Do you feel overwhelmed and afraid of having a 2nd child? Here are 7 tips to ease the transition from 1 to 2 kids and make the shift as smooth as possible.
A friend gave me the best advice: just aim to survive the first three months after birth – those are the hardest! I found this advice helpful when I first became a mom and then later when my 2nd daughter was born. Once you “survive” these first 3 months, things get easier and you can find a routine for your family.
Here are 7 tips to ease the transition from 1 to 2 kids. These things will help you survive (and even thrive) those first few months with your 2nd baby.
Talk about the new baby
Talk about the new baby often before he or she is born.
I talked to my first daughter often about the new baby sister she was going to have. When I was about 5 months pregnant we had picked out a name for her. We talked to her (in my belly) often, using her name. We read books about having a new baby in the house and watched (and re-watched) the Daniel Tiger episodes where Daniel’s mom is pregnant and then his new baby sister is born.
Accept all offers of help
I think that, as mothers, we have a tendency to feel like we can do it all (or should be able to do it all). This is a lie and is a byproduct of our society that highly values individual effort.
Let people help!
And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed (which you probably will at times) or things are not going the way you envisioned.
If your friend asks how she can help, be honest and tell her exactly what you need. If someone offers to do something for you, let her! Try not to feel guilty about it. You can always pay it forward later on by helping out another mom who needs it.
Meal train or freezer meals
If you have a good network of friends, ask one of them to set up a meal train for you. There is a meal train “committee” through our church and I can’t tell you how extremely helpful it was to have meals delivered to our house for the first few weeks after each of my daughters were born. This saved us time and energy in thinking up meals and cooking.
If you don’t have a close network of friends or family, plan ahead and make several large batches of meals that you enjoy and that you can freeze in portions (things like slow-cooker stews, soups, lasagna, pasta, etc.) Also, make sure you have some snacks (cheese and crackers, fruits, dried fruits, nuts, etc.) and quick-to-make meals (cans of soup, sandwich items, etc.) to make things to eat.
Related: Meal planning made easy
Daily connections with your older child
No matter how old your oldest is, there will most likely be times of jealousy over the new baby taking up so much of your attention.
I remember my oldest was 2 when her sister was born. She was so thrilled the day we brought the new baby home that she “read” her several books. A few days later we all went in for a newborn checkup. Right after the midwives oohed and aahed over the new baby, my oldest promptly smacked her across the face. Sigh. Thankfully, one midwife empathized by saying “It’s hard being a big sister, isn’t it?”. Whew!
Setting aside special time with your oldest doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. You can:
- Read to her while feeding or holding the baby.
- Snuggle in the morning while the baby is sleeping (or whenever).
- Play a special game.
- Share a favorite snack.
If you have a daily habit of special time and try to keep it up after the new baby is born, this will be very helpful!
Have the older sibling help
Kids love to be helpful – even toddlers! You can set aside a special box with items for your toddler to bring to you. Things like wipes, diapers, burp cloths, or toys for the baby or a water bottle for you.
(If your child is older and not as inclined to help, make special time a priority or offer to help him or her with something important – a special project, a favorite game, etc. Even just 10 focused minutes a day will help!)
Be patient with yourself
Things won’t go perfectly but you can make it through. Accept the fact that you will make mistakes (we all do) but that you can continue to move forward and work on improving (your parenting, your patience, etc.).
Soon you’ll develop a new normal and forget what life was like with just one child! Don’t stress about having everything perfect or clean all the time – give yourself some grace.
Time for yourself
Make sure that you carve out time for yourself (and use it!) By regularly scheduling time alone you will be able to recharge your own batteries and avoid burnout. This is so important!
After our second was born, there were several times when I was grouchy, crabby, and out-of-sorts for no apparent reason. Then, I left the house for a quick trip to the store or some other errand and realized it was because I needed some space and time to myself! Now, I make sure to schedule in these much-needed breaks.
Related: Great tips for simplifying mom life
Transitioning from one to two kids can feel overwhelming and challenging. You can definitely ease the transition by preparing ahead of time (with meals plan and by talking about the new baby). Be patient with yourself and aim to “survive” the first three months and things will get easier! I’d love to hear any other special tips you might have to help others transition from 1 to 2 kids!