Baby number two is wonderful. Even more love and excitement and memories come with your second baby.
Your second baby is also double the work and challenge. Some would say that two little ones are quadruple the challenge at times.
Just when you may have thought you had this parenting thing down…
It’s okay. Every parent feels that momentary panic when they look around, baby in arms, firstborn at their feet, a to-do list a mile long, and sleep deprivation playing tricks on their mind.
It’s going to be fine. You can cope. You can even get really good at this.
- Expect Change: Doubling your parenting duties means things are going to be different for everyone in your family. Expect and plan for it.
- Let go of the old schedule. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to get “back to normal.” There will be a new normal. A second baby means a necessary shift, just as the first baby meant. Talk to your family, and let your partner know how he or she can help. Reassure your first child that though things are different, his or her needs will still be met.
- Conserve your strength. Your first child will need your attention – lots of it probably – and the demands of your newborn’s initial, unsettled schedule will be particularly challenging. Save your energy for parenting and pressing priorities.
- Enjoy the fact that you know what you’re doing! After all, you are an experienced parent now. It’s a positive change to feel confident with a newborn, rather than confused this time around.
- Prepare for challenges: New personal and relationship concerns come with parenting two kids, no matter how well you have prepared. Often, there may be some grief about the special relationship shared with the oldest child, when he or she was an only child. Let yourself have space to work through this, both alone, and with your child.
- Navigate the sibling situation.
- Allow your firstborn to help prepare your home.
- Make special time to spend with your first child alone.
- Discuss how much care a baby needs and assure your child that there is enough love and attention to share. Allow your child to help in age-appropriate ways, if he or she wants to.
- Role play, read books, and watch videos to help your child work through his or her own feelings.
- Breathe through worries about bonding. You’ll quickly find that your love grows exponentially.
- Watch out for baby blues that change into something more pressing. Do not keep your feelings to yourself if your mood is persistently low or anxious. If your thoughts turn to self-harm or harming either of your children, call your caregiver or a skilled therapist immediately.
- Accept however you feel (unrelated to the previous note). Tired, irritable, or disorganized; there’s no need to tough it out or feel ashamed of needing some extra support. Reach out to a family member, a postpartum doula, or a friend — just a few hours a week can be a calming respite.
- Alone time seems ridiculous, but do it anyway. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, you need time to take care of yourself. Read a magazine. Walk around the block. Write in your journal. Take the edge off the experience created by sleep deprivation and the normal tension of adjusting to a new routine.
- Couple time is vital too. Spend some dedicated time with your partner, if you have one. As life moves into more of a rhythm, prioritize your relationship and take measures to intentionally maintain your connection.
- Adapt and Enjoy: As you settle in, look for ways to harmonize your household for organization to best support all family members.
- Simplify. Stock your freezer, fridge, and pantry. Buy more hampers. Hire a housekeeper or postpartum doula for a while, if you can. Do what you can to keep things running smoothly and your home in order. And if you are not able to keep things running smoothly sometimes, let everything that is not necessary for pure survival go.
- Keep kid spending under control. Baby clothes are super-cute. But, it’s important to be more frugal and financially wise with two kids to provide for. This is a good time to solidify a budget and savings plan for peace of mind, if you haven’t already.
- Look to your “village” for help. Your community has a wealth of resources, activities, classes, programs, and support groups for families.
Be patient with yourself. Soon the adjustment will feel less like coping with change and more like the thriving family you hoped for.