Going from one child to two – or more – is a big transition. It is not only a big change for parents, but for kids too. I remember when my second was born and my husband was juggling school and a career, so I was on my own a lot. It was a challenge for sure! Looking back, here are some tips I learned along the way.
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Prepare as much as possible ahead of time.
If you nested and made freezer meals for your firstborn – prepare even more for the second! All those times I had a crying baby and a toddler that was hungry or melting down, the house was a mess and I was exhausted — it made sense to just go crazy stocking up with toilet paper and making buckets of mashed potatoes to freeze. Also consider setting up Amazon Subscribe & Save so that you don’t have to think about keeping up with restocking supplies from toilet paper to trash bags, plus you will save money.
Rest when you can.
You know how people always say to sleep when the baby sleeps? Well if you ever have the chance to grab a moment of sleep because BOTH kids are asleep, do it! It was a rarity for us and it felt heavenly to take a nap! (The dishes can wait!) People told me “sleep when the baby sleeps” all the time, and I rarely did, but in retrospect, I really should have taken this advice, as I ended up being more sleep deprived than I would like to admit.
I don’t have much family locally, and we were also fairly new to the area, so help was kind of hard to come by. I also have a hard time accepting help. But if people offer to help, accept it. We so deeply appreciate those who helped us – whether it was a co-worker that sent us a bagel platter or family that visited and helped cook and clean. Every little bit helps!
Another part of accepting help is that having a baby can be isolating. If friends or family offer to visit, take them up on it, unless you firmly believe that their visit will not be helpful.
Make special time with your toddler.
The transition from being a single child to having a new baby is tough. So when the baby was napping, I did my best to try to have special time with my firstborn, whether we read or did a puzzle or a craft. Even as the kids got older, I would try to do something special like get out beads and do a craft – something that we couldn’t necessarily do around a baby that would put everything in their mouth. It helps to have that one-on-one time. Get some toddler toys that are special – it will help make your toddler feel like the special older sibling.
Prepare extra activities for your toddler for when you need to take care of the baby.
I remember struggling to keep my toddler entertained while I was taking care of the baby – like during nursing or putting the baby down for a nap. You may want to invest in some ‘busy’ ideas for your toddler, whether you buy some new toys or just stock up on a bunch of coloring books, or perhaps save screen time/TV time for when you really need it (like when the baby is crying because they are hungry and tired).
Don’t plan a lot of transitions for your other child.
Your first born child has a lot to deal with when the baby arrives. It helps not to add in other changes – like transitioning to a big kid bed or starting a new school, etc. And on the other hand, for yourself, it is probably beneficial not to try imposing big changes either, such a potty training, because that is a lot of commitment to take on at one time. Time it so that there is not much of an overlap in these changes. Something like graduating to a big kid bed is a special event, so make sure that it is something that your child does not associate with the new baby.