7 Tips for Second Baby's Arrival
“The days are long, but the years are short,” said every stay-at-home mom ever. At least, that’s what I’ve heard from many of them. I’m starting to understand this wisdom after surviving my first summer living the #momlife. After a decade working full-time in a fast-paced career, spending very little time as a housewife and only seeing my daughter roughly 30 minutes per night (and on weekends) for the first year of her life, it has been a challenging, yet rewarding transition to full-time mommy.
Looking at the past four months we’ve shared together, I feel SO much closer to Adelaide. I actually know her now – her sweet demeanor, her quirks and even her less than endearing toddler tantrum behavior (is it possible for the terrible 2’s to come early?).
I do miss working in a stimulating environment, daily adult camaraderie and the extra housework help that came along with a terrific nanny. But, I don’t regret this decision for the world; I know this mom job is more important right now, and I will never again have the rare opportunity to be with Addie and our newborn baby boy while they are young. Work will be there when I’m ready.
So, just when we slid into a solid routine, the realization dawned on me that our cozy groove will COMPLETELY change in a few short weeks with the arrival of our second baby. I was nervous to embrace SAHM life in the spring with a toddler, but taking on “2 under 2” sounds slightly terrifying. Thankfully, I have a wonderful support network of friends and mothers who have been through it all, from first born to multiple children and into the teenage years.
Below is a compilation of their collective advice that I’m trying to remember during this next adventure:
Try not to rush your toddler into any additional major transitions during the new baby’s arrival.
This seems like it would be common sense, but I was subconsciously violating this rule until I spoke with Addie’s provider. I always feel like I’m a step behind on parenting when we go to her wellness appointments, so at her 18-month check-up, I wanted to feel like a superstar mom ahead of the curve.
When I asked the doctor if we were on the right track by starting potty training early by introducing Addie to her little toilet, she cautioned against beginning the big undertaking (for her and us) right before or after baby came. She said the right time would be when:
· The toddler is sleeping in a bed that is accessible to the toilet
· She is waking up from naps without wetting herself
· She is showing interest in training undies
Addie was not doing any of these things, so the doctor said it was fine to wait about six months. She also encouraged me not to force her into her toddler bed until 1.) we absolutely need the crib for the new baby or 2.) she is climbing out of the crib.
Hey, more time is always a plus in my opinion!
Encourage supervised help with the newborn to make the toddler feel included.
We heard this tip early on from several friends and bought Addie a baby doll to make her comfortable with the idea of a baby brother. At first, I was a little worried – as she would drag her “baby,” throw him in the trash, etc., but recently she has wanted to include baby by bringing the doll to the playground, to meal time and in her crib. She has even begun to relate “baby” to my stomach and tried to “feed” him raisins and a bottle.
Other valuable tips to help the toddler feel included:
· Encourage joint behavior with the toddler and her baby doll during nursing, bottle feeding or changing his diaper.
· Engage the older child while the infant is sleeping or have singalong/conversations while nursing.
· Do not leave your infant unsupervised with the toddler. According to a friend’s provider, frequent ER visits occur due to well-intentioned sibling interactions.
Make a conscious effort to set aside one-on-one time with the toddler.
Even if it’s just a wagon ride around the neighborhood, a Target run or a quick trip out for frozen yogurt, many have suggested to leave the newborn with dad (right after feeding seems to be a popular time) for some mom and toddler bonding every day if possible.
I’ve been taking Addie to open gym for gymnastics. It’s cheap, and since it isn’t an organized class, we can spend more time together. I hope to continue this after baby boy is born, among crafts and other activities into the winter.
The infant’s schedule is more flexible than your toddler’s.
According to a mom friend with three teenage girls all two years apart, it’s not wise to break playdates for the oldest just because the baby is still napping. Since infants nap all the time, their schedules are a bit more flexible (plus, who needs another toddler tantrum?!). While Addie was still under 6-7 months, I remember it being much easier to bring her along to the grocery store or a late dinner as long as I was carrying her in the Ergobaby. Hopefully our new baby will be as easygoing as she was on these outings!
Once the baby is on a stricter nap schedule around 6-9 months, Parents Magazine recommends adjusting routine activities to times that fit both the toddler’s and newborn’s schedules if possible.
Make meal prepping your new best friend.
Meal prepping is my nemesis. But I realize it can also be my hero if I could just embrace it. Another useful tip from Parents Magazine is to use 15-30 minutes of time before bed each night to either prep breakfast, pack your toddler’s lunch for daycare or do SOMETHING productive for your kids that may seem cumbersome in the evening, but will save you time the next day.
This also includes cleaning the kitchen the night before instead of waiting for the next morning – which will truly clear your head and provide a fresh start for the next day. Once I master this, I will tackle better meal prep and planning for me and my husband!
What is “me” time again?
I’m sure I’ll be asking myself this question when my second comes along, but I’m a firm believer that you can’t provide the best care for your children if you aren’t your best self. For me, that translates into time for a short workout, or on really crazy days, just having a solo cup of good coffee before the household wakes up and reading the Skimm for an abbreviation of global and national news. Highly recommend this daily newsletter to stay connected to the outside world!
Of course, naps will be needed in those first few months and will probably be taking the majority of my “me” time! Everyone is different and relieves stress in their own way. And there’s always wine!
Try not to stress, and let things happen naturally.
This is the most popular advice I received from my network of experienced moms. As a serial planner, it’s really difficult for me to just “let things happen.” I will stress about most situations until I’ve researched them fully in advance and have prepared as much as possible. But the reality is, I can plan as much as I want, and there is no way to anticipate the unique variables that each child (or dynamic that a duo of children) will bring to a family. There hasn’t been a perfect mother yet in history, and I won’t be the first. However, if our hearts are in the right place, that’s all that matters, right?