Welcoming a new child into the family is a wonderful experience. That feeling of overwhelming love for a new baby just can’t be duplicated. While adding a new baby to a family is wondrous, it also comes with a new set of struggles. Becoming a two child family is much different than welcoming your first baby. There are new family dynamics and new hardships that must be dealt with head on. The transition isn’t always easy, but it is beautiful none the less.
Becoming A Two Child Family
When my husband and I decided to add a second baby to our family, we thought it would be a rather smooth transition. Our daughter was about three at the time, and had been saying she wanted a sibling. Timing was right and we went for it. It did not take long to get pregnant and our daughter was so excited. She was a little disheartened when our gender reveal came up boy, but she was still loving the idea of being a big sister.
One night, our precious baby boy decided it was time to make his arrival. My mom took our daughter and I was off to the hospital for my VBAC delivery. It was smooth sailing and we couldn’t have been happier. After a few days in the hospital, we were home and ready to start out new life as a two child family.
That is when the trouble began. Willow began acting out in daycare and giving us some fierce attitude to boot. She has always been my strong willed child, but it was getting out of hand. We knew this had to have come from the addition of the new baby. She became jealous and simply was not being herself, so we had to figure out a way to correct this behavior.
The difficulty isn’t only in the older child though. Simple tasks such as grocery shopping and bed time became much more difficult for a time. Finally though, after much trial and error, we have gotten the hang of this whole two child family business.
Preparing Your Older Child
Most of our difficulties came from our then 3 year old daughter. Having another baby is a huge change for a young child, and they don’t completely understand it. All they really know is that mommy and daddy are now giving more attention to this new little person. To best help ease the transition. it is best to start preparing your older child well before your delivery.
Before you even give birth, you can start preparing your older child. There are tons of books you can read to them about being a big sibling. You can also get them involved in the planning and nursery decoration. If your older child feels involved, it will help to ease the transition.
Willow would love talking to her brother in my belly. She got to pick out outfits for when he was born and buy him little presents. This helped her feel more connected to the baby and slightly more prepared for his arrival.
I also talked to her a bit about how things would change once Luca arrived. My husband and I did not want her to be shocked, so we let her know what life with a baby would be like. She was informed that babies cry a lot and that they need a lot of gentle help since they are so little.
Once Baby Arrives
Even with involving your older child, there is still a chance he or she will feel that jealousy. We fully involved our daughter, and still went through it with her. Jealousy and acting out are to be expected. It is normal, but the child does need to learn that it isn’t right. Anger and punishment have little effect in this type of situation. Your older child is most likely wanting attention, and you are now giving them negative attention.
While acting out in jealousy is in no way appropriate, there are ways to deal with it. I found that spending dedicated time alone with my daughter was a huge help. We would let her pick out dinner one night a week and do craft night with her. It is important for your older child to know they aren’t being replaced, because I am sure that is how it feels to them.
On top of making sure to spend quality one on one time together, you should also make big sibling feel like a big helper. My daughter loves helping out with her baby brother. She is always down to throw away a diaper or grab a pack of wipes. These tasks might seem insignificant to us, but for a little one they are momentous. Your older child will learn to be helpful, and will feel empowered and special because they can help. Even to this day, my daughter loves to help out with her little brother whenever she can.
As Baby Gets Older
My son is now 9 months old, and we are still adjusting in some ways. Now that he is mobile, my daughter has been faced with new challenges, such as sharing. We have had to teach her that she must keep all small toys and crayons off of the floor because brother will eat them. We also explained that he will try to play with her toys, so she needed to be kind to him.
At first, she was not too ken on sharing. We explained to her that she did not have to share her special toys, or her favorite toys, but those needed to be kept put away out of the baby’s reach. Now she has gotten pretty good about sharing most of her toys with her little brother, even though he only wants to chew on them.
I am sure as he gets even older, we will run into more sibling struggles, but we are prepared to see them head on.
So it was not just the sibling issues that caused difficulty becoming a two child family. Simple daily tasks had the tendency to become much more tedious.
Going to the grocery store was a disaster for a while. Thankfully, my Ergo has been a lifesaver. This amazing contraption has allowed me to be hands free while carrying Luca. Grocery shopping can be a pain with one kid, but two can be a nightmare. With my Ergo, I just strap Luca on and I am good to go. Willow rides in the cart and helps me put all of the food in the cart. I can even breastfeed the baby while I am walking and no one even notices! Seriously, the Ergo was a worth while investment.
My daily cleaning slacked quite a bit when the baby was brand new as well. Once again, the Ergo was my saving grace. It really felt like as soon as I got one kid to cooperate, the other would start acting a fool! I would get Luca to nap so I could do dishes, then Willow would come running in because she got but by an ant. Her hysterics would wake the baby up and then I was back to square one. Honestly, I just gave up on the cleaning for a while but the Ergo was the only way I got any housework done.
Oh sweet slumber how I miss thee so. I have found the only way I get any sleep, is through co-sleeping. The issue now is since Willow sees Luca in our bed, she wants to be in our bed. There have been many nights where we have had a 4 person slumber party, but hey whatever works right.
I know one thing that has changed is my daughter’s bedtime routine. When she was an only child, I would lay down with her in her bed until she fell asleep. Now I can’t really do that as often. While my husband or I will tuck her in, it is harder to lay there for an extended period of time. Usually the baby is getting grumpy and I need to feed him around that same time. For the most part, Willow has adjusted quite well to this change. She will typically go right to sleep on her own, but every once in a while it turns into a dramatic meltdown.
Mealtime with a baby and a 4 year old can be exhausting. Between me trying to cook with one wanting to help and the other pulling at my leg, I don’t even know what I am doing anymore. I try to make mealtime as simple as possible now. In order for me to eat a hot meal, I rely a lot on help from my wonderful husband. He will help me out making Willow a plate and getting her situated while I actually get to scarf down my food.
I don’t know what it is, but every time we sit down for dinner it seems Luca wants to nurse and Willow forgot to ask for some condiment that she must have in order to eat. Sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up. I can say though that I have mastered breastfeeding at the dinner table while I feed myself.
It Gets Easier
Those first three months are the worst and I promise it does get better. It can be a rough transition period, but I promise you will make it through! Your family will grow stronger and closer together and the love you have will fill your heart. One day you will sleep again. Eventually you will eat a hot meal again. You will find your balance and make it work like only you can. Every mom and every family is different, so do what works for you and don’t feel any shame. Raising kids is messy, but it is the most beautiful kind of mess their is.