I remember a moment after my second daughter Summer was born. I was sitting on the rug in their room. I was desperately trying to read my 2-year-old daughter her bedtime books while trying to nurse Summer so that she would stop howling. Except it wasn’t working at all.
Summer was crying. My daughter Dylan was crying. I was crying.
This would have been sad enough except we weren’t even alone. I had hired a part-time mother’s help who was staring at the three of us, looking kind of helpless. I’m guessing she waited a long time before having her own kids.
Eventually of course we got into a groove or at least sort of groove. But I look back at it as one the more challenging phases of parenthood. Well, I mean, there was also the time when my twins were repeatedly getting out of their cribs at night which gave me an epic nervous breakdown. And of course, that 3 year whiny phase Summer went through. And then traveling with 5 kids alone. And then…
You know what? This isn’t a competition. Let’s just say it can be an adjustment to go from one kid to two. Yes, the first kid alters your life completely. But the second takes some serious multi-tasking, patience and fortitude. But I have tips! And I have insights!!
I promise you can rock this two kid thing. Or at least not be sitting on your floor in a puddle of tears – it’s always good to have low expectations!
Newborns: Been There, Done That!
This time around you know how to take care of a newborn! But you’re thinking, “I don’t remember anything!” I know it feels that way but you actually do. It will all come back and be a lot easier.
The Invention of TV is Pretty Cool.
This is not the time to stress about TV. I used to let my daughter Dylan watch Sesame Street in 20 minute increments so that I could nurse Summer quietly. It was good for my spirit. Yes, sometimes I would read Dylan a book while I nursed. But often a mother needs to breastfeed and watch old episodes of Wings.
Kids Can Share.
Yes, kids can share a room. Dylan wore earmuffs to bed for at least 2 years to block out Summer’s crying. Listen, I share a room too (although honestly my husband Rick doesn’t cry all that much).
You Won’t Be Bored!
Remember that first baby boredom? Like I love this baby soooo much but I don’t really know what to do with him. That’s gone. Now your baby just goes along for the ride. You’re too busy to be bored.
Chaos is Temporary.
You have to sort of accept the chaos. I am a really neat person. Well, not my minivan. But I love my house to be neat. But now I let the chaos go until the end of the day. If the mess gets too crazy, just leave the house and pray your imaginary live in maid takes care of it while you’re gone.
You’re Heart Will Burst.
Your kids will actually entertain each other. I remember the first time I watched them in the bath together. Summer was in her baby bath tub (which I then plopped in the regular tub). The two of them just screamed with joy. It was amazing.
You’ve Already Got a Mother’s Helper.
Put your older child to work! I mean, why did we have kids if not to skirt child labor laws? Your older kid can do all kinds of things for you – grab a diaper, help you pick out pajamas, feed the baby a bottle, help entertain while you are getting stuff ready and this will all help your older kid feel better about this new needy addition! And it only gets better. The day your older child reads a book to your younger one will be a mighty fine day indeed.
Make Your Older Child Feel Important.
There are all kinds of ways to do this. You can have a present for your older child from the baby at the hospital. You can put a picture of your older child in the bassinet. You can buy your child a “big brother” or “big sister” shirt. Basically you want to try to put a lot of focus on your older kid. This can take some effort – especially when your newborn is the most adorable thing ever and your toddler DOES NOT STOP TALKING.
I Heart a Baby Carrier.
I’m a big fan of a baby carrier because you can pop your little one in there and you’re now hands free to spend time with your older child. And I find that babies are happier for a lot longer in a baby carrier than a stroller.
No Guilt. Just Love.
You have enough love for both. But you will feel like you don’t have enough time. If you have help, try to have solo time with each kid but don’t drown in guilt if it’s not always possible. You love your kids. You take care of your kids. You are doing great. And now you have two kids to some day pick out a really ritzy nursing home for you. Like one with a fancy spa and hot cabana boys.