Before Noah was born, I admit...I was very apprehensive about how adding a second child to the family would be.
We'd got ourselves all settled with our 2 year old - everything swam along nicely, there were no real issues, each day was pretty straight forward on the whole - and as excited as I was to have another baby and see my son bond with a sibling, I was worried about upsetting the apple cart.
Everything was so perfect as it was - what if a new baby spoiled things somehow? What if Tyne didn't like the baby? What if he was jealous? What if the baby cried all the time and woke Tyne up all night long? What if the new baby was a much more difficult child than Tyne had been and we couldn't cope?
And then there were all the other concerns - how would we keep up with two children at once? Other people do it sure, but could WE?! How would I split my time fairly between them? How would I split my affection? Would I be able to love another baby as much? What if I resented the new baby for taking me away from Tyne?
These concerns may seem crazy and irrational to some, but they were so very real to me and so very frightening.
I panicked a lot, I even cried pretty often over these worries I had.
I've since come out the other side and now I hear friends of mine voice the very same concerns, and I just want to put my arms around them and somehow make them see that it WILL be ok...that it's NOT as bad as it seems like it will be.
It sounds wrong to say that because so many people desperately want a second child and for various reasons can't have them, but those of us going through these emotions know that and we ARE grateful for the chance to have more children...but it doesn't alleviate the worry that this baby might be more than we can deal with.
I'm 5 months in to life with two children, and I won't lie - it was difficult for me at first to adjust. I struggled with post natal depression this time which I didn't have first time around, I didn't bond greatly immediately with Noah...it took a while.
For some people I'm sure they felt it all click into place sooner than I did, some people I'm sure find it takes longer - but we'll all get there in the end.
I wrote a post about Managing Life With A Toddler & A Tiny just after Noah was born but I wanted to write something more specific about those worries I had in pregnancy and the ways I've dealt with what life has thrown at us since...I've put together a list of a few things I've done to make the transition easier, in the hope that it might help one or two of you who are struggling with the same concerns.
1) Extra Planning
I have found that taking just a little bit of extra time to plan and prepare has been completely invaluable to me.
Sit & think about what the most stressful moments of your day are, and then try to trouble shoot - how can you make them easier on yourself?
For example - the most stressful parts of the day for me are mealtimes - trying to prepare lunch for my older child while the younger one starts crying and needs seeing to. Trying to prepare a family dinner while hoping the baby doesn't need attention halfway through, etc.
So I started to save time where I could - I started to prepare my sons lunch the night before. Ok it means he's spent a while surviving on sandwhiches, wraps, salads, cous cous, chicken rice dishes etc but he doesn't complain, and it's there ready for him straight from the fridge as soon as he needs it with no fuss and no stress - and it means I get to take a little longer over making it cute, making sandwhich shapes and so on - all of which go a way toward easing that dreaded Mummy Guilt!
I also plan my meals for the whole week now and try to choose ones that involve minimal fuss to make - things that can all be slung into the slow cooker in the morning and be ready to dish right up at dinner time are a winner!
I also don't allow myself to feel guilty for buying pre-sliced veg, it saves me time - and if I don't buy it then I slice & dice everything the evening before so its all ready to use when I need it. Valuable minutes shaved off which really do matter when the pressure is on!
2) Making time for the older child
Making time for my toddler was at the forefront of my mind when his baby brother came along, but I soon found myself getting overwhelmed at always trying to be available and saying yes to everything he wanted to do so he didn't feel pushed out.
They DO need to learn that your time needs to be shared now, so it is important not to let the guilt in and to let them know when the other child needs you - I always made sure to choose my words carefully and offer up a solution along with my explanation of why I wasn't currently available - something along the lines of "Mummy needs to change Noah's nappy right now, but as soon as I'm done you & I will sit together and read that story."
I found it really helped me to start having one evening a week set aside as "Mummy & Tyne" time - every Friday he's allowed an "extra late stay up" where his bedtime is put back by an hour once Noah is in bed, and that hour is our time just to play together, watch TV together, read stories or do whatever he wants to do - most of the time he just likes to snuggle up and chat about things, so it's hardly using any extra energy of mine but he's getting that all important mummy time and it's so lovely to have one-on-one time with him - it also helps to stave off the mummy guilt when you know that special evening is coming!
3) Making time for baby
As I said above, my focus was always on making time for my toddler and I partially blame that for not bonding with Noah for a while - I was putting too much pressure on myself to ensure nothing changed for Tyne and he didn't feel pushed out, but I needed to realise that Noah deserved me just as much and it was just as important to give time to him too.
It can be difficult to make time for the baby when the older child is around, particularly if there is any jealousy shown, but it's not impossible to do - if you have a partner ask them to spend an hour or so alone with the older child once a week or however often suits you, while you go off to another room with baby and spend some time together. If a partner isn't available then do this when the older child is asleep for the night.
My favourite way to do this is to go upstairs with Noah and take a bath with him - it's relaxing for both of us, and it's such a lovely bonding experience. There are no interruptions from his older brother who is enjoying Daddy time downstairs or in bed, and it's just time for Noah & I to sit together, soak in the bath together, relax and bond...it's one of my favourite times of the week!
4) Remember...This too shall pass
I know I said this in my last post but it's so true - everything we experience as parents is just a phase and it will not last forever.
As difficult as it may seem, it will be over with one day and chances are that you'll miss the chaos so try to embrace it in the moment.
Right now my laundry is taking over our entire landing - the baskets are not even visible underneath the mountain of dirty washing and ironing that needs to be done! - but I refuse to let it stress me out because do you know what? The laundry will NEVER all be done.
Just as soon as that pile is tackled, there'll be another pile to replace it in a few days time...
Just as soon as this house is tidied up, and hoovered & polished from floor to ceiling - the dust and mess will start building back up again.
These household chores will NEVER be complete - but the children WILL grow up.
I know which I'd rather spend my time with, and which I'll get the most out of.
In summary I honestly believe that things RARELY work out as badly as you imagine them to in your mind.
You find your way as you go, you find new ways to make things work, and eventually it all comes together and you can't even remember how life was before the new baby came along.
And you certainly wouldn't change it for the world.
Is it double the work...yes, but it's double the love and reward too and that really can't be beaten.
And when you see that sibling bond grow...it's worth every second!
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