Becoming a mother for the second time has made me realize how fast it all goes. It makes me see how big my oldest son is—how fast he is growing up. I have shed more sentimental tears over him since the baby came along. I have cuddled longer with him at bedtime and kissed him extra when I drop him off at preschool. I have tried to enjoy the chaos more.
And I am really making sure to stop and smell the baby this time around, soaking up every second of babyness that I can. When my oldest was born I was dealing with a lot, and it prevented me from enjoying that time with him as much as I am this time around. Much of it was just first-time mom stuff, and some of it was unusual circumstances caused by a postpartum medical issue that I was struggling with (you can read more about that here). So this time around I am awake and really experiencing it. It doesn’t mean it isn’t hard (because it is really freaking hard some days), but it is so amazing that sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the goodness of it.
So now that six months have passed and I can look back on what really helped me, I thought that I’d share some of my tips for transitioning from one kid to two.
Keep your expectations low.
Don’t think that you can do it all. You can’t. No one can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or accept help that is offered. Even if that means a friend calls from Target and asks if she can bring you anything, and you ask for some Tuck’s pads (that’s friendship!). Some other things I recommend if you can: hire a cleaning service (even if only for a little while), allow friends and family to bring you meals, let the laundry pile up unfolded, and accept offers of babysitting.
Saying no is okay.
You can’t attend that birthday party with both kids in tow. You don’t want your in-laws staying in your home right after baby is born. You can’t bring the juice boxes to preschool for the class party, because you can’t even get to the grocery store for food for your own family. It is okay to say no to things. In fact, it should be expected. Don’t feel bad about it.
Wear the baby.
Whether you’re super into baby wearing or not (I am and highly recommend it) or whether or not your wore your first child, babywearing will be your best friend the second time around. Calvin lived in my Solly Baby Wrap for the first couple of months, and now spends lots of time in my Ergobaby 360. Both have been lifesavers, giving me hands-free time to cook, clean, hold my older son’s hand, and so much more. Start early and do it often. Calvin used to squirm and struggle a bit when I wore him, and now he freaking loves it. And if you want more info about either, I’ve reviewed the Solly Baby here and the Ergo 360 here.
It’s okay to use the TV and iPad as a babysitter.
Listen, unless you are lucky enough to have family nearby that you trust to help with your children or your older child is in school full time, there are times when you will have NO idea how you could possibly nurse a baby, feed an older child, put both down for naps, change a diaper, wipe a toddler butt, and maybe get to pee or brush your own teeth—all on your own. I’ll tell ya how you do it—you break out the iPad or put Mickey on the TV. I’ve gotten into a morning rhythm by letting Charlie pick one show to watch on the iPad while he eats his breakfast at the table. It gives me thirty minutes to nurse or put Calvin down for his morning nap and maybe get dressed myself. In the early days when Calvin nursed 24/7, we had to have some movie marathons. We all survived and our brains are all still working just fine (or theirs are anyway).
Take it from me, husbands just don’t understand.
It doesn’t matter how hands-on your husband is as a dad, how much he is around, how helpful he tries to be, and how much he does—he can never and will never understand what having two children (or one child, for that matter) is like for you as the mother. It isn’t his fault. He’s just wired differently. He doesn’t have the hormones, the motherly instincts, the boobs, the uterus, the giving birth experience, the connection, or the brain that a mother has. He can go to the bathroom for twenty minutes and not feel guilty. He will probably get a shower every day. He can somehow find time to exercise most days. It doesn’t cause him to physically hurt when the baby cries. He isn’t on a short invisible leash to the children like you are. He will tell you to relax and fully believe that saying that is not only possible, but helpful to you (even though you and I know it isn’t). It will be hard not to resent him. And that’s not your fault. But just remember that the best dads and husbands often feel like a crappy husband to you for a while after you have a baby. He really isn’t a crappy husband—he just can’t understand what you are going through. And also, hormones are rough, and often even rougher postpartum than during pregnancy. Just remember that what you’re going through is normal, it will pass, and you will like each other again. And try to go out for a date night alone if you can, even for only an hour or two.
If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.
Honestly, I have literally cried over spilled milk. It’s so much easier said than done, but if you try to take a breath and just laugh when things get crazy or frustrating, it makes things so much better. It isn’t that you won’t have anxiety, or want to cry, or have a panic attack in the one shower you get this week—those things might happen too. But laughter really is the best medicine. Sometimes when things get rough and we’re all at each other’s throats, one of us will put on a song and we break into a family dance party instead. Because how can you have a bad day when you’re having a dance party?
Find your support system.
If you don’t already have support from the first time around, adding a second kid will definitely have you needing a support system for you and your partner. For me, that is a group of women that I met in Mom’s Club when my oldest was under a year old. We have become such great friends over the last couple of years, and many of us have had our second babies together. We talk about nursing issues, annoying husband habits, and our “fournagers”; we have girls’ nights out, celebrate each other’s small victories, deliver food and coffee on rough days, and compare notes on naps and non-naps. This group of friends has saved my life as a mom.
Also, if you are feeling overwhelmed, extremely anxious, or depressed, you need to have someone to talk to. Whether it is a friend or a professional, having a supportive outlet will make all of the difference and can be a good sounding board as to whether you might need additional assistance with something you are going through. Texting or calling a long-distance mom friend is great, and I have a couple of besties I do that with. But having some local mom friends that you can grab coffee with, have play dates with, and share tips on local classes, preschools, cleaning ladies, babysitters, etc. makes a world of difference. If you don’t have local mom-friend support, I highly recommend joining your local Mom’s Club! That’s where I met my local mom crew and it’s the best thing I ever did.
More Tips for Baby Number Two: