We just celebrated our second son’s first birthday a couple weeks ago. We’ve officially been parents of 2 boys for over a year now! So now I’m a pro at being a mom of 2 now. NOT!
I’m still figuring things out. Currently, I’m slowly working toward weaning my one year old, which has proven to be quite difficult. And our biggest struggle is trying to keep our 3-year-old in his bed at night so that we can all get some quality sleep. Some days, I feel like I’m barely surviving. On very rare occasions, I feel like I got this down. Anyone else relate?
I was reflecting on this past year and thinking about how surprisingly difficult the transition has been. I’m sure many other parents who have more than one child will agree. Having a second child is a completely different ball game.
There is a lot more multi-tasking. For example, having to feed a toddler while also nursing a newborn–not exactly a walk in the park. And the overwhelming mom-guilt of not being able to give each child my full attention at all times, has also been a big adjustment I needed to make.
Honestly, our adjustment was really rough, and I feel like we did a lot things that made this transition a lot more difficult for ourselves. For example, we moved 4 times before D turned 6 months old. Yeah…not exactly the best idea.
Now, I have a full year’s experience under my belt. I thought I would share the things that I think worked well for us, and the things I wish we would have done to ease the transition.
Without further ado, here are my tips on how to transition from one to two kids LIKE A PRO. Just do the exact opposite of what we did, and you’ll be golden 😉
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Set Realistic Expectations
As with most things, setting realistic expectations may change everything. If you go into this thinking that it’s going to be super easy, you’re in for a rude awakening. But if you go into having prepared yourself for the worst, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Our first son was a really easy and chill baby. And a really good sleeper. He started sleeping 6 hours at night when he was 10 weeks old. If I remember correctly, he was sleeping 12 hours a night probably by the time he was 5-6 months old.
So when we decided it was time to try for a second kid, we were like sure! Why not? Babies are easy! Little did we know that our second son would be the complete opposite. Even as a newborn, he wanted to be held to sleep. And it took four attempts at sleep training, and almost a full year before our second son would sleep through the night.
If we had gone in thinking that our second son would be a more difficult baby, it would have been much easier mentally and emotionally.
Minimize Change As Much As Possible
Even if all the things in your life is exactly the same, adding on one more member to your family is a HUGE change. Especially when that new addition is a newborn that needs to be nursed every 2-3 hours.
So my advice is this: minimize change as much as humanly possible.
Stay in the Same Home
I mentioned before that we moved 4 times before my second son turned 6 months old. 4 TIMES! It was a situation that was definitely out of our hands. But girllll, let me tell you…it was rough!
The packing and unpacking, and the constant clutter drove me insane. My toddler had to adjust to a new sleeping situation with every move, which really messed with his daily routine and nap schedule. And sleep training our baby was out of the question.
I would say staying in the same home for at least the first year of adjusting to a second baby would be the way to go.
Stay at the Same Job
Staying at the same job for both you and your husband would also probably be a good idea. A new job without any other major life changes is in itself a huge change. Adjusting to new co-workers and supervisors, and new responsibilities is no easy task.
My husband got a new job when my second baby was around 5 months old. This job required us to move across the country. Again, not the most ideal situation when you have an infant and a young toddler.
Keep Your Older Child in the Same Bed or Crib
If your older child is sleeping well through the night, hang on to that for as long as you can! I would suggest keeping their sleep situation consistent for as long as possible. And of your child old enough to move to a bigger bed, try making that change a few months before the second baby is born. So that he or she is already used to his new bed long before the baby comes.
My first son was a great sleeper. Before all the moves, that is. He was probably sleeping a good 12 hours every night. And a 1-2 hour nap during the day. But during all the moves, we ended up having to share a room for a couple months. That really messed things up with his sleeping routine.
So for months after we finally settled down into our new home, he struggled to learn to sleep in his new big boy bed. We finally decided that it was best to have him sleep in our room. And this had lasted for 6 months.
We’re finally getting to a point where he sometimes sleeps in his room through the night (with a ton of bribery), and most nights he still ends up in our bed. Baby steps.
Work With Your First Child
This change of adding a second child into your life is a big adjustment for the parents, but it is a GINORMOUS change for your first child. He or she is used to having your world revolve around them. Then suddenly, a new baby is going to take up more of your time and attention.
To minimize the shock and jealousy, these are some of the things we did before the baby was born, in our attempt to make the adjustment go more smoothly.
Communicate With First Child
When you are ready to tell your child that you are expecting, explain to them that they are going to be an older sibling. And make it sound exciting!
If there are other families you know with multiple children, you can mention them and say that your family is also growing bigger. You can talk about all the fun things siblings can do together.
Our boys are just 2 years apart, so I think my first son still had trouble understanding what was happening. But I feel like the more that we talked to our first son about getting a baby brother (especially getting closer to the end of the pregnancy), it helped him understand a little bit more.
Read Books About Becoming an Older Sibling
Reading stories about becoming an older sibling is a fun way to get your first child more exposed to the idea that a baby will be joining their family.
Here are some other great suggestions to choose from:
Watch a Show about Becoming an Older Sibling
Similarly, watching a show about becoming an older sibling can also help them get used to the idea. Daniel Tiger has a few great episodes about meeting his baby sister Margaret, and learning about what it’s like when the baby comes home.
Present From Baby to Older Child
We bought two gifts and took them to the hospital with us when we went to have our second baby. When our first son met the baby at the hospital for the first time, we gave the first present “from the baby”. And when he came to visit again the next day, we gave him the second present “from the baby”.
They don’t need to be big gifts, but by giving a gift, I think it helps the older child associate the baby with a positive memory. For the first gift, I think we gave a little toy, and for the second gift, we gave him a pair of shoes. And for the longest time, he referred to them as “baby shoes” because they were from the baby.
Give A LOT of Attention
When you get home from the hospital, obviously the baby will require a lot of attention and care, especially from you. But give as much attention as you can. And if you are nursing the baby, make sure that the dad or a grandparent is there to play with your first child.
It’s great if you someone can even take the older child out to the playground or to a children’s museum, so that the older child can also feel special given the attention that he or she needs.
Wear Your Baby
This helped me so much! Since I had an active toddler, it was SO helpful to wear my baby using a wrap, sling, or carrier.
I will dedicate a post on all the carriers I’ve tried and love. But for now, I’ll just share about one of my favorite carriers that I loved using: Ergobaby! I had the original carrier, and I used it a LOT!
The Ergo Omni 360 (pictured below) is also a very popular option. I’m definitely trying this one out if we ever have another baby!
10% off any one product from Ergobaby. Just use the code DISCOVER10.
Ask for Help / Accept Help
Get Family Members to Help
I was lucky enough to have my parents come and stay with us and help us out. Both my parents were there for about 2 weeks and then my dad left and then my mom left I think 2 weeks after that. And then my in-laws came a few weeks after that for about 3 weeks. So I had a lot of help during the first few months.
My parents stayed at home with our first son while my husband and I were at the hospital for the birth. And they were able to help watch him while my husband and I took the baby to various appointments and checkups.
In addition to having extra help with our first son, it was such a blessing to have my mom and mother-in-law cook for us. I don’t love cooking anyways. But especially since I had a c-section for both births, even doing something as simple as going grocery shopping and cooking was really difficult during the first couple weeks. And I was FAMISHED when I was breastfeeding, so it was extra nice to always have food in the house.
Start a Meal Train
If you don’t have family nearby, and if no one can stay with you and help out, I would highly suggest starting a meal train. I know usually a friend starts one up for the family, but everyone kept asking if we had one so we set up our own. No shame.
Even on a normal day, grocery shopping and cooking can be a tedious task, but especially when you have a newborn and you’re recovering, it can be so difficult. Seriously, do yourself a favor and start a meal train.
Get Someone to Take the Night Shift
When you have one child, you can sleep when the baby sleeps as many people advise. However, with more than one child, that is not possible.
Having two kids, my sleep-deprivation reached a new level. I had be up with the baby at night, and had to be up with my energetic toddler during the day. Without help, I was not going to make it.
Get your husband or mom or sister or best friend to take the night shift. Especially during the first couple weeks.
When we had our first baby, my husband had a really physically demanding job with long working hours. And he wasn’t allowed any days off for paternity leave. ZERO. Worst job ever. (Things need to change, America!)
Because I knew how tired he was from his job, I never woke my husband up at night. I got up for every feeding, and watched as my husband snored on peacefully. At the time, I thought I was fine, but I think over time, I built up a bit of resentment for not having any help during the night.
So for our second baby, I told my husband in advance that I would really like help at night. Thankfully, he had a better job by that time and was able to take off some time for paternity leave.
When the baby cried at night, I had my husband get up to bring the baby to me. Then to give my husband a break, my mom also spent a couple nights with me to help with the baby.
Since I was determined to exclusively breastfeed, I didn’t let my husband or mom bottle feed. Looking back, I wish I would have slept through some feedings and let someone else give the baby a bottle.
Along with help at night, try to get someone to watch your older child, and take some naps when the baby naps. My in-laws were especially good about this. They would take my first son for half the day so that I could rest a bit when the baby slept. And they loved spending time with him anyways.
Even months after the baby was born, and I didn’t have help, I would nap if both my boys’ naps overlapped. It wasn’t often, but I took every nap opportunity (napportunity?) given to me.
So there you have it! Some tips and tricks that will help your family transition from one to two kids like a PRO. I wish you the best on your endeavors!
If you have any tips that have helped you, please leave them in the comments below!