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