Ever heard of the expression – One is lonely, two is company, three is a party and four is a crowd? This is definitely a thought that goes through many a parent’s mind when they receive the news that they are expecting Number 2.
Certainly, friends of mine who are expecting a new addition to the family are pretty panicky.
“Will we have enough love and time to cope with two small children?” “Will I have to give up my career?” “What if the big brother bullies gets jealous and starts bullying the baby?” “Will I have to give up breastfeeding the older child?” “Will I go crazy?” All these questions and many more are on their minds daily.
These are just a few nuggets of advice gleaned from seasoned mums:
1. Trust that you will love them the same
Don’t worry mummy. While your older child may not quite the same amount of attention as he did before, there will always be room for him in your heart. The heart is amazing, as is the capacity of a parents’ love. Just remember to tell your older child that you love them, and make time to reconnect daily, even with something as simple as a hug, as often as you can.
2. Expect it to be hard
The first few months will be characterised by exhaustion and chaos as you try to establish a new routine. You’ll be juggling #1 and their mealtimes, bedtimes, bath times with #2 and all their different needs, while also juggling your own needs and your spouse’s. There will be less sleep and a lot more crying.
Your house will look like a hurricane just went through it. Just remember to take breaks when you can. When things get too much, breathe deeply and count to 10. The phrase “This too shall pass” is a really handy one to remember!
3. Expect it to be easier
Remember obsessing over every single detail of every minute when #1 came along? How long he napped, how many wet diapers, what the poop looked like, all the research into what’s “best” for your precious little one. Well most mums agree – you’ll be a lot more laid back when #2 comes along. There will definitely be moments of panic, because every baby is different. But because you’ve already gone one round with #1, you’ll have more confidence this time around.
4. Find ways to cope and handle two kids
Prepare to get some help with the older child. Plan to have family members or close friends come over to entertain your older child during the first week or two, while things are still new and you may still be in recovery from the birth. Relax a bit when it comes to routines, yes we mean letting #1 have dinner in front of the TV, on the floor. You need the time to figure out how to make things work so in the meantime, the strict rules can wait.
5. Include #1 in raising #2
Even before the littlest one arrives, talk to your older child about his new sibling and the change in his role. Give him lots of positive affirmations about having a new sibling – it’s someone to play with, someone who will look up to him. Make a big deal of how special it is to be an older sibling.
Then get him (if he wants) to help care for the baby. Shake a rattle for baby, get her a diaper, give her a toy, small things that mean so much. Including your older child and making them feel important is a great step to curbing the jealous feelings and resentment that may occur.
6. You’ll find a new normal before you know it
There’s no way your life will ever be the same again, just as it was when #1 came along all those years ago. But trust in yourself, and trust in your family, that a new normal is just around the corner! Meanwhile, embrace all the extra smiles, giggles and hugs!