Tips from a Mom Who Survived a Second Baby
It's a pretty universally accepted opinion that the jump (blindfolded, with a cement block around your feet, into a rushing river) from one to two kids is the most challenging transition as a parent. For this reason, it's a popular blog topic, and as I prepared for my second daughter, to say I was horrified as I read through these posts is a little bit of an understatement. Of course I was excited to meet my new baby and give Beulah a sister, but I was also overwhelmed and a little bit scared. After all, I had JUST gotten the hang of one kid, and I was about to throw another dependent life into the mix?!?
At 19 months, Beulah was on a doable schedule—sleeping through the night, waking up around 7 a.m., using words to communicate and even going to daycare while I worked part time. I wrote about why I was horrified to have more children as I tried to prepare for adding a little lady to our brood. It's funny to read it now, because, while some of it rang true, some of it was completely wrong.
So, here are my TRIED AND TRUE tips of transitioning from one to two kiddos, written from a mom who struggled, barely survived and lived to happily tell about it.
- Find a happy medium between your kiddos' schedules. It's inevitable that your second child will spend more nap time in the car seat while you run errands or go on play dates. Some days accept the always on-the-go routine that you are used to may slow to a tortoise crawl with your new twosome. Your older child may nap once, while your sleepy newborn takes morning and afternoon naps. As soon as one gets up, the other goes down.
- Know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I have heard (and verified from experience) that this seems to be when the newest addition is around six months old. There may be days when things feel very difficult and you ask, "Can I survive another day?" YES; it will all pass. This is a season, mama, and brighter days are just around the corner. Hard to see now, but you will look back and these moments will feel like a flash in the pan.
- Do whatever it takes, previous beliefs and expectations aside, to survive. Don't feel guilty about giving your toddler your iPad or putting her in front of the TV for a few shows just to reclaim your sanity. Considering "crying it out" with your newest so you can (finally) get some sleep? That's okay (although I would definitely talk to your pediatrician about your plans first). Breastfeeding not an option this time? Formula is not evil! Just be flexible, and most important, don't be hard on yourself!
- Be educated about the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD). Just because you didn't have it with your first doesn't mean you can't or won't have it with your second. For me, PPD looked like a combination of uncontrollable rage (sounds lovely, doesn't it?) and feelings of disgust with myself as a mother and wife, with a few completely unreasonable thoughts on the side (such as "I can't get a babysitter because no one could handle these two children)." Yes—dramatic, delusional, and total signs of PPD.
If you think you might be experiencing PPD, the best thing you can do is talk to a professional. Start with your OB or primary care physician.
And remember, while trying so hard to take care of two, don't forget to take care of the one they need the most—YOU!
Tara Boyd, North Texas mother of three, to Beulah ("Boo"), Lucy ("Lu") and little brother Jacob, dishes practical advice on marriage, motherhood and munchies with humor and southern charm in her blog, Boyd Meets Girl.