I’ve heard that two children is more than twice as hard, and I’ve heard that nothing is as difficult as the transition to first-time motherhood. (After that, you’re already a mom -— you’re used to the shift in social life, work, and lack of rest that parenting brings.) Where do I stand on all this? Somewhere in the middle. In my experience, that second child intensifies the job of Mom, that’s for sure. But as for making it more than twice as hard? Eh, I don’t think so.
If you’re gearing up for Baby #2, here are some quick tips to help prep the entire family.
1. Train your support team. While you’re tending to the new baby, it’s important for your older kid to get their attention basket filled by other people. If your partner/a grandparent/a sitter will be on duty, make sure they know how to pack up and hit the playground without your help. If you don’t already, begin sharing meal prep duties and nighttime rituals, so that when you’re stuck under a sleeping infant, a bedtime back rub and song from Daddy is totally normal. I found that “divide and conquer” became our new motto and constant strategy after two kids.
2. Master babywearing. Borrow as many baby carriers as you can and try them all out to see what works for you. You need both your hands free when you’ve got two kids and only two arms. (Browse some awesome ones here.)
3. Set expectations with your little one. The baby is going to be so little! And you are so big! You can run and play, but the baby can only sleep and cry. We’ll all have to be very patient with the baby while she learns to smile at us and crawl. It takes a long time. You’re lucky to be so big and do so many fun things! Be honest about the fact that the baby is going to be very cute, but not too much fun to play with at first. I found the messages in many of these books about new siblings to be super helpful.
4. Invent special rituals for you and your firstborn. While your newborn is not requiring every ounce of your energy, you’ll want to let your big kid know he or she has your attention. Feed the meter; that is, engage actively with #1 in order to reduce her need to tantrum or whine for your attention later. My son loved musical instruments. We would put the baby in her bouncer and put on a little show for her (well before she could even uncross her infant eyeballs to focus on us!).
5. Know that you can feel happy and sad—and crazy—all at the same time. Although you’ve done this baby thing before, the highs and lows of birth, recovery, and newborn parenting are intense. Plus, this time around, you have a sensitive little one who wants mama to be happy and present. It’s hard emotional work to stay sane through this experience; but whatever you do, remember: Be forgiving to yourself.
What are your tips for prepping for Baby #2?