Tips for Transitioning From One to Two Kids

Having one baby changed your life. You were suddenly in charge of a little life, and that meant feeding them. Keeping them from crying (and thus melting your brain). Loving them. Doing fun things with them.

And then, you found out you're going to have another baby. 

How crazy can having two kids be? you may wonder. I kept one alive and happy, so surely I can do it all again. 

You're right, friend. You totally can do it all again. But let me warn you: IT WILL BE CRAZY.

(Aren't new things always crazy though? Starting a brand new job, moving to a new place, having that first baby. Whether your kids are one year apart or 7 years apart: it will be a wild transition, just because it's something new.)

For me, having one baby felt totally manageable. Aiden slept 6 hours straight at night from the beginning (I'd wake up in a panic that he must have died because HOW COULD A NEWBORN SLEEP SO LONG?!), he had my full attention, and I could easily figure out what he needed. Then, when Aiden was 20 months old, I had my daughter Emma. And all she did was cry! It didn't help that my first experience as a mom to two kids included a colicky, sleepless infant (plus I had some  postpartum depression!). My transition from one to two kids was especially crazy, but even if I hadn't had those specific challenges, it still would have been new territory for me. And with the newness can come difficulty as we adjust.

I've rounded up my mom friends and asked them for all their advice, so I'm not just sharing what one amateur mom suggests (hi, that's me). These are tips from lots of different moms who are also parenting 2+ young kids!

My suggestions: 
  1. Once you bring that new baby home from the hospital, start with really low expectations for your day. If you get yourself and one out of two kids dressed and nothing else gets done, call it a successful day. Don't stress yourself out with a long daily to-do list (I'll do laundry! And read my older child a stack of books! And make dinner featuring kale and 5 other vegetables!). 

  2. Ask for help and accept help. My best friend Heidi literally offered to clean my bathroom the day she came over to meet my new baby girl. She knew it wouldn't be a task that got done as I recovered from delivery and parented a toddler, and she was so kind to offer to do something practical! It was humbling to say yes, but it really wasn't something I would have had time to do for weeks. And when you need help from your spouse, ask for it. Be clear with what you need! It's ok to need help, and you don't need to do it all. 

  3. Have a small present for the new older sibling "from the new baby," and bring it to the hospital for when the older sibling meets the new baby. I wish I had done this, but thankfully my mom and mother-in-law knew what's up and had little toy cars for Aiden when he met Emma! It made him feel special and then he also had something to play with in the hospital room when the excitement over a little human wore off. 

  4. When you're recovered and feeling ready to leave the house, give yourself a full hour to get everyone ready to leave. I constantly stressed myself out by only giving myself 15 minutes before we had to leave to try to nurse Emma, take newly-potty-trained Aiden to the bathroom, pack my diaper bag, etc. 

  5. Talk to your midwife/OB if your emotions feel out of control. When Emma was born, I felt horribly inadequate because I had a baby who cried nonstop and a toddler who needed my attention. I couldn't keep anyone happy, and I cried every day. But once I talked to my midwife about my emotional struggles, she started me on hormonal birth control which helped level me out emotionally. Even though my circumstances hadn't changed (I still had a crying newborn and a toddler who needed help with everything!), I suddenly felt better equipped. 

  6. Take videos. Not just pictures. Take videos of the older sibling meeting the baby, of the older child talking to the baby, of their interactions as they get older. It is PRECIOUS to look back on old videos and hear Aiden's 2-year-old voice saying "hi, baby girl!" to 3-month-old Emma. 

My mom friends' advice: 
  1. Get ready for the day the night before: lunches packed, snacks easy to grab, diaper bag packed, clothes laid out. --Colleen

  2. Sleep when the baby/toddler sleeps. No, actually. --Colleen. 

  3. Get the older child involved with the baby care because they love helping out. --Colleen

  4. Grocery delivery (like Instacart) --Jordan

  5. When possible, do the big transitions as far before your due date as you can (like potty training or switching to a toddler bed) so the toddler doesn't associate these big changes with the new baby. --Jenn

  6. Make a point to tell the baby good things about the older sibling while the older sibling is in earshot. --Jenn

  7. Say to the baby outloud, "You need to wait while I help your big brother with ____." Otherwise, all the older child hears is you telling them they need to wait while you pay attention to the baby. --Hannah

  8. Manage your own expectations. --Colleen

  9. When the haze has lifted, try to have one-on-one time with your first child. --Mindy

  10. When the older child meets the new baby for the very first time, make sure someone else is holding the baby so you can have your arms open to them. --Mindy 

  11. Teach your older child a few things they can do independently before the baby arrives (like putting on their own coat). --Crystal 

  12. Learn to let go...."I’m doing my best to keep up with getting out of the house, limiting screen time, eating healthy, etc. but honestly I'm not doing great at it. But--no use feeling guilty about it (trust me, I do, but I know it's not helping). So do your best and let go of the rest!" --Courtney, mom of 2 kids under 2 years old. 
Thank you to all the amazing moms who shared their practical advice!

A round-up of advice from 10 moms who have 2 little kids, on how to make the transition from one kid to two kids a little easier! via @ahopefulhood // #momlife #parenting #twokids #newbaby

Mamas, I want to hear from you! What are your concerns about going from 1 to 2 kids? What worked for you when you added another child to your family? 

What advice would you give to someone starting something new? 

More tips + tricks: 5 things no one told me about labor | 7 things nursing moms should know | How to be friends with a toddler mom

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