More to come!*
I remember when I first had my second having sooo many questions about HOW do I do this or that. Specifically. I wanted real answers to real scenarios. So here are a few that I hope are helpful to you:
How do you introduce baby to the big sibling?
I had planned this and thought it out in my head, wanted it to be super special. Yeah, it just happened. It was what it was. We got terrible pictures of it. My son was not as intrigued as we were, as you can see in the photo above. It was quite honestly confusing to him I think. He didn't really get it until she was home for a few weeks and made noises. So don't force it. Let it be what it is. Make him feel like being a big brother is special, but don't overwhelm him with it or expect something from him. He'll come to the baby when he's ready. Get big brother shirts, gifts from baby to him, and let him hold her if he wants to and don't push it if he's not interested right away. Talk in kid language - not too much info and don't ramble on about it. "This is your sister. Her name is Addisyn. Can you say that? You can kiss her and be very gentle with her. She's coming home with us soon."
Where do you put 2 car seats in the car?
With baby #1 you probably put the car seat in the middle, safest place they say. Well, with two there is only one middle. So in our car they both moved to a side. We put our baby behind the driver's side because I wanted my older one contained on his side while I got the baby out first, which was easier with her right behind me. Also, the older one moves and throws things and gets your attention in the back seat, so it's easier to see all of that when he is not directly behind you but on the opposite side.
How do you go grocery shopping?
Alone if you can! It is so much easier to go alone. It's hard to put them both in the cart and groceries, too. It's overflowing. But in the beginning we'd put my daughter in her car seat carrier in the cart part with food all around her and on the bottom of the cart, and my son sitting in the seat part. Now that she's old enough to sit in the seat part she goes there and he sits in the cart part with food around him. I try to avoid going with them though because honestly it's way too hard to focus with two kids making noise and needing things.
How do you put two kids in the car after an outing?
One at a time! When grocery shopping, I go to one child's side and put him/her in while keeping the cart really close to me so I can see the other one. Sometimes it's my bigger one who gets in first, other times (especially when super cold for a baby) it's the younger one in first. I have the double stroller in the trunk of the car at all times also just in case carts can't fit the baby carrier (TJ Maxx and places like that it dose not fit, FYI!). Groceries get put away in the car last.
How do you handle all of those diaper changes?
You change one after another if possible. Keep diapers everywhere - multiple diapers in the car, downstairs and upstairs in the house, in the diaper bags, etc. Set up a diaper changing station downstairs for sure. No time to go upstairs, and you can't leave one kid downstairs getting into trouble while you run upstairs with the baby. Make it easy on yourself - set yourself up in two locations. We bought a new diaper changing pad and did a whole new set up that we have kept downstairs in our bedroom just so it's easy for us. Buy a zillion wipes. You'll need them.
How do you actually take care of 2 at once?
You let someone wait. You get used to hearing someone cry. You accept they ALWAYS need you. You take turns doing something for one, then the other. You acknowledge you're only human and cannot possibly do it all at once so somebody has to wait. And you remind yourself that patience is a virtue, you are teaching your kids good social and learning skills when they have to wait. You get on a routine as fast as possible, too, and stick to it. Kids thrive on routines and structure, and you will be more sane and feel like this job is more manageable if you are on some type of routine. 2 kids napping at the same time is challenging at first but when you manage to get it to happen it's priceless. Try really hard to do this. You accept that you cannot possibly be everywhere at once or achieve helping all needs at once. Somebody has to wait. It's only normal. It's OK. You keep ahead of the game, stay organized, do things when they are both sleeping, the night before, etc.
How do you give two kids the attention they need?
It's back and forth, patience, somebody waiting a lot. But it's doable. You used to just feed baby quietly. You used to read to him on his own or rock him for a long time before bed. Now you steal moments everywhere, all day long in order to make sure they each get attention. In the car you talk now, you are not silent hoping #1 will sleep. You are talking to your first and singing songs so your second hears it, too. At bed time you read stories to both of them, one on each side, alternating your gaze to each one and asking questions to both of them.
My favorite times of day are 9-10 when my daughter is asleep and it's quality time with my son. We play games she can't touch, go outside when it's too cold for her to come with us, cook or have a special snack, snuggle up and read books, etc. He LOVES it. I used to use that morning nap time to clean up the house, take a shower, pack the car to go somewhere, etc. Now that time is solely dedicated to having one-on-one time with my son. He needs that attention from me. And I need it to feel less guilty that he's not getting all the attention now that he has a little sister. This started when my youngest was on a regular morning nap routine, of course, when 4-5 months old I'd say. And my favorite time of day with my daughter is when my son goes for nap in the afternoon about noon and she's up for 30-45 minutes later and we play, laugh, giggle, take a bath, etc. During the week when I'm not around for those day-time moments because I'm working, my favorite times of day are in the car after daycare my son and I talk about our days, and then before bed we read stories. My daughter and I snuggle on the couch every night and I feed her as she falls asleep, house totally quiet.
You get in the time you need with them, it's just random and you have to be focused enough to make those moments count. It is a daily thing though. That has to be priority. Chores wait. We also do things like I take my son grocery shopping with me and say it's special time with Mom, leaving his sister home. Or my husband takes him out to take the trash out by the road and clean his truck, special time with Dad. Make ordinary things into special time and they light up!
How do you prepare big kid for seeing you look different, attached to IVs, etc. in the hospital?
Great question! I didn't think about this, as my son was 2 years old when our daughter was born and he really could not be prepared much for what it would be like so we didn't talk about this part. He was a little weird when he came in and saw me in the bed, IVs in me, sick looking. I just told him mommy's belly hurt from having the baby and I'll be in the hospital for a few days and home soon, it's OK. He was fine after that. For older kids though, I think actually telling them what they may see is important: Mom is going to be tired, wearing a hospital gown, can't get out of bed or pick you up, maybe have tubes in my arms to help me get my medicine, etc. Showing a picture of you in the hospital with that older child may help show it's OK.
How do you keep your house organized?
A little bit every day. Keep up with it before it becomes a huge mountain you have no time to fix. Have a system for everything. Have a place for everything. Routines help. Don't say "I'll get to this later." Later doesn't happen. Take a few minutes now to do it if you can. Nest a lot while pregnant with #2. I went through my entire house before I had the second one, knowing I'd never again have as much time as I had without the second one there yet. We tossed out a lot, minimized, organized, made structure around the house. You need a white board also in the kitchen to remind you of things you need. Have blank birthday cards on hand for all those birthday parties you'll be invited to. Have things around you use often but may forget to buy - wrapping paper, tape, envelopes, stamps, detergent, soap, etc.
How do you cook dinner with two kiddos around?
Um... you rarely do?! It's easier to make a few meals on the weekend, at night after kids are in bed or in the Crockpot when home on a Sunday. Freeze a few if you have time to do that. And then have some staples that you eat during the week that are easy. We make breakfast for dinner once a week because it's so super easy and it's fun for my son. We do pasta, tacos, etc. things that are easy. Do what you can. My son likes to help cook so he gets out his cooking toys at the same time that I'm cooking. My daughter sits on the floor next to me with toys or in her highchair with puffs or a teething ring. There is no time to think during the week with kids around at dinner time, so following a recipe is out of the question for me anyway. No time! Sometimes I'll set my son up on the table with playdoh, he loooves that and it keeps him contained so I can focus a bit more while cooking.
What's the nap routine like for #2?
In the beginning months of course they sleep when they want! When on a routine my daughter does what my son used to do, too, - sleeps in the car about 20 minutes on our morning commute to daycare from 6:20-7ish. Morning nap 8:45-10. Afternoon nap 12:45-2:15/30ish. Bed at 6:30ish at night. The difference I've noticed is not that she sleeps less, but because she's the second child and we have a bigger kid who needs to move around and be on the go and attending parties, etc. sometimes the baby sleeps on the go in the car, especially during morning nap time. Or morning nap is adjusted on either end - either go to bed slightly earlier or later. It's just the nature of how it goes. You just let it go sometimes because the older one's needs are more in your face so to speak.
An example of the difference with one and two was this summer when our daughter was a few months old and our nephew was 3 weeks younger than she was. We were at the lake with family. Our son wanted to swim outside. Well, try containing a 2 1/2 year old who sees the water and his cousins outside swimming in it, try telling him "we have to wait an hour because your infant sister wants to take her nap now." Yeah right. So the baby came outside with us. We set up her pack n' play in the grass under a tree. She was whining and wanted to be held, but I was the only one out there at the time until my husband could come help me watch my son in the water. So the baby whined and fussed (not screaming by any means) and she fell asleep on her own in the pack n' play. I could not be two places at once. My son's needs were more in my face and needed me more. There is also the idea that the older one knows, remembers, is more focused, so you have to to entertain them first. The baby won't know or won't remember, so sometimes it's the baby who waits. Of course if the baby is screaming or really upset they come first, and when a newborn they come first every time, of course. But as they get older and more able to sit and wait and just whine a little, it's OK for them to wait.
During this example though my sister-in-law rocked her son to sleep, shushed him, held him for a while until he was ready to sleep in the pack n' play. That's exactly what I would have done with my first. But with the second, there is not time or the ability to do both, so the second learns to go with the flow.
My daughter is much more easygoing than my first was. She just knows she has to wait and so she does. I make my son wait, too. They are learning patience, that's for sure!
How do you entertain your older one while nursing / feeding the baby?
Reading books is a big one I hear from many moms. Make it special reading time. Set yourself up with the Boppy and baby to nurse, then have your big kid squeeze next to you to read. My son rarely watches TV, but the times he does is during nursing sessions. He doesn't like to sit still to watch TV, but he thinks it's special when we sit together so that has worked sometimes, too. When he's super busy and won't sit to read with me, I just stay engaged with him while feeding the baby. This happens a lot now when I get out of work and home to feed my daughter around 3:30ish, I nurse her then since it's been a few hours since I pumped at work. My son is busy at this time because we just walk in the door and he's missed his toys all day. So he's pretty engaged in a game or with toys, and I just talk to him while I feed her. That shows him he has my attention despite me holding his sister.
How do working moms do it all?
Organization. Priorities. Realistic expectations of yourself. Clean a little at a time all week, but mostly on weekends. Prepare the night before (pack bags, get sippy cup of milk in the fridge, etc.). Put kids first so the guilt is less. More on this in another blog post coming soon about how to go back to work after the second kiddo.
How do you get them to nap at the same time?
Great question! You need to wait until baby #2 is ready to be on a set nap routine first. You cannot force this in the beginning. It's frustrating, yes, but they are infants, newborns. You cannot expect them to be on the routine your older one is on right away. That's just life. It's hard to remember that though after having your big kid on a set routine for so long. You cannot be in two places at once, so you can't expect that your kids will literally by the minute be on the same routine exactly. Somebody has to wait. That's just how it is with two. So for us for the time they sleep at the same time is the afternoon nap. We eat lunch at 11ish. My son goes up for nap at 11:45/12 ish. I come back down and my daughter plays for about a half hour because she doesn't need her bottle until 12:30 ish. That's our quality time together. My babysitter says the same thing- it's the one time in the day when the big guy is asleep so she can just bond with my daughter, so that's actually nice having them spread out about a half hour or so. So she eats about a half hour after he goes to bed. She then goes to sleep around 12:45ish. She wakes around 2:30ish, my son wakes around 2ish. Again, staggered slightly, because you cannot be in two places at once.
Two is more, busier, and challenging.
But TWICE THE FUN! For sure.Once you figure out a system, that's when things get easier. It takes a few trial runs to get you there, but I promise you WILL get there on all of this little things. You'll end up even more organized than you were before you had your second. That's a positive thing! Just be patient with yourself in the process.