While pregnant with my second child, I heard over and over again from friends, acquaintances, and random strangers that the transition from one child to two (or more!) was the toughest for them, even tougher than going from zero to one. Kids are exhausting; no question about it, but there’s something particularly tough about transitioning from your first to having multiple kids. I think it has something to do with having to multitask SO MUCH STUFF and the work literally never ends. While you might have some down time with one child, there is pretty much never a free moment with two. From the moment my sweet, precious number 2 arrived, I felt like I was underwater, never able to catch my breath for a minute. With two there is always something that needs to get done – a diaper changed, a bottle made, clothes changed, tables wiped, floors cleaned…The list of “to-do’s” goes on and on…and ON.
There’s also the fact that our son was 2.5 when his baby sister arrived – we had 2.5 years to get into a rhythm as a family of 3. He was sleeping through the night (emphasis on WAS – everything changed when his sister arrived), and we had a good schedule in place – swim on Thursdays, play dates on Wednesdays, groceries and errands in the mornings…I felt like I totally had the mom-thing down. Or maybe I just remember it fondly because one thing is certain – I don’t anymore.
Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way on how to gracefully transition from one child to two (or more!).
- Leave the house. Maybe it was just me, but leaving the house with two kids felt so daunting at first. Two kids to get ready to leave (snacks and bottles and diapers and toys and extra clothes) and two kids to buckle in and out of carseats and two kids to keep safe/happy/behaved while doing errands. It was totally overwhelming, but absolutely the thing that made me feel MOST sane after baby 2 arrived. I had to force myself to leave and not become a hermit. Find a place you feel comfortable going (mine is Target! That way I can get a coffee at Starbucks and walk the aisles) and go whenever you get the urge to leave the house. Then branch out to other places – parks, museums, the zoo, play dates.
- Go out alone or with friends or with your significant other. But leave the kids behind. Equally as important as number 1 on the list, you need to make sure you have “you” time. Leave the kids as home and venture out to do something for yourself – meet a friend for coffee or take a walk. Feeling like you have a life outside your kids becomes even harder when you have more than one – it’s okay (and great!) to make yourself a priority once in awhile.
- Purge unwanted or unused items. Oh. My. Goodness. I thought our house was overflowing with stuff BEFORE my daughter was born. With two kids, the amount of toys/gear/clothes is kind of out of control. I’ve started purging stuff we no longer want or use and it has made a huge difference. It makes me feel more organized and less stressed about the clutter.
- Get a huge calendar. I love my giant calendar. It sits right in our kitchen where everyone can see it and I keep track of EVERYTHING on there. Doctor’s appointments, meetings, play dates, real dates, everything. It’s hard to remember the small stuff when you have SO much going on. Make it easy and put it somewhere you will see it every day.
- Cut yourself some (or A TON) of slack. Kids are a lot of work. They are amazing little people and being a mom is one of the biggest joys of my life. Some days I feel like I’m doing pretty well, and some days I want to curl up in bed and cry. I feel overwhelmed by the messy kitchen, the crying, the constant demands of being a mom. Some days I feel like I can’t get it together. Those days I try to cut myself some slack. I might eat more junk food than I should, or let the kids watch more TV than they should, but I’m not perfect. I’m just a mom of two kids trying to do my best.
What other tips would you add for moms with growing families? Share in the comments!