The transition from no children to one child is often considered more or a challenge than going from one child to two. And while having your first is certainly quite the experience – having your second is challenging in a completely different way, and you may find yourself surprised by the sheer force of it.
My daughter is currently expecting her second (I have a hunch it’s a girl, she thinks it’s a boy) – and we’ve been having a lot of conversations about how best to prepare for their new bundle of joy.
Today I’m sharing some of our conclusions, which will hopefully help you welcome your second child as prepared as you can be.
Don’t Expect to be Completely Relaxed
Having gone through the stresses of being a mother for the first time, you’ll certainly be more relaxed the second time around. You’ll have learned how best to address all kinds of situations that once seemed like emergencies – their first coughs, their tummy aches, sleepless nights and fussing over their food.
However – even though you are now definitely wiser, don’t expect yourself to be fully relaxed. You’ll still get those flutters of anxiety, and you’ll still get that rush of panic every now and then – and that’s perfectly all right.
Don’t Expect the Same Kind of Love
What my daughter is most worried about is how her emotional life will change.
She keeps pondering very deep questions: do you really love both of your children equally, do you subconsciously treat them differently, how do you make sure they both feel the same amount of love and they both get all the time with their parents they need?
The only answer I can give her (and you) is that she won’t feel the same kind of love. It will be just as powerful, just as life-altering and just as deep as with the first child, but it will also be completely different.
At least that’s how I felt – but I would love to know what your emotions were like with your second child!
My main piece of advice centers around organization. You are already aware of a lot of the routines you’ll have to perfect: feeding, napping, changing, bath time, getting some sleep.
The routines stay the same – but you need to factor in that there are now two tiny humans vying for your attention, and that you can’t just nap when the baby is napping. You need to spend time with your older child too.
Start by explaining to your firstborn what it will be like when the baby arrives. Don’t say nothing will change and that mummy and daddy will still be there. There will be times when you’ll both have your hand full.
Tell them honestly that you’ll need to take care of the baby and that sometimes you won’t have your hands free – but that this won’t ever mean you love the baby more.
Get them to help too, however they can.
Also make sure you are streamlining dishes, cooking, and laundry.
A dishwasher (if you don’t already have one) is an excellent investment right about now.
You should also do your best to prep your meal beforehand, and do them in batches as often as you can (at least for you parents). Enlisting the help of friends and family to deliver some food in those first couple of weeks, while you get your routines down, is always helpful too.
I’ve already kitted my daughter out with a lot of items I found helpful. She’s now the proud owner of a colorful collapsible laundry basket that her daughter can move from the nursery to the bathroom and load the washing machine (she’s going on four).
She also has a new breast pump, a new pillow and a new diaper bag.
Think of the routines that worked for you (anything from when to turn on the laundry to who gets to sleep when) – and try to emulate some of them. Be mindful of the fact that your newborn won’t behave according to the same patterns, and you will have to adjust.
Jealousy is Normal
The question that is probably most acutely on the mind of every parent about to have their second child is will my oldest be jealous of the baby.
The answer is most often yes and no.
And while I could write a whole article on the subject of jealousy between siblings, the most important piece of advice on that account is this: being jealous of your younger sibling is normal, and your child is entitled to this emotion.
How you respond is the key.
Teach your older child how to help with the baby, and get them involved.
Provide plenty of reassurance and understand that they might be feeling threatened and unloved, even if you’ve not provided an actual reason for these emotions.
Don’t use the baby as a reason for not doing something. Instead of saying “I can’t help you now, the baby needs me”, say “I can help you in 5 minutes”.
Tell them about your own relationships with your siblings, and how you got over any rough patches.
Your Priorities will Change, Again
Just like everything has shifted when you had your first child, things are about to shift again
You’ll not have as much time for friends and hobbies, but you are already expecting that.
What you do need to prioritize, even more than before, is taking care of yourself.
Your energies will be drained more than you can imagine – and you will need to keep recharging your batteries often, and not let yourself get to the point of utter exhaustion.
I completely understand the urge to deal with everything else and yourself last – but trust me, you need to put yourself near the top of that list, even if that means something doesn’t get tidied.
To Sum It Up
Having your second child is a whole new adventure – equally familiar and unknown. While you’ll certainly be more prepared for it in certain respects, don’t forget that you will also have to combat a whole new set of challenges. Don’t expect a smooth ride, be ready for a new bout of sleep deprivation – but also know that having two youngsters around every day is a joy like no other.
About the Author
Joyce is a mother of two and grandmother of one (going on two). She is now a stay-at-home wife (formerly a stay-at-home-mum), which has led her to become a hesitant blogger at The Confused Nester.