Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Although we now know what life is like as a mum, adding a second child to the mix is still a huge adjustment and it can take some time to adapt. Here are 5 things I wish I knew before having my second baby.
1. Having baby number 2, can be a completely different experience
Things you used to be able to do with just one baby – for example, sit on the couch all day while they sleep on you, is just not going to happen now. Breastfeeding may not be as ‘relaxing’ this time, as you may be trying to fit in a quick feed before your toddler needs your attention again, rather than being able to just sit gazing into their eyes while they feed for an hour. Many of my friends loved their baby carrier, so baby number 2, could just sleep on them while they went about their day. Miss C was not a fan of the carrier, so I often just had to hold her on my shoulder with one arm, while I did things with my other arm (that is, until she was too heavy). I also had bouncers everywhere – safely in the back corner of the kitchen bench, in the bathroom, in the bedroom etc. It was great to be able to quickly strap her in with a couple of toys and know I could quickly run and tend to Mr I, knowing she was safe (even if she did cry). Mr I used to also try to ‘çuddle’ her a bit too affectionately, and I could not leave them unattended for even one second (remembering he was only 18months when she was born). The bouncer up on my kitchen bench was my saving grace, so I could cook dinner whilst keeping an eye on her, but also knowing Mr I could not get to her. Although, in some respect, all newborns are alike - the experience you had with your first, will probably be nothing like your second, so just keep an open mind and go with the flow!
2. You can never truly prepare the first child, for a second child.
Even if they see your growing baby bump, and you try to explain it and talk to them about it as much as possible, no child can be truly, fully prepared for the addition of a sibling. We don’t even realise how much life will change – how can we expect them to?! Of course, the older they are, the more likely they will understand, but it can still be a shock, even to older children. Toddlers, in particular, are unpredictable in how they will react. It is almost impossible to explain it to a 1.5 - 2yr old, and most toddlers I know end up acting out in some way. This is completely normal. Mr I was actually fine at first; it was a few weeks later, when he realised Miss C was here for good, that his behaviour was affected. As I’ve shared before, I struggled during the newborn phase with both of my children, so I was already trying to cope with having a second baby, but then add in an active toddler?! It was a lot. My husband had to keep reminding me again and again, imagine Mr I – his whole world is literally turned upside down, he now has to share the two most important people in his world, with this other child. Just be aware, that it will take time for all of you to adjust, and try to still spend one-on-one time with your toddler and show them they are still completely and utterly loved.
3. Organisation is your friend
I get it. You have two little ones, how on earth can anyone expect you to be organised? This is how I felt. However, over time I realised, organisation is your friend. Having some snacks on the ready and meals prepped, can be a massive help. You can quickly heat up a meal for your toddler, whilst tending to your baby. Mr I occasionally still needed some assistance during meal time (especially with messy foods like porridge), and I remember standing in front of the highchair, holding my tiny newborn in one arm, breastfeeding, whilst assisting Mr I with the other. Good times, haha! Having a basket of ‘busy’ activities is also helpful. Blocks, trains, stickers, duplo, basic puzzles, favourite books – anything that your toddler loves, that can be done with little assistance. If the newborn has just done a poo explosion, and you’re trying to clean it up with an 18month old whinging and pulling at your pants, it is handy to be able to quickly grab an activity to try to distract them for five minutes. If you have the basket up high with activities that are rarely used, they are more likely to excite and entertain them. I used to have certain little toys I would only take with us when we went out for dinner, so they were new and exciting, with the hope we could eat in semi-peace. Spending a little bit of time organising yourself is so worth it, even if you need to do it while your children are happily playing, sleeping or when your spouse is home.
4. It will take time to find your groove
It’s not going to happen overnight. You may have had an awesome routine with your first, but that is now completely thrown off. It’s ok. Don’t expect to just ‘slot’’ the newborn in. We attempted to keep Mr I in his routine as much as possible, however you are now trying to incorporate another child and their needs also, so you will most likely need to rework things a bit. You may need to be flexible, and it could take time to find a new routine that works for all. Just take one day at a time, and remember that it will get easier. For a little while, I honestly felt like I would never be able to get a semblance of a routine with the two. Slowly but surely, I did. You will get there. It may take some people longer than others, and that’s ok. Just do what you need to, to get through the day. Mr I watched way more TV than I care to admit when Miss C was a newborn, but I needed it for my sanity. If you feel like you are going insane, it is going to domino effect onto your children and your house. They can sense when we are feeling anxious or unsettled. Trying to keep the house a safe, peaceful place will benefit everyone. Talk to people you know who have been through similar things… it helps. Having two little ones is all a juggling act, as you prioritise whose needs must be met first. I am thinking about doing a post solely on ‘juggling’ tips? (If you’re keen let me know!) You will find what works for you, I promise 😊
5. Housework will always be there
You may have been able to maintain a level of cleanliness when you only had one child. It is a whole other story when you add a newborn to the mix. Many times, I was on the couch breastfeeding while Mr I was destroying the house, leaving toys everywhere (and I mean everywhere). In the moment, I could not care less. He was entertained and I could feed without him climbing all over me (win!). However, later I would then feel overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning it up. Personally, I like having a tidy, clean house. I used to never leave the house without a clean kitchen (haha- pre child me). I have since learnt, that my house will never be completely clean, for long. I now have two under four, and although I can clean more since I don’t have a baby living on my hip, they also make twice the amount of mess. I find, by just staying on top of certain essential cleaning (eg the kitchen, changing the towels) and try and do small loads of washing regularly, helps. I’m also going to do a post at a later date, on some housework tips living with two toddlers. I had an unrealistic expectation on housework with children, people think because you are home all day, you have all day to clean…. yeah right? *Face palm*… doesn’t quite work that way! Just be kind to yourself! Of course, there are certain things we need to do to maintain basic levels of hygiene, but your house does not need to be spotless. It’s much more important to spend time with our children, creating memories and having fun! Something I STILL need reminding of! Housework will always be there; our babies will not always be babies!
These are 5 things I wish I knew before having my second baby, what are yours?