On Monday, Megan wrote a post called “Ten Tips for Mothers Expecting Their Second Babies” on 5 Minutes for Parenting that was so spot-on to my experience I just had to comment. Megan wrote me back to ask if I had any other tips for some of her friends expecting their second babies. As I responded to her, I realized that I had a whole post worth of ideas. I would love to hear about your experiences as your families grew!
The first two tips are for preparing ahead of the birth of the new baby. Make life easier on yourself and…
1. Make a bunch of casseroles ahead of time and stick them in the freezer. Or, alternately, buy a bunch of frozen meals that you can easily heat and eat after the baby comes. Our church offers a meals ministry where new mothers are delivered meals for three weeks, but if you are new to the area or don’t have such a ministry, you will still need easy dinners. On a related note, make sure your pantry is stocked with basics like pasta/sauce, rice and beans, and soups. Make a list of easy dinners so that you won’t have to think about it after the baby is born.
2. Stock up on paper plates/cups/bowls and plastic silverware. ESPECIALLY if you don’t have a dishwasher.
And the rest of the tips will help you after the new baby is home. Do your best to…
3. Take a shower before your husband goes to work in the morning. Many of my friends don’t do this, and I have always wondered how they manage to get a shower while taking care of their little ones. If you figure out how to do this, let me know. If not, just bite the bullet and get up with your hubby. He will appreciate seeing you somewhat awake, too.
4. Always say “YES!” when anyone asks if she can help. Even better, have a mental list of things people can do. (A load of laundry, scrub the toilet, take the big sister to the park, wash the dishes, make dinner/order pizza, pick up a gallon of milk…)
5. And a related tip, stay on top of the diaper supply. Don’t let the stash get below about a three day supply. You do NOT want to have to drag the newborn and your older child out in a diaper emergency. You will practically be guaranteed that the baby will have a major poop blowout.
6. Make sure you have a sling that FITS. If you are even considering wearing your baby, find someone who uses a sling and have them check to see if yours fits properly. I had a ring sling with my second baby that didn’t really fit. I used it some, but it hurt my back. When I was pregnant with Sydney, I made my own sling. It was soooooo easy to make, I used this tutorial and it took me 15 minutes. Literally, I timed it. I used that thing all the time with Sydney. It’s funny, but I got it out this week and she has been in it every day for the past three days. She’s almost 2 and she still fits!
7. Coordinate the children’s nap schedule. This one thing alone was responsible for the shreds of sanity I retained while Georgia was a baby. Whatever it takes, once the baby is on some semblance of a schedule, try to get them both to nap at the same time. This is the only way you will get to sleep when the baby sleeps. Believe me, I learned this the hard way. It was so sad to put Audrey down for a nap, hear Georgia waking up, play with Georgia as I got tired-er and tired-er, and then put Georgia down just as Audrey woke up.
8. “Talk” for the baby. In other words, any time the baby coos, grunts, smiles, or even cries, tell your older child that the baby was talking to her. For example, Big Sis is building with blocks and the baby says, “Gooo.” You tell your older daughter, “Oh, your baby said that she loves your block tower!” On the flip side, if the baby starts crying, say, “Oh, your baby says that she is so sad she is too little to play blocks.” This tip will help you because it will make your older child start to feel a bond with her sibling. As your child feels that the baby is not YOUR baby, but OUR baby, you will (hopefully) see less jealousy toward the baby. (My kids really thought that I spoke “baby” and that I literally understood what Sydney was saying. Who was I to set them straight?)
9. Sometimes tell baby to wait. Again, this is related to #8. You will probably be telling your older child numerous times that she has to wait because the baby needs a diaper change…needs to be fed…needs her pacifier…etc. Once in a while, when the baby is fussing, say out loud, “Sorry, honey, you will need to wait for a minute. Your big sister needs a drink…a snack…her hair brushed…etc.” Just by verbalizing what you were planning to do anyway, your older child will internalize that her needs will be met, as well.
10. This is probably the most important tip. Just decide that you can do it, that you ARE, in fact, doing it. Parenting two small children is very difficult, but you can do it. Your children are loved, fed (who cares if it’s just Goldfish), and clothed (did I say the clothes were clean? No). There is nobody handing out prizes for mommies who have it all together, and by the way, NO mommies have it all together. This is a short stage, and soon your children will be playing together while you blog (it’s happening as I type this post). And having a toddler and a newborn can’t be as hard as (insert a family situation that would be harder than yours)!
Do you have any other tips that got you through?