Speaking as a mama who welcomed her second babe into our family earlier this year, I totally get what all those mama bloggers were going on about when they talk about "the transition." Because, ohhhh mama, this has been a transition.
The crazy truth is we're still working out the kinks six months in.
When you have a toddler who's used to taking up all of your attention, it can be an absolute shock to both your systems when a new little one is introduced to the mix and needs a lot (oh my gosh so much) of your time. At whatever age your first babe is when their new sibling is born, there are going to be new challenges and all sorts of changes.
So the million dollar question is how do you transition from one kid to two?
Every family is going to answer this question a little differently, and not every tip is going to work for every mama or big brother/sister in the same way or in the same amount of time. But to help out all those mamas out there like me who are getting used to having two little ones in the house, I put together a little list of tips for both you and the older sibling at home!
Alright so here's the deal, mama--you aren't going to have a lot of time to get anything done. Like...no time. And as soon as your new babe comes home with you, it becomes apparent really quickly that any time you used to have to do little things like cook dinner, shower, or watch the occasional LifeTIme movie, have now been swallowed up in the void that is an infant. This is when prepping becomes your best friend. Get yourself some meals that you can pop in the crockpot in the morning, turn it on, and then serve it up once Daddy gets home from work. Get all your laundry done on the weekends while dad's home to help with the kids so you're not killing yourself to get a few loads done while your babe is screaming and your toddler is begging for you to roll out his Playdoh. I'm not saying it's going to solve all your problems, mama, but trust me when I say getting a few things out of the way when you have an extra set of hands to help out is truly going to make your day-to-day much better.
- There's Enough Love to go Around
This is something that our little family is still working on teaching our toddler and something that I'm still teaching myself: from moment to moment it will feel like there is not nearly enough mama to go around. There are too many boo boos to kiss, too much crying to calm, or too many problems to solve, and your heart just can't stretch enough to give all the love that your little ones need. You will feel like you are shorting one of your kids to give another one more attention (and in the beginning it's going to be the newborn). The great news is our kids love us more than any single person on the planet, and they are exceptionally forgiving. If you need to ignore your toddler for a couple of minutes while you nurse the baby, or ignore some little cries from the newborn while you read a book to your toddler, it will all. balance. out. You will find the happy place where everyone begins to accept the split in resources that is Mama, and there IS enough love to go around.
Probably now more than ever before, you need to be making time for yourself every once in a while. Make sure and communicate well with your husband about the amount of time that you'll need either in the evenings or during the weekends to just be by yourself. Whether that means that you need to go to the grocery store alone for once and walk down every aisle (because why not?), get your nails done and sit in those fantastic massage chairs, or if you just need to be able to lock the door to your room and read a book/take a bath/sleep, do it. Taking time for yourself helps you recharge. So stop responding to baby coos and toddler babble, and get yourself ready to tackle the next 6 hours.
- Special Time and Special Things
So now that you have a new tiny babe in the house who is sucking up a lot of Mama's time, it's important that your toddler knows there are still special things that you do only with them, and that they can depend on you to remember and follow through on those things. For our little guy, it was important for us to continue our special bedtime routine that had become a habit, and we have since made sure to do other little things here and there to make sure he knows that he is still just as important to us as the new baby. I spend a little extra time with him in the mornings reading books and playing with toys before baby needs to be fed to get a little one-on-one time with him. Sometimes daddy will take just our toddler out to the store, or to get something to eat so that he can get individual attention.
- Independent Play is Important
This is something that I recommend working on before your babe comes (something I wish I would have done more) because if your toddler is ready to do it before baby comes, it won't be such a shock once baby shows up to ruin all their playtime with Mama. Give your older child some time in his room after you hear him wake up from his nap to play
with his toys or read books
, or set him up at the table in his booster with some crayons, or a couple of puzzles, and do your best not to engage with them for a few minutes. Letting your toddler work on playing with themselves for a couple minutes a few times a day will absolutely improve your overall mood in the house. You won't feel like you're breaking your kid's heart every time you're changing a diaper/nursing a baby/cleaning up spit up and can't immediately drop everything to sit on the floor and play. But make sure you are taking those little opportunities to sit and play whenever you can, so they still know you're interested in what they're doing and love hanging out with them just as much as ever.
- Getting Together with Friends
So being a toddler is this super fun time when kids are learning how to go from being completely uninterested in other kids to loving
having other kids around to play with. Getting your toddler into a good little group of friends will help her social understanding of others when it comes to sharing, taking turns, and playing nicely with others. Once your new babe arrives, it will definitely be hard for her to accept that there is someone around all the time
playing with her toys
, in her room and with her parents. Playing with other kids as much as possible leading up to babe's arrival can help with the transition. You should also do your best to make sure she has steady interaction with a little friend group even after babe is born. It will really help your toddler to be able to spend time with her friends playing at the park or at a friend's house without needing to worry about being "safe around baby" which is seriously something I say 40 times a day to our toddler.
While these tips aren't going to make your life easier overnight, and they're probably going to be common sense to a lot of mamas when they're bringing home baby number two, I hope that they will help give you a couple of things to work into your schedule to help make your mama life a little bit easier once you have two kids to look after instead of one. Just remember to be patient with yourself, be patient with your kids, and drink as much caffeine as you want. You'll get this transition thing down in no time mama! XO