I was enjoying reading the posts on the First Time Mommy Advice, but I was wondering what to expect those first few months/years post-pardum? What do you wish you knew? How did you get through it? What did your kiddos think of becoming a big brother/sister?
I was thinking about how the first couple of months were such a blur with my daughter, I could hardly even function, and I'm supposed to help with homework and and bring her to/from school?! My daughter will be 5 1/2 and in kindergarten when the baby is born...
Any advice is helpful! Thanks!
Well I don't have any advice for you but I am looking forward to reading the responses! I am going to have two under two and am very nervous about how I'm going to handle it. I hope they get along and DS isn't too jealous!
Seriously though, will I ever sleep again? DS is not a very great night sleeper or napper so I'm terrified of having TWO bad sleepers at the same time!
The best thing you can do with baby number two is wear that kid all the time. Get a good sling or carrier that you're really comfortable in so that you can be as available as possible for kid number one. Also, I know I liked to do "snack time" for older kids when I was stuck in a chair nursing the baby. That makes it kind of a family activity. We'd sit and talk during that time too.
Get as much rest as you can while your daughter is in school and then fold laundry while you help her with her homework. Don't worry! It will all work out. Do you have anyone you can carpool with?
That's the same age that my DS was when my DD was born. Really, it was a very easy transition. By that age kids are quite self sufficient, they're mostly past the jealous stage and you'll get a break while she's at school to focus on the baby and housework... Oh, and breastfeeding was much easier with #2. I simply advise to spend some quality time with your DD and keep her involved with the baby. Other than that, it'll probably be way easier than you expect. :)
My son was 3 when my daughter was born, and I think the transition went VERY well- though I know its not the same for everybody. I remember being baffled by the concept of loving another child like I loved my son, but it really is very natural.
I think the best thing you can do is make the older child feel included in every decision, so that they dont get jealous. Let them help decorate the nursery, let them pick out a special gift for the baby, keep telling them all the time how awesome/wonderful/beautiful they are, and let them know they are being a great brother/sister as well. One thing I learned is that kids LOVE to help- get diapers, grab blankets, things like that. It keeps them busy and included.
Honestly, also, I found the second time to be easier than the first. you already know what your doing. You may be tired while you are doing it but the nerve-factor is not as present as it is with the first.
My second basically lived in the Moby wrap, then my mei tai or the Beco while I chased my older dd around for about the first 4 months. I tried to keep going to playgroups, take her out on her bike, and take her to sports classes while I wore the baby. While he nursed I tried to read her book or engage her in some other activity. Preschool was such a life saver, so the fact that your dd will be in kinder is awesome!! You'll have great one-on-one time with the baby while she's in school and you can relax and do you stuff while the baby sleeps. I doubt there will be much homework in kinder so I wouldn't worry too much about that. Oh, and I have to say, just about all my rules about TV went out the window.
My dd LOVES her little brother. The hardest part about their relationship is how much she wants to interact with him... pick him up, carry him around, "play" with him, etc. when he was not really old enough for that (and she wasn't really strong enough either). Now that he's walking and playing more, their relationship is getting more and more fun. I have very rarely seen any jealousy (other than the taking away of toys she doesn't want him playing with). I can trust her to take him out in the (fenced) back yard and the play out there for long periods of time. It's great. She also likes to help with some aspects of his care. We've discussed a sibling bed with her and she seems very excited about that idea. We'll see if we actually do that or not, but it shows how much she likes to be with him. We of course still have some rough times with them where she knocks him down or retaliates when he swipes at her. I hear the book Siblings Without Rivalry is awesome, but I never found the time to read it!
With a 3 year spacing, dd was potty trained, STTN, and weaned so I didn't have double duty in any of those areas, which I think helps the transition to two be a little easier. Our biggest challenge has been meeting the needs of both kids, like when ds needs to nurse, but dd wants me to fix her a snack. Or when I need to put ds down for a nap and dd wants to go to the park. It's exhausting to use all of ds' nap time to play with dd. I need to take some of that time for myself. But I do try and carve out one-on-one time with her each day. We tried to maintain some of our previous routines, too, like dh and I both help put her into bed, read her a book, etc. while ds plays in the room with us.
I have to say though, that all the experimenting and all the knowledge and wisdom I gained from parenting dd for 3 years really served me well with #2. I was so much more confident in my decisions, which made everything less stressful. For example, breastfeeding initiation was easy and problem-free. I didn't worry about solid foods as much and confidently used the baby-led weaning technique. I knew so much more about babywearing and had several carriers on hand such that the baby was always happy in a carrier. I had my cloth diapering routine down pat. I didn't have expectations about sleep. Parenting the baby was actually a breeze and I think it really rubbed off on him, too. Parenting my older dd was the much greater challenge and really still is b/c her needs are always growing into uncharted territory for us as parents. So, my advice to best prepare for #2 is to actually further prepare for your older chid- thinking ahead to behavioral challenges, thinking ahead to school or classes that you can enroll them in, thinking ahead to friends and family that can assist you with child care, and building yourself a tool box of ideas to entertain and help make your older child feel special while you're tending to the needs of the baby.
Oh, I can't wait to read the responses to this!
DD will be 2.5 when the new baby is born and I'm a little nervous. Especially because it will be the start of a long, cold winter. I definitely plan to sling the baby as much as possible but I worry about meeting DD's needs to get out of the house.
A friend told me her advice for the first while was to get the big sister a great present from her little sibling - she suggested a dr. kit, since we'll be doing a lot of appointments and then the hospital. And she suggested that I start stocking up on new books, little toys, stickers, etc to put in a box and pull out as needed for DD.
When my second was born, my first had just turned two. When our third is born this Nov/Dec, my first will be just 4 and my second just 2. The transition from one to two was way easier to me than from none to one! We had all of the issues that you think are never going to resolve before DS#2 came along: not sleeping in his own bed/through the night, wanting mommy to himself, very clingy, etc... We purposed to keep him very involved in all prenatal stuff and I would always include the baby in our activities; "Lets read books so the baby can hear!" "We have to eat lunch cause the baby is hungry." Things like that. It made it real to him. I think having a homebirth also helped alot! All my prenatals were in the house so he would put the fetoscope on and "listen" to the baby. He was not present at the birth but was here very shortly after (I am sill mourning this!) and when he came home, DS#2 and I were in bed and he climbed right in and started loving his brother. We saved he first diaper and dressing for him to do. That was special. I always made it a good thing that he was helping me bring a diaper or water bottle while nursing. Whatever it was so he felt helpful and responsible. Kids love that! Now, this time around, DS#1 is THRILLED! He tells me all about the baby and that he is going to listen, be there for the birth, talk to the baby, feel it move, etc... It's neat to see how he remembered without reminder from the last time. DS#2 is excited too, although he doesn't quite get it. He is fascinated with babies now and calls tummys, babies. I think he will be there. And all of those things you worry about, not sleeping good or being clingy, or whatever, those things fix themselves out on their own just in time. It's very cool how that happens! It does take some facilitating but not much! DS#1 potty learned at 20 months in one week, DS#2 is half way there at 19months. They are both sleeping in their own beds mostly through the night. I can already see so many changes taking place so I am excited for the arrival of our new baby. I realize we worry more than necessary (coming from a compulsive worry-er!!!).
Do what you can to get them to take an afternoon nap at the same time. Take that nap time and either nap yourself or put your feet up and read or whatever it is you do to relax. Keep the baby up a little bit after you put your firstborn to bed so you can hang with the baby without your firstborn trying to steal the show ;) If you are a SAHM, try to get a few times a week for activities that your FB will enjoy--library, museum, playdates. A busy toddler probably won't get into as much trouble ;)
And don't be surprised if your dh/dp and your FB's relationship gets a little closer. I got a little jealous when my FB and DH suddenly became best buds--he would take her everywhere in the early days after the birth of our 2nd child so I could rest and take care of the baby (and heal from a fun C-section). I was like "Hey! What about me!" but then I got over that b/c it was really cute to see how close they got. She had been my constant companion for 2 years and while she loved her dad, I was still number 1. When little sister came along, DH was a lot more fun than I was (at least in the early days). He'd always been a hands on dad but he assumed almost all of the care of our oldest when he was home.
I totally agree that the sling is your best friend (or wrap with a newborn). My kids will be 8 and 6 by the time this baby comes and I warned them that we would probably be watching more movies than normal for a few weeks after the baby comes, but I remember being thrilled when my second was born. She slept so much that it was like she weaned herself into the family life (sure, much of the time she was awake she cried, but she was barely awake).
My first two are 16.5 months apart. DD2 basically lived in the Moby wrap, so a good, comfortable carrier was critical for us. I did my best to have their afternoon naps overlap when DD2's sleep started to organize, but it didn't always happen. In fact, sometimes they took turns sleeping all day! Those days I tried to view it as an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with each of them. As others have said, we found it a lot easier the second time because we had already figured out cosleeping, breastfeeding, etc. Last time I worried so much throughout my pregnancy about how things would be and tried to rush DD1 to meet certain milestones I thought would make my life easier when DD2 arrived. However, she would have reached most of those things on her own (with less stress on both our parts) before DD2 came. This time, I'm more relaxed that I can handle whatever comes and that babies and toddlers change so fast that it's not worth rushing things.