Advice on Welcoming a Second Child

Here we go barreling toward the due date for baby number two. There’s no time for denial: This thing is happening. Life will change…again. So it’s time to sit back, get dramatic, and look for a place for the baby to sleep.

I know there will be tears—baby tears, toddler tears, mom tears. My husband won’t melt down, but he’ll probably come close trying to put out all the fires burning around him. Beyond these facts, I’m not sure what to expect.

So I decided to get proactive and go to *my* Real Housewives of New Jersey (Donna and Kim) for some advice from the Garden State on how to handle the day when the second turtle finally arrives.

Donna is a dear friend who just had her third baby, so she can spout out tips for the second as easily as she can make chicken nuggets, drop kids off at swim class, and change a diaper all at once.

Kim is an awesome mom-of-two and blogger over at Let Me Start By Saying… who always has sage advice and humor to offer. I particularly enjoy the humor, but right now I need the advice more.

I know a number of moms who are pregnant or due with their second, or just thinking about a second some time in the future. This one’s for you, ladies! …and dads, too, because this is good advice for all involved.

Here’s what Kim has to say…

  1. Line up help, but set guidelines.  Decide how many people can be in your home and for how long.  Room for one guest or three?  Allow your sister to come but not her kids?  Want your mom to come stay at your home but your mother-in-law to stay close by and only visit during the day? Figure it out, be honest about your needs, and stick to them. Help should be actually helpful, not stressful.
  2. Have your help lined up to do these things:
    1. Feed you.
    2. Take care of kid #1.
    3. Watch kid #2 when you need to shower.
    4. Run errands for you.
    5. Clean up the house around you.
  3. Look at your partner’s schedule and then whomever is offering help. Make sure the days are covered for a solid month, if not more. If that means signing kid #1 up for camp or classes or daycare for a couple hours a day, just do it.
  4. Help kid #1 with the transition. He got all the attention for a long time, and a new baby will take most of that away.  Carve out some special “You & Me” time with him every day—whether it’s bath time, watching a movie, reading a book, going to lunch…anything.
  5. Give kid #1 “important” jobs. For example:
    1. Bringing you the diaper/wipes/changing pad.
    2. Holding the bottle to feed baby.
    3. Selecting a special toy for the crib/car seat/playpen.
    4. Getting you water to drink when you’re nursing.
    5. Singing songs or reading books to help baby go to sleep.
    6. Making “artwork” to hang in baby’s room.
  6. Keep the diaper bag prepared. Out and about is much trickier with two kids. Don’t leave the house without something to entertain #1 (book, crayons, snacks, water, etc.) when #2 needs you (changing, nursing, feeding, crying, etc.). Always have at least 2 diapers on you, even when going to the corner store. The Rule is that the less prepared you are, the bigger poop disaster there will be.
  7. Remember that you are human, too, and have needs. Having two kids, especially if both are little, is very draining. You need to eat, drink, sleep, rest, and have some YOU thing each day. A recorded TV show, your favorite food, a girlfriend to come over and chat about something other than cracked nipples, a glass of really good wine, a trashy magazine to read while nursing…make it happen!

Stay tuned for Donna’s advice later this week…

9 responses to “Advice on Welcoming a Second Child

  1. Great stuff. I second the part about the “help should be actually helpful…” But you are wonder woman. I know you’ll be a great mom times 2.

  2. Make the baby stuff boring as soon as possible so there will be less surprise, shock, and jealousy. Bring out the baby’s toys now. Let the first kid get ’em good and germy now, so you don’t have to freak when the baby is new and the first one only wants to play with newborn toys. Once an older kid gets their fill of soft rattles, there won’t be any grabbing from baby.
    And read Siblings Without Rivalry sooner rather than later.

  3. I truly wish someone had given me sound advice when I had Brian! This was a boy who had all kinds of health issues from being a preemie and such…Eric was never really jealous of him, but he was upset that Brian was not a little sister! He threw a fit when we got to bring him home…My sister-in-law said, “Well we can always take him back.”–and she started out the door with him when Eric yelled, “No, no! It’s okay! I’ll keep him!” Eric wanted to fetch diapers and help feed–unfortunately, it was harder explaining to him that babies cannot eat chicken nuggets or happy meals–let alone play with a softball…

  4. You will do fine. When I can relate to the suggestion “help should be helpful”. When I got home with Brian, I thought I’d get a nap. No…15 people showed up within an hour… 😀 That’s my family for ‘ya!

  5. Man…11:30 a.m. and I’m still sleepy! I meant “Then” not “When”!

  6. Great advice (and Donna’s, too). Definitely nap when you can — let the house go to hell and order out dinner, but be sure you nap. And I realize this doesn’t sound restful, but I found that I could take a shower by putting baby 2 in the bouncy seat in the bathroom while toddler played in the shower with me — at least I felt clean after, even if it’s not a spa experience.

    The other thing to remember… I know it seems scary, but actually going from 0 to 1 kid is much harder than going from 1 to 2. I cried the morning we left for the hospital because I worried we were about to destroy Junius’ world — but in fact (even though they fight like crazy at times), he loves his sister more than anything. And it turned out that I was still able to spend time with him because I wasn’t as overwhelmed and terrified about baby Pippi as I had been when Juni was a newborn.

    Trust those mama instincts — you’re going to be great! And when you feel less than great, ask for/accept every little bit of help available.

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