I’ve been in the “mom of 2” business for almost a 2 weeks now, and I have to say it has been going better than I imagined it would. I set my expectations very low for how this transition would go, so I guess I am pleasantly surprised that it’s not as crazy as I thought it would be. With Phoebe just turning 2 and being very very attached to me, I wasn’t sure how she’d handle such a huge change and having to share my attention. She has been a rock star. No jealousy, no crying because I’m holding the baby, no outbursts (outside of normal terrible 2 behavior/misbehavior).
I received a lot of advice before I had Eloise about making a smooth transition into life with 2. It was my biggest fear, so I asked everyone and expressed my concern about it so that I could get the advice and insight on how to make things work.
So far, this has been the best advice I’ve received, and even though I am still learning how to balance life as a family of four, I thought I’d share these strategies for anyone who is about to embark on the same journey! Please feel free to share your own advice, tips, and tricks about making the transition from 1 to 2, 2 to 3, etc… smooth and pain free.
When your current child/children come to the hospital to meet the new baby, make sure the baby is in the crib and make a big deal about your child’s arrival. Give hugs and kisses and tell them how much you have missed them. Don’t make the first meeting all about the new baby. Get a little gift for your child from the baby to congratulate them on becoming a sibling. Have no expectations. Go with the flow and roll with the punches. Remember that everything is a season, and the most trying of times are short lived. If your spouse can take time off work, the more the better. My husband was off for 2 weeks and it was a huge help. I felt like I was much more adjusted with 2 kids and ready to take on the responsibilities by myself once he went back to work. If you have daycare or a babysitter for your older child, let them keep going. This will give you a break during the day to get to know your new baby, nap, take care of yourself, do errands, etc… If you don’t have family, friends, daycare or a babysitter nearby and you can afford to hire someone to come to help, do it. Look into getting a postpartum doula or a mother’s helper for the first few weeks to help with sibling care, meal prep, household chores, etc… The more support you have, the better things will be. Make a “busy bag” or “nursing bag” for your older child. Put things in the bag that will keep your child happy and occupied while you are nursing and have your hands full. For Phoebe, I bought little surprise egg toys, sorting toys, and small puzzles and she loves it. Do not be ashamed if you have to give your older child your phone/iPad/tablet to keep them occupied while you attend to the baby. No room for mom guilt when getting adjusted to life with 2+ babies! Try to say “my hands are busy” and not “I am busy with baby” when you’re tending to the baby and the older child needs you, so the older child doesn’t start to resent the baby for always needing you. Wear the baby as much as you can! I always feel guilty when I put the baby down and don’t hold her all the time, so baby wearing solves that problem. I have both my hands free to play with my daughter and still feel like I am fully engaged with my newborn. Get your older child a doll to take care of alongside you. They will feel like they are needed and it will help keep them occupied. Put the baby gear out a few weeks before your due date so that your older child can get used to the new stuff, play with it, and learn that it’s for the new baby. Plan a lot of outings with just you and your older child. Go to the library, play place, children’s museum, park, go out with friends. Any time alone with you will be extra special for your older child. Watch your language- if you find yourself saying “Don’t do that!”, “Don’t touch the baby!”, “Don’t be loud!”, try to rephrase what you’re saying and redirect your child in a more positive way. For example, if your older child is constantly touching the baby’s head, try saying, “Why don’t you touch her toes?” instead of, “Don’t touch the baby!”.
It’s easy to get frustrated with your older child and yourself when there are more challenging moments than calm, peaceful ones. But remember-they are just that, moments. There will be moments when you feel pulled in a million directions, and when you feel like you can’t possibly be all things to everyone. But they are short lived and temporary. And they fade away. Just tell yourself, there will be moments. Just moments, and you will survive them, they will be over, and one day you will long for those nitty-gritty, challenging moments. The sweetness and joy of seeing the beginnings of a lifelong bond and friendship develop right before me is what I look back to when times are trying. There is no greater gift you can give a child than a sibling. There is no sweeter joy than seeing the two beings you created, that are more precious than anything on Earth to you love each other. You might not love every moment, but you will adore most of them.
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