What they don't tell you becoming a parent of two
This will be my first Mother’s Day as a mother of two, and let me start off by saying this – my heart is full and I am forever thankful but this two-kid thing is no joke.
Now basking in my mother-of-two title, I can easily say the transition from one child to two was definitely harder than from none to one. There’s no easier way to say it – Sh*t Got Real! I feel like nothing of being a parent to a single child prepared me for the shit show I was about to walk into. I mean yes, it kind of is like muscle memory when it comes to the basics such as changing diapers, soothing a crying baby, and sleepless nights but everything else in between is a true test of your patience and your sanity. I mean I thought I had this whole parenting thing in the bag! And then we welcomed our little man into the world, and let’s just say it definitely humbled us.
I honestly feel like I have mastered the ability to be in two places at once – figuratively and may even feel like literally speaking sometimes. Nobody prepares you for the endless stories your three-year-old bombards you with at the most unsuitable time when you’re in the midst of strategically cleaning up newborn poop explosion. Or how about that blissful moment when you finally get the baby down to nap so you can have a minute to yourself, but instead that brief moment has gone to shit because it’s spent repeatedly telling your toddler “please don’t make so much noise – the baby is sleeping”.
To all the people who said “just have them close in age and get it out the way “ I still don’t quite feel like I’m reaping the benefits of this advice, but then again I imagine this feels particularly difficult because of my daughter’s current age.
She’s 3 going on what feels like 13. Very independent, outspoken, and courageous yet requires supervision on the potty, refuses nap time every single day, and if she’s quiet for too long, just know that she’s definitely up to something. But on the flip side, she is also very protective, compassionate, and perhaps even a little overly helpful with her baby brother, which can make our endless days drag out longer than they need to.
Often parents find the hardest part of preparing for their second child is anticipating the adjustment that the older child will experience. My daughter was very excited to become a big sister but I really wanted to ensure that we took it day by day because after all adapting to a new addition of the family can be overwhelming for anyone, especially a toddler. She was accustomed to being the center of attention, and the truth of the matter is that all that would alter. However, the key is to have realistic expectations of and for your oldest child by:
Spending time preparing the older child well in advance. Sometimes older children expect their new sibling to crawl or talk and are disappointed when the baby does not. Guide them with practical expectations so that way when the baby arrives, the older child is confident in their ability to help and be patient as the milestones come.
Protecting your time together. So for example with my daughter, I would make it very clear that today was “her day”, so we would incorporate as many activities that she was interested in to maximize our time together.
Understanding that your older child, who will seem so grown to you, is still a growing person who needs you. This one hit close to home because I automatically thought that my daughter would smoothly transition into this big sister role, I mean, after all, she was this independent being who danced to her own beat, right? Wrong – she’s only three and still trying to figure things out and it’s important that I am present and acknowledge that.
Including them in daily tasks. Something so simple can really go a long way to ensure that your older child feels involved and important in the process of caring for a baby. My daughter loves dancing to music to stop her little brother from crying, tossing wet diapers in the diaper genie pail (only wet ones, she’s made it clear that she does not touch soiled diapers), and assisting with bath times.
Staying mindful that children often can regress after the addition of a sibling, so consider which transitions should continue to be reinforced, are imperative to learn, and which ones can wait for some time after birth. For example, my daughter was potty trained by 2.5, so that was definitely a transition that I was not willing to negotiate. Something she was in the midst of unlearning, I should say, was less screen time – so that was my priority to redirect her attention while keeping her occupied and stimulating her mind. Knowing baby would be arriving meant transitioning to her own bed, however, this is something I truly feel can wait and believe that we will gradually get there – when the time is right.
In the meantime, I’m preserving my sanity by reminding myself that this is just a phase – it won’t always be this way and that this sh*t show will smoothen out. And while I try to find my equilibrium and get used to the new “normal” around here, which I’m certain will take time, I’m optimistically up for the challenge and certain that I am blessed to be embarking on this new journey as a mother of two.
Love & Light,