Seven Tips for Transitioning to Two Children
Seven Tips for Transitioning to Two Children
When you double the number of children you make your life more challenging in a variety of ways. Mums get better at multitasking and problem solving and thinking on their feet when they go from one child to two.
And it’s not as simple as double the workload, because it means new routines and patterns and new ways of doing everything. Instead of a juggler going from one ball to two, think of a juggler now learning to juggle a live turtle and a chainsaw at the same time.
Here are some ways I have found transitioning from one child to two can make life more challenging.
Being prepared for less excitement from your extended family and friends
When you announce your first pregnancy everyone around you is ecstatic. You have a steady stream of visitors and pressies when you bring your first baby home.
But with baby number two there seems to be a lot less excitement, while this number two is no less precious to you. There might be fewer visitors, fewer helpers, less presents and for the rest of the world, life just seems to keep plodding along.
Only the closest and best of our family and friends will get equally as excited about the second baby – but this is a great way to find out which people around you are the ones in it for the long haul, and the ones you really can rely on.
How to manage schedules
Just when you get one child’s routine and weird synchronicities sorted in your mind, you add child number two. Their patterns are likely to not match up at all during the day, with one child awake while the other sleeps, one with a stinky nappy while the other is demanding that you play, one needing a bath while the other is using a sharpie to colour in the dog.
Most days their schedules will clash all over the place, meaning you have little time left for housework, or time to yourself or with your partner.
I have found it pays to be realistic in what you are going to be able to achieve in a day (outside of keeping up with feeds, sleeps and nappy changes) and to lower your standards in regards to getting things done around the house. In the early days especially, I have found it helps to just go with the flow a bit.
I have found that my toddler craves our one on one time even more since the new addition to the family arrived. By letting him know that when the baby is asleep we get to have our special time together I find that he isn’t quite as demanding for it outside of this and is extra helpful when it comes time to get the baby ready for her naps.
One day you will find that all of a sudden their routines will match up perfectly, leaving you with all this sudden spare time and no idea what to do with it! (Just for one day though – tomorrow it will be all over the place again…)
Yes, your belt will be a bit tighter when you go from one child to two (and not just because you may not have lost the baby weight yet…)
Going from one child to two extends the time you are relying on one income as a family, and can mean budgeting for a bit longer.
While your baby probably has a lot of hand me down clothes and furniture, your ever-growing older child will still need bigger clothes, more challenging toys and books, and a bigger bed.
You might struggle with mortgage repayments and need to reign in spending on things like takeaway food. Instead of getting takeout we make pizzas at home each Friday now which costs a fraction of what it does to buy pizza for the family and our toddler loves being able to help out preparing them and choosing what he wants on them.
We have also gotten really good at reviewing our larger bills like electricity, phone plans, insurance (home, car and health); it’s amazing what you can save by swapping providers. We aim to do this every 6 months.
Managing the Extra Food Prep Required
Later on, having two children relatively close in age will make cooking easier, but when they are so young their diets are quite different. You will now be dealing with breastfeeding or formula feeding, as well as purees, toddler-sized finger food, and meals and snacks at pretty much all hours of the day.
When you add a baby to the mix it can make it harder to pay attention to what your older child has eaten.
You know you are putting out healthy food at the right times, but whether this food makes it into your child’s belly where it need to be is another story. It may end up in the dog’s mouth, in a pot plant, under the couch or somewhere else, and it can be hard to keep track of feeding your toddler well when you are keeping your baby fed as well.
I have found preparing my sons lunch and snacks each morning really helps. He has his lunch box in the fridge that he can help himself to if he gets hungry (which is also really helpful when I am in the middle of feeding my baby) and I can keep better track of what he has actually eaten and that it’s a good balance of what he needs each day.
It also means that if we have to pop out quickly I can simply add an ice pack and take it with us in case he gets hungry while we are out.
Balancing your love and attention
While your attention will be greatly tested when you go from one child to two, you don’t need to be worried about having enough love to go around. When you have your second child your love for the first doesn’t need to be split, because instead, your heart doubles in size to embrace them both.
I have found bonding with each child is different, and although you may have a preferred child in a specific moment, you will certainly not have a favourite overall.
Understandably it is hard for the older child to see you all of a sudden needing to divide your time between him and the younger baby. I find it helps to let your toddler see that you don’t drop everything the instant the baby starts crying. By saying so your toddler can hear ‘Just a moment, I am with your older brother now’ and then spend thirty seconds winding up what you were doing with your older child before attending to the baby helps them see that they too are a priority.
Compromise and teamwork
By the sheer force of numbers, when you are alone with your children now they outnumber you. When you go from one child to two it’s time to start working more as a team with your partner to get things done.
Work out who is good at what and play to your strengths. You may need to work out ways to compromise and also ways to tackle things as a team. Things like grocery shopping which were not so hard with one baby might become a two-parent job, or a mum-only job while dad takes the kids to the park nearby or vice versa.
Time with your partner
Time one on one with your partner was already a bit stretched with one child, but many couples find there is even less of this time once baby number two arrives on the scene. Unfortunately, this special partner time can get bumped down the priority list a bit.
You might need to be more planned, more thoughtful and more creative to get in partner time together. My husband and I try for a date night every second Saturday night, a bottle of red and a cheese plate sitting out on our deck and away from the TV, so we can actually catch up. The alternate Saturday night we take turns choosing a movie and veg’ing out on the couch leaving the clean up till the next day.
While many things get a bit more challenging, one thing does get easier is your confidence that you can handle this.
Every weird and wonderful phase your baby goes through you now know confidently you can get to the other side of, and everyone will turn out all right.
There is more love, more laughter, more surprises, and more rewards. So, we didn’t mind going from one child to two at all.