Transitioning from having one child to two children
Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t come with a manual and I had to learn by being thrown in at the deep end.
I literally got pregnant with my second child within weeks of having my first and all I can say is it was a very steep learning curve.
Being a mom for the first time is hard enough but I was pregnant while I was learning which was hugely challenging.
There were however some positives and I learned so much during this time. So, here are my top tips for making the transition from 1 child to 2.
Comments from people
I quickly realized that people’s comments when you are expecting baby no 1 to baby no 2 are quite different in nature going from ‘are you excited?’ or ‘is it your first?’
To a more questioning tone of ‘how will you cope?’ and ‘do you know how hard it is having them so close?’.
Thank you all for making me so scared of having my second child.
I kept thinking that if all of these people kept making the same
The question that kept me up at night was is it really that hard going from 1 to 2 kids? and how will I adjust going from one child to two children?
Pregnancy and delivery
Pregnancy is difficult when you have a small child. You don’t get the same amount of rest as you did with the first and you still have to do all the chores like cooking and cleaning whilst puking into a bucket.
The worst for me was changing diapers whilst pregnant, I would literally gag and throw up with every diaper change.
I was fortunate that because my first born was so young that he would still nap, this meant that I was able to get at least some rest during the day.
In fact, looking back on some days he would take 2 naps which really was a blessing.
Towards the end of my pregnancy my toddler loved his walker and although I ended up with bruised toes it was a safe place for him to be.
It also meant that I could have a little rest on the couch while he ran up and down in his little car walker.
With my firstborn I had an awful experience of childbirth, not thinking about all the options available and scenarios that may have arisen caused me so much distress on the day.
This time I decided to read as much as possible and had a birth plan full of ‘what if
The Ina May and the Hypnobirthing book were both instrumental in helping me get over my fears of childbirth.
Thankfully my second was a very quick and natural labor and I was home within a few hours of giving birth which was amazing!
Which leads me onto my next point.
You really need to heal after giving birth.
You really must take the time to take care of yourself after the birth of your second child. Keep taking your prenatal and fish oil supplements and have a read of HOW TO RECOVER AFTER BIRTH. The thing that aided me the most in my postpartum recovery was taking a SITZ BATH.
Make sure you eat healthy and nutritious meals; I would forget to eat sol I set alarms on my phone to remind me to eat lunch, dinner and have some healthy snacks.
if like me you were too proud to accept offers of help with your first baby, then you need to try to change your mindset. Just take people up on it, especially in the early days when you are trying to find your feet. I would even say if you need help don’t wait for people to offer just ask. Family and close friends are always happy to help if they can.
The newborn phase Is so much easier second time around
With Baby no 1 I stressed far too much about feeding, I wanted to get him into a routine from day one so I followed a very well-known routine based book where the baby gets up at 7 am and sleeps at 7 pm. I thought that by getting him into this routine from day 1 I would be doing the right thing but as we all know what we plan and what actually happens are two completely different things.
With my first child I was also obsessed with creating a freezer stash of breastmilk as I read it was so important to do this from day 1. What a waste of time and effort. it was taking me over 30mins to pump a few ounces and it was making me so stressed out not to mention when I got pregnant my milk supply totally dwindled.
I also used to dress my baby up every day in a nice new ironed outfit. Yes, again what a waste of time i would do this even if we weren’t going out anywhere, he was all dressed up with nowhere to go. I’m sure he would have been happy enough in a sleepsuit.
I also bathed the baby every night. Looking back now I think this was a pointless exercise, every other day would have been more than sufficient.
I started weaning my first born at 4 months old due to peer pressure after hearing comments like ‘he looks hungry’. What an absolute fuss, he wasn’t at all ready for solids and I shouldn’t have even started as it was taking literally forever to get a tiny spoon of pureed butternut squash into him.
I was also worried that he wasn’t crawling by 5months and I wanted him to walk quickly. I wasted so much energy watching him hit milestones that I didn’t enjoy those early months with him playing.
I was also worried he wasn’t saying single words at a year old, again he started speaking when HE was ready and not because I was so desperate to hear him talk.
So much changed with baby no 2.
With baby number 2 I fed on demand, I didn’t push him into any routine and after the initial struggles of breastfeeding, he naturally fell into his own routine at about 4 months when the breastfeeding was established.
The newborn lived in a sleepsuit and a cardigan, no fussing with cute outfits unless we were going out somewhere special. No ironing was involved and the baby wasn’t bothered. In fact, if the clothes weren’t dirty the next day baby could stay in the same outfit.
How I bathed a newborn and Toddler
I bathed the baby in the basin for the first few months and then I would bathe both boys together. It was a nice time for them to bond and enjoy each other’s company. This became even easier when the baby was able to sit up and I could be hands free to wash them.
How I would manage is by taking the changing mat and fresh clothes into the bathroom before running the bath. My older child had a bathrobe so that was easy. I would take the baby out first dry and change him on the mat whilst still in the bathroom, wrap him up and leave him on the mat while I quickly got the older one out. As the baby got bigger and started rolling, I then bought his baby chair or bumbo into the bathroom so he could sit in it while I got his brother out.
Weaning this time around was also hugely different from the first time around, instead of getting all stressed about it, I decided that I would breastfeed the baby for as long as possible and he was between 7-8 months old when we decided to get him onto solids and guess what? NO PUREES INVOLVED! Gone
Feeding them both the same food made life so much easier. I would sit them both at the dinner table and they would eat at the same time every day. I used this excellent chair for my toddler. He was a climber so the 5 point harness was very important. we would also use this chair for activities at the table.
We usually had the TV on just to get us through the meal but it was worth it. I would also make sure that I would eat as soon as the kids were fed, I would say at the same time but, I like to eat hot food and I can’t eat in peace until the children have eaten.
There seems to be some sort of obsession with people asking ‘is he sleeping through the night?’ when the baby is around a month old. Like seriously is there any baby that sleeps through at that age?
After having 5 kids the earliest any of my kids went to sleep for a longer stretch was at around 8weeks and even that I wouldn’t really class as sleeping through. I learnt very quickly that this was something not worth stressing about.
I just focused on feeding the baby and settling him. He slowly fell into his own sleeping routine which happened to be him in bed at 6:30- 7pm.
Your heart will love more
As cliché as it sounds, it really is the truth, and your love will continue to grow with them. My biggest fear when I got pregnant for the second time was how will I love another child as much as I adored the one I already had? But you really will and when you see them both playing together it will be worth every single sleepless night.
How to deal with fussing and moaning.
This is where the training starts; when your child starts fussing for your attention start getting them into a habit of waiting for you and not requiring your attention immediately. ‘just a minute honey’ or ‘mommy will be with you in just a minute’ are great ways of getting the child to wait for you. These few minutes will be invaluable when you have a new baby to deal with.
I have become the queen of multitasking.
So will you trust me, you will learn to breastfeed and occupy the older child. The one thing I wished I had known about was a baby carrier this would have saved me so much time and energy especially if I had learnt to breastfeed in one. With my fourth child, I used this one.
After having the kids so close together I soon learnt to breastfeed and change a toddler’s clothes, Pack the baby bag and get quickly get the kids in the car without absolutely losing the plot. I learnt how to cook quick meals whilst entertaining a screaming baby and an inquisitive toddler.
I was also able to shower very early on, after the baby would feed and sleep, I would give my toddler the iPad and take a 10minuite shower, unfortunately this wasn’t a good idea as soon as he touched the screen it would pause leading to lots of screaming. So, I quickly learnt to put the screen up high on the shelf and leave the bathroom door open so I could hear him.
The other alternative was to take showers at night while the toddler slept, this was difficult for me as my baby would cluster feed all evening, when he was about 3 months old things started to get better and taking a shower at night became a much better option for me.
When I was breastfeeding, I would keep a stack of ‘independent toys’ that my toddler could do while I fed the baby and if that failed then I guess we would be watching Cars for the 5th time that day.
Getting out and about with 2 small children
You may think staying indoors is easier then attempting to leave the house with two small kids but trust me there will come a point that you will have to leave the house and if you haven’t had any practice it will end in tears. However, rest assured that if you put a few things into place then getting out will be no problem.
Pack the diaper bag the night before if you can, you are more likely to forget something when you have 2 screaming kids distracting you. I used to pack my bag as I went along and replenish anything that I had used so my bag was always ‘ready’. My baby bag was more of a rucksack so that I had both hands free to deal with my kids
Invest in a harness, this means that you will be able to take both children to the car at the same time. I used to have a car seat that would literally click into its base which stopped all the hassle of having to plug the baby in using the seatbelt.
I also bought a double buggy
Opt for supermarkets that have trolleys with 2 seats. Some have a baby carrier and toddler seat too which is super helpful. Also, I always park as close as possible next to the trolley return bay. This way I can still see the kids when they are in the car.
Exhaustion is real
If you think pregnancy-related insomnia is bad wait until you have a newborn and a toddler who are both awake at night setting each other off. The baby cried all night for a feed and the toddler wanted cuddles and attention. It was an absolute nightmare. However, over the course of a few weeks’ things started to look up, the baby started to sleep for slightly longer hours and the toddler started to sleep through the baby’s crying which was amazing. We also found that reducing my toddlers daytime nap meant that he was sleeping much quicker and deeper meaning that he was waking up less often at night.
Do what you need to get you through the day, have a nap, drink shed loads of coffee and watch Netflix. This too shall pass and this exhaustion will be a thing of the past until of course you decide to have another baby!
Adjusting from one child to two takes time, but you will get there I promise!
Reasons why having the second child was easier then the first.
I get asked whether the ‘second child is easier or harder?’ I really do believe that the second was easier due to;
The small age gap meant that I wasn’t worried about school or daycare, both children were at home and I was able to keep their routines very similar. This may not be as easy when you have older children and you have to work around
By the time you have your second child you have already adapted to parenthood, you go out less, have less sleep and have far more responsibilities. You have worried about a child breathing and held a sick child in your arms all night. Now there is very little that phases you.
Second time around you will also have far more realistic expectations, I remember crying that breastfeeding wasn’t working in the first few days! I also remember being stressed and spending so much time trailing through the internet to find ways to help the baby sleep through the night, which I can laugh about now but at that time it seemed like a very real problem!
You have lots of coping mechanisms now in place be it the 10th cup of coffee or doing the deep breathing exercises you learnt at your prenatal class. You know exactly what your limits are and I will admit that I have had to put the baby in the crib and walk away a few times when it just gets to much. I take a few moments to breathe and reflect then come back to deal with the screaming child.
I didn’t have to worry about potty training and I changed both nappies at the same time. If you have a child that needs to be potty trained I would do it after you have established breastfeeding as I have noticed that children do sometimes regress in potty training and it’s the last thing you need when you are establishing your breastfeeding routine.
Your children will play together at some point but they will also argue, whine and bicker. You have to take the rough with the smooth but honestly those few tough years made up for the following easier years.
I would normally at this point recommend a book but I have yet to find a good one. Life experiences seem to be much more relevant here.
So, just to reiterate my 5 top tips for coping are;
2. Don’t stress about weaning
3. Don’t stress about whether you will love this baby less
5. Organisation is key