One nice thing about having your second child is that you trust yourself more. You did it once, you can do it again.
You still worry about whether or not you can handle it all. But if you are worrying, then you can’t be calm and positive and trust yourself.
Knowing that our capacity to love and give only grows when we have another child helps with this worry. The more we give, the more we get back.
And we do get so much back from our children. The love and joy we get back from our children makes even the greatest challenges seem small. We already feel this with one child, and with two or three—or more but I can only speak for three—it is just magnified.
Here are some things that helped me stay positive and present when we welcomed our second and third.
- Trust yourself. You’re the only one who knows whats best for you and your child. Welcome tips and advice from others. But take it or leave it in the context that every child is different and very parent is different and each situation is unique. The same things that worked for your first child may not work for your second. You can handle anything that comes your way. Trust yourself and do what feels right. Be present, positive, and patient and what to do next will come to you.
- Baby carrier. Wearing your baby a lot is the best advice I can give. Get a wrap for the newborn stage and something with more support like an ergo for when they get a little bigger. Its good for the baby to have that closeness with you. And good for you to get on doing things that need to get done. I think being worn a lot helped my babies be calmer and with their sleep. The baby loves it and you’ll be able to carry on with life while carrying her.
- Baby time in the evenings. When people came over to help, I would usually give them the baby and spend time with the older children. During the day, I would give as much attention as I can to the older ones knowing they really need it now. Then when the children went to sleep, that would be my special uninterrupted time with the baby to just cuddle and let the baby nap on me.
- Nurse if you can. For me, nursing the babies was amazing. Nursing meant dedicated time for me to slow down and relax during very busy days. And it meant dedicated closeness with my baby everyday. It is tough through growth spurts and evening fussiness in those first few months when baby wants to nurse more regularly. But beyond those tough times, it is a total blessing to not have to worry about making bottles. To have it on demand whenever and wherever you need it. I know it’s not possible for everyone, but I encourage it to anyone who can knowing its hard at first but makes so much easier in the end.
- Snack time. Try to set up a snack for yourself and your other children around nursing times. You’ll need something to keep older one busy during feedings. Special activity bags are nice to pull out. Or snack time. Nutrient-rich quick snacks for you, like granola bars or brown rice cakes with humus or fruit and veggies, are really helpful to build into your day so your milk supply stays strong.
- Baby Proof your home. If you haven’t done this already, do it. There will be many times when you are changing diapers, nursing, or calming a crying baby that you need to know that your older child is safe. Do all the things they recommend because it is piece of mind knowing that if you are upstairs with the baby and your older child is downstairs alone that there is nothing that is really unsafe for them. Of course things can always happen, but knowing your older one is contained in a safe place, takes some stress off you. And the last thing you need during this time is more stress.
- Swing. I think a swing is greatest gift with second babies. All of my babies slept in swings during the day for the first three months. They sleep so well in it and you can still go about your daily activities with the older ones. The babies learn to sleep with all the noise and activity going on. When they weren’t being worn they were often swinging and they were calm. My babies loved it.
- Pacifier. I think a pacifier is another wonderful thing with second babies. Pacifiers helped my babies be able to go to sleep on their own. One of the best things with my second and third is that I didn’t have to rock them to sleep.I put them in their swing or crib and they were able to self soothe and go to sleep. Having a mobile in the crib really helps as well. The pacifier is golden those first few months. It helps them through those cranky times when they just need to suck and you need to make dinner or get your older child to school.
- Routine. This is one thing that is easier with your second. You already have a nice routine set with your older ones, so your baby falls into routine so much faster and they are better for it. I get them immersed in all our routines as soon as I can and this helped establish their own routine. For me, the more consistent the routine, the calmer the baby.
- Sleep for baby. Sleep begets sleep. You hear about it but you don’t think its true. It is. I always find my babies are happiest when they have a lot of sleep. I always made sure that baby is back to sleep within 2 hours of his last waking. So if baby wakes at 9am from nap, you should be putting him back down by 11am. Even if they just slept for 3 hours. Feed, play, and back to sleep. Let them sleep however they can, carrier, swing, carseat, stroller.
- Sleep for you. In those first few months, sleep whenever you can. Nap when the baby and older children are sleeping. I think somewhere around 3 months is when life can resume again somewhat because you are getting regular sleep. You can get your evenings back because baby is going to sleep around 7 when the other children go to sleep. You can either go right to sleep then too. Or you can have some time with your husband, read a book. It can be sooner for some but 3 months is when most colic ends, baby sleeps longer and regular intervals. I believe that sleep deprivation is the toughest thing in the first couple months. Once we are getting some sleep again, life changes and everything is better.
- Perspective. It’s amazing how your perspective shifts when you have another child. An outing with just one child now feels like a breeze. One-on-one time is such a blessing. You’ll wonder why you ever thought it was complicated before. That shift in perspective is really wonderful. It helps us appreciate more moments. Seeing beauty in little things like a nap with your baby cuddled on top of you. You cherish it more.
- One-on-One time with your older ones. They will need extra love from you. That is why when they are awake, I try to give them as much time and attention as I can. It will be hard because you will be tapped and you need your time too. You will find energy you didn’t know you have and giving special time to them prevents them from breaking down as badly with meltdowns, negative behavior. If you feel like you have no energy from a long night, take a quick shower or go for a walk. Don’t be afraid to bring whomever you need to into the bathroom with you while you get that shower. Just do something when you feel lifeless gives you energy you need to go on.
- Get out. Take advantage of this time when the baby will just sleep in the stroller. You can do a lot with your older one. Your older one will be better after trip to park or zoo. Everyone will feel better and refreshed with fresh air. Look on the websites of local places. Many have a nursing room. That way you can nurse baby and have your older one with you and then go about the outing. Snacks or some kind of activity are helpful during those times.
- Plan. Your planning will come into effect more than ever. You’ll want to be prepared to head out and do things right after you feed your baby. Because you’ll usually have a 3-hour window then. Because feeding baby while watching child is tough. Always having some snacks and activities on hand help with nurse sessions while you are out. Doing it in the car works because your older one is contained. Save some screen time for nursing times as well. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. The more you can do proactively the better.
- Say yes to help and ask for it if you need it. Whether its someone offering to hold the door for you or a neighbor offering to watch your older one for a couple of hours. Say yes. People are kind and do want to help. It makes them feel good and gives you a break. They say the greatest way to gain a friend is to ask a favor of them. If your feelings are really bad, talk about it with your doctor, your family. Talk to someone, anyone. Don’t let yourself be alone with feelings. There is so much going on in your own body and you are caring for two other humans who have so many needs. You need to take care of you. Reach out if you need to. There is help out there to make you feel better so you can be better for your family.
- Take one breath to become mindful. It only takes one moment of mindfulness to change your reaction from frustration to calm. To choose love over anger. To choose an adult reaction instead of belittling. When you are about to lose it choose to take one breath. Focusing on breath will help you choose differently. To zoom out and not feel as frustrated. To see the positive in something that seems negative. One positive thought can change the direction of thoughts from sloping up to sloping down.
- Make time for you. Your days will be filled. You have to make some time for you in your busy day. Your emotional state is so important and doing something that fills you up helps that. You an easily reach a slippery negative slope if you don’t have control of your emotions. You are better equip to handle whatever comes your way if your emotional state is positive. And some time for yourself helps that. Early on, it may only be 10-minutes. But 10 minutes may be all you need to rejuvenate. And then take more time as it becomes available.
You can do it, Mama!
Yes there will be challenge and highs and lows as there always are in parenting, But the highs will be higher and that’s what gets you through the lows. You’ll be challenged in new ways but you will triumph too in ways you didn’t think were possible.
And try to remember the moments with little ones are fleeting. Enjoy them. Try to be present, and positive, and prepared so you can be your best. Take care of you so you can enjoy more with your children. They have so much love to give you, but you have to be open to receiving it. And that comes from presence and positive.