler at home, while I was pregnant. But the toddler napped. I was lucky.

Are there any inexpensive preschool options through churches?

Bless those who are saying it's no big deal. For me it was very difficult. I thought, well, I'm home so why can't the preschooler be home too? Didn't work out quite like that. I spend a lot on daycare (after-care for oldest) and preschool even as a SAHM but for us, that's a lifesaver.



answers from San Francisco on

Work a couple of more years and save money so you can do what is best for your family when you decide to stay home.



answers from Honolulu on

LOOK into your State programs.... in my State, there is a Preschool program that helps to subsidize preschool tuition costs for families that qualify. That is how, my daughter went to Preschool. It helps a lot. I learned about it because I researched heavily... per our State's programs.

Then, you also have to shop around, to various Preschool programs. They don't cost all the same. My son for example, I found a GREAT Preschool in our area, that was not expensive, they also accepted diapers and toilet trained, and they are VERY nurturing. My son loved it there. As did I.

My kids are 4 years apart. I am a SAHM. Since my 1st child was born. We are not rich. But we have made it thus far.

The thing is, you need to research Preschools and their various costs. It is not all the same.
And, you do not have to have your child in a pricey daycare that has no part-time options. It is up to you... to find a venue that works for YOU.
There are... MANY Preschools that are part-time and there are varying rates.

When my son was born, that is when my daughter started Preschool. She LOVED it. She went part-time half days. And again, we had the preschool subsidy for her tuition. BUT she started Preschool at that time... because that is when my son was born. We planned ahead, and I got her enrolled, for that time.

ALSO, BEFORE my son was even born... I SPENT my pregnancy, on prepping my daughter about it and about her sibling. So that helped a ton. When I was pregnant, she fully understood that I can't be carrying her around or running all around... I explained to her the Doctor said I also have to rest etc. And she was a REAL trooper about it all. She would even nap... when I needed to. We were a "Team" about it.
Sure she was active... but because I talked WITH her... she understood and was not all DEMANDING of me, while being pregnant.

It is all about how your prep your eldest child... about it all.

Oh and also, even when I was pregnant with my 2nd child, I was ALSO doing child care in my home! My eldest child was still home with me, too.
I managed.
Then when I was about 8 months pregnant, I stopped doing child care. By then I was just too big in belly size and it was so hard for me to move around.

No matter what, having more than 1 child, will be busier. Regardless of the age difference. BUT it is important to also prep the eldest child... about it all. When I was pregnant with my 2nd, I made "my" pregnancy about prepping my eldest child. She talked to my belly/her brother, she sang to it, we took tons of photos of her hugging my belly each month, I spent a lot of time bonding with her and talking with her about her "sibling," etc. So that, once her baby brother was born... she was already... adjusted. And had no adjustment problems. And she was a happy sibling.

Most everyone has a limited budget. Nowadays.
Who knows how we do it... but we do.
But now that my kids are both in elementary school, I have a part time job. AT my kids' school. And I am still able to drop them off to school and pick them up after school and be home with them, after. Lots of Moms... do that. Getting a job at their kids' school. For that reason.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I'm confused about the pre-school option....they don't have a pre-k class at his school that goes year round with the other classes? That's different.

If he's 4 now and turning 5 in late summer or early fall then he belongs in pre-K, that is the class he's the right age for.

I would see if there are any other schools in your area that have this class. It's not required in any state and is an option at all schools. Kindergarten is the first required level of education. Maybe some areas that consider 1st grade to be that instead but I haven't heard of any.

So he should be in pre-K in August 2013 when school starts.

If you got pregnant soon and delivered say....September then you'd have maternity leave until March where he'd be gone to pre-K almost all day and you could have some home alone time with the baby.

You could plan on staying home until he starts full day Kindergarten in August of 2014 then the baby would be the only one in child care full time. That would only add 4 months on to your maternity leave. So it wouldn't hurt your career too badly.

If you didn't get pregnant until May 2013 and delivered in February 2014 you'd be off work until August 2014 and you could go right back to work and not be off longer than your maternity leave and only have the baby in child care full time.

As for the school aged child he could do after school care at his school or have one of his new school friends mom's watch him after school for an hour or hour and a half. She could probably use $10-$15 per day to help out with food and stuff that he would be using while there.

You could use your personal days and vacations to be home when schools out like during Christmas break or Spring Break. You could do something really fun as a family at those times.

When summer 2015 came around he got done with kindergarten that is when you could re-evaluate your finances and see what you were able to cut back on and save to see if there actually is enough income with just hubby's income. That extra few months of income after the baby is born would probably be money you could try to put in the bank, totally after child care expenses so it does not count in the long run, to see if hubby's income is enough. The money in the bank would be the start of your vacation money and if you have to dip in to it for anything other than paying child care then you cannot afford to quit work.


answers from Lansing on

I was home on maternity leave with my 2 year old. Yup, she was active and I remember telling her pediatrician how she knew the perfect time to start climbing the cupboards and so on. Anyway, its not that bad or at least I don't remember it being that bad. In return I have 2 girls who are great friends and close in age.

You're right in thinking lots of people do it.

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