Monday, February 20, 2012

10 Tips for Transitioning from One to Two Children

We're almost at the two month mark. Two months of having a second sweet little boy. Two months of never sleeping more than 5 hours at a time (on a good night). Two months of "Sorry I'm crying honey. I'm not mad...just hormonal!" Two months of "Is that seriously the last diaper? We just bought diapers!"

To date, they've been the best, fastest-flying, most sleep deprived months of my life. The best.

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I don't think there's any way to make a seamless adjustment from one to two children. The shift in your family dynamic + limited sleep + hormones + healing time + more little ones with needs...it all equals a stretching, challenging time. It's healthy and good and knocks the wind out of prideful perfectionism.

With that said, there are a few things that have made the transition smoother for us.

10 Tips For The One to Two Child Transition:

Pre-Birth:

1) Get organized. This is an obvious one. Put that nesting urge to use! Things get twice as messy (or is it really more exponential?) when you add another kid to the mix, so it's helpful if you know where to find stuff. For me, this included organizing my toddler's room, purging toys, washing and organizing baby clothes, organizing the bathroom cabinets, organizing the kitchen cabinets. I put a basket with wipes/diapers/burp cloths in our room (where the baby would sleep) and the living room. We live in a very small home and babies typically involve more stuff, so I made room where I could.

I am so nesty tonight!!!

2) Make a hospital packing list. People always ask, "Is your bag packed?" The question strikes me as funny, since half the stuff you need to pack in your hospital bag can't be packed until the last minute (camera, toiletries, etc). This time around I made 4 packing lists for my hospital birth. One for:
     - Labor
     - Post-Labor
     - My husband
     - Our toddler, for when he would be with a babysitter/grandparent

The hospital packing lists ended up being invaluable when I had to have an unexpected C-section! We had a very short time to go home, pack our bags, drop Squishy off with friends, and get back to the hospital so that they could try to turn our baby. We were rushed and in a very new-to-us situation (i.e. I couldn't think straight) and the packing list was so helpful.

3) Stock the freezer with meals. It's hard to do a ton of cooking when you're 8-9 months pregnant, but WOW, it pays off. Between meals brought to us from church family and the meals I had prepped in the freezer, we were able to go three weeks without having to cook. It was awesome.

4) Prepare some fun activities/toys to have on hand for your older child. Pinterest is a wealth of ideas for busy bags. Some parents will buy a special toy or two for their toddler/older child to play with after the baby was born. For us, this was super easy since Baby E.'s birth fell right after Squishy's birthday and Christmas.

After the baby's birth:

5) Sleep. Sleep when both kids are sleeping. If someone offers to watch your toddler so you can sleep, take them up on it. Sleeping when you can (especially in those first 6 weeks) is so important! I always get these bursts of adrenaline in the first couple weeks after I have a baby and I am so tempted to "get stuff done" when the baby is asleep. But I have found that life is saner for everyone if I get as much rest as possible.

6) Think about a schedule that will work for you. With a newborn, no schedule is set in stone. But so far I've found that my babies fall pretty easily into a routine, and that routine can be tweaked to work around the rest of the family. I set the baby's morning wake-up time based on what will work best with the family's schedule. This is what our routine roughly looks like now.

7) Be intentional about spending 1:1 time with your firstborn. 


8) Memorize Scripture. This has been so wonderful to me! I've been trying to memorize one verse/passage per week. When I've missed having set-aside time with God, I can roll these verses around in my head as I was dishes or change diapers or play outside with Squishy. It's been refreshing and grounding when I've been tired, hurting, or hormonal (or all three).

9) Invest in a few convenience items. We bought paper plates for the 1st couple of weeks!

10) Adjust expectations and accept help. You can prepare for everything thoroughly and do all the "right" things, but if you're banking on your own know-how then your heart's in the wrong place. Have an attitude of dependence on God. Live that out practically by accepting help from other people.

And remember to adjust your expectations. There's a new "normal" now! It doesn't mean your house has to be a permanent pig-sty. It does mean that there will be more work and  less unoccupied moments.

(but don't worry...there will also be more FUN!)

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At 2 months in, these are a few actions that have helped us along the way. I'm still brand new to mothering two little ones! Tell me, mamas, what has helped your family when adjusting to a new baby?



P.S. Tip #11: Have your mother quit her job and come live next door. (Haha, just kidding. But it would be nice.)

Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works For Me Wednesday.
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25 comments:

  1. I learned that when things get really hairy, if I could just survive the next thirty minutes, everything would be fine. Somebody would be fed or asleep or happy and the current chaos would fade, so just make it through the next half hour. :)

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    1. True! My friend Christina has three kids, and she always says this. :)

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  2. I needed a reliable distraction for my older child. By the end of the day, when I was making dinner, I was (more often than not) frazzled and usually able to only concentrate on making dinner & entertaining the baby in the high chair while I made sure I didn't waste money aka burn dinner. While had been pregnant,I had scoured yard sales for old Barney VHS tapes (cheap!). I eventually stockpiled 32 Barney tapes. They were my saving grace on the days when I was hanging by a thread (we ALL know those days!). The ONLY time the older child could watch them was when I was making dinner. I have a tiny kitchen, and there was not room for another child to be in there with me without me tripping over her. As I write this,in hindsight, this seems awful, as we all want to be supermom and engage our kids at all times. But the reality is: it met everyone's needs.I will tell you that when I donated that entire box of tapes to another mom last year, I wanted to throw a party. No more Barney theme song! YAY! .........debbiechickie

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    1. Sounds like a workable plan to me! I let our toddler watch Sesame Street while I feed the baby/fix my hair/prep lunch some mornings.
      But yeah...Barney is rough to listen to as an adult!!!

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  3. I once had someone ask me if having two children gets easier. I told them that the trick to making having two kids seem easy is to have a third one. ;)

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    1. Haha! Very true. I'll get right on that...er...not yet!!!

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  4. GREAT list, Alicia! Your preparations are already on my list, but to hear that they made such a difference makes me feel smarter and less like I have a raging case of OCD ;) Keep those suggestions coming--I'm tucking them all away!

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  5. Something that helped me a lot was having a few single ladies or ladies without kids of their own and a flexible schedule (fairly easy in a college town) who would come over and take walks with me. Kept me motivated to walk and gave me time to talk to another adult while the little ones where still and content. On days when hubby coached or did carpentry after his teaching job it really helped my sanity to have someone else around to talk with. It also helped me feel like I was able to reach out and love on someone else. Once the baby got big enough to be predictable I could walk with other moms of little ones and talking with other moms was always encouraging for both of us.

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    1. I like this idea! I sometimes walk with my neighbor, but she is not as free as she once was. I should give an open invitation to some of the single girls I know...:) Thanks for the idea, Heather. :)

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  6. For me, having a great support system was vital. I struggled with PPD after the birth of our son and didn't have any friends or family to help. By the time I had our daughter, I had several friends and my Bible study even brought meals so I didn't have to cook. I didn't struggle with the PPD after our daughter was born (in part because I was on meds to prevent it as soon as she was born). Having two kids is wonderful and I'm glad we had another one. It's even better that we have one of each, because we feel that we've completed our family.

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  7. GREAT list! You know I'm just a couple days ahead of you so I'm learning right now too. Taking people up on their offers to help has always been a tough one for me but this time it's been a *tad* easier. And VERY much appreciated! I've thrown up my hands and realized I can't do it all :)

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  8. I like this list too!
    Another thing I learned at kid #2 (this falls under adjusting expectations I guess) was to accept that it was OK for my oldest to not get ALL of my attention- EVEN if she thought she still needed it!

    God gives me what I need to meet all of THEIR needs... but not, necessarily, all of their WANTS! :)

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    1. Yes...I think it's good for all of us. My toddler has to learn patience. The baby isn't the center of all attention. MY needs have to wait frequently, too. We're all learning good things!

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  9. What a great list. We are 14 months into our life with two children and I am still learning to adjust my expectations and accept help.

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  10. Love this post! Brings back so many memories for me as I had 3 babies under 3 for awhile (seemed like an eternity some days!) Now they are 6 and 5.
    I like what Emily said above about supplying their "needs" versus their "wants", so true! However, I will say, in my opinion as a mom who had a 17 month old and 2 newborns- it's ok for the infants to cry a few extra minutes so we can help the older one {a newborn won't remember ever crying an extra 2 minutes- but to our older one, even 2 minutes is valuable and he might really get his feelings hurt if we always rushed away from him at the sound of every cry}. I would always reassure my son, as he was so very babyish himself, that "it's ok, babies cry" as he was often worried about them- then we would go find an activity he liked to do to distract him or often he would go with me to check on them (usually happened while they were in the crib/bassinet). This helped a lot on keeping the atmosphere of our home as low-key as possible (which was not always easy, we had fussy girlies, but if I stayed calm it worked! haha)

    I'd also remember many, many days of always sitting on the floor (feeding, playing, holding newborn, burping, reading) at ALL the babies levels so they knew Mama was readily available for them (and so I didn't have to get up and down 20 times a minute!)-this manily helped the older guy adjust in those first few months, and he loved being a big helper with throwing out dirty diapers and such.

    One last thing I thought was extremely helpful that you mentioned is definitely a schedule! I had a big Dry Erase white board (because the schedule always changes!) on our kitchen counter, a neutral place in our home, where I could see it easily and it helped ME know, in those moments of chaos, what was needing to happen (nap, nurse, play with toddler, snack, etc.) in that moment of time. It was like a tool for my sanity and helped me keep some control of the always changing needs in the house.

    Now that my kids are older and I am reminded of these precious days, I realize not only is it such a sweet time to be a mommy but it's even sweeter to be in a place where our every moment of the day (especially on those hard ones) is fully surrendered to Jesus. It's a time to be cherished. There will be a day, very soon, where the most typical day will no longer have quiet moments and you can sometimes miss that small voice of the Lord while driving to soccer practice, school functions, and breaking up fights. Remembering scripture is such a wonderful way to keep the right focus too as you're pulled in every direction at every moment.

    Thanks for bringing me back for a bit to remember the precious time of having babies! You're doing a great job- love reading your blog :)

    Colleen @ PaRtY of 5

    p.s. this was probably the longest comment in blogland history- sorry! LOL

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    1. Colleen, I love this comment. :) Good memories and insights! I am finding that is IS so sweet to be in a place where I need Jesus every moment. And discovering how much I subconsciously DON'T think I need him and can go it on my own! I am constantly praying, "I need you, Jesus...help me not to forget that when things are 'going well.'"

      I have a close friend who is currently in similar shoes as you are...she has a 2 year old boy and 1 year old twin girls! I bet you two would get along smashingly (unfortunately, she doesn't have a blog...no time!).

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  11. Asking for help has been HUGE for me. I didn't learn that lesson at all after Julia, and just a wee bit after Hannah. But once Joseph was added to the mix, I realized just how much I couldn't do on my own. I took a knock to my pride, but it's been so good for me. Now, when the neighborhood kids are all playing, but I can't leave the house {because of a napping baby}, I just ask the mamas if the girls can join while I stay home. Or, I ask for help with carpooling. This has by far been the biggest lesson learned {and maybe to let a few things go... like how nice and clean I'd like my house to stay versus how *not* nice and clean it stays!}.

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  12. I wish I had planned better with the meals, not so much at the beginning because we had family bringing meals that first month (there's a Chinese thing about eating certain foods, etc), but afterward, not having to cook would have been nice for sure.

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  13. awwww These pictures are so cute! Congrats on the new addition!

    Stopping by for TopTenTuesday a little late, hope you have a great Wednesday!

    -Samantha
    kreativekaring.com

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  14. Thanks, Alicia. I appreciated this post. We are expecting baby #2 (I am currently 25 weeks pregnant) and I know it is going to be an overwhelming change.

    I also appreciate that Pinterest link. Heading there next. :)

    Blessings!

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  15. Still only one here - it's going to take me a long time to forget being pregnant! Thanks for the ideas though, hopefully I will use them one day :)

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  16. Meal planning. Now that's a concept I seriously need to start doing. I am lazy and since it's only the Hubster and I. Sometimes a quick run to Chick-fil-A is cheaper and WAY easier than cooking.

    Did you blog before you had your first baby? If so, I'd love to read the transition from couple to parents. So glad you are having fun with your new baby, Alicia!

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  17. This is so good, Alicia! I'm telling you that 1-2 transition was ROUGH on me! It took me months (LITERALLY) to really appreciate and be mesmerized by Asa. It was a hard one. So, I think just reminding yourself that this child is different and this experience is different is important. I had to tell myself that like 15 times a day.

    I also had to make up stuff for Lydia to do while I nursed Asa. Then always rewarded her when nursing was done w/a special activity, snack, etc.

    Great post!
    a

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  18. Thank you for this...particularly the piece about memorizing scripture...I have an almost seven year old and a three month old. The transition has been beautiful and trying all at the same time. I was having a mini-meltdown a few minutes ago and came across your post..thank you!

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