When we decided to try for our third baby we knew that our lives would change A LOT. Going from one to two children had hit us HARD, we only imagined that going from two to three would be the same.
For me, my biggest concern was how young my middle daughter would be. When she was born our oldest was a little over 4 years old. That made things somewhat helpful as she played somewhat independently and could mostly be trusted not to bolt into traffic. She was also sleeping through the night and completely potty trained.
We found out I was pregnant with our third just two months before our middle daughter’s second birthday. We knew we were headed into uncharted territory so I tried to ready myself by reading every blog and parenting website I could get my hands on. Ultimately, with a few important tips and tricks, the transition went smoother than we anticipated.
Here are my top five tips for making that transition from one baby to two (or two babies to three or three to four….) easier.
I am putting this at the top of the list. It has SAVED us numerous times. Wearing the toddler has kept her feeling close and bonded (and safe from running away). Wearing the baby keeps my hands free to play with or take care of our toddler. I am able to safely walk them both to the car from our house or a store and hold our now three year old’s hand.
Nine days after giving birth to our third daughter I ended up back in the hospital with an infection. My husband had to fly solo with three little girls. Babywearing helped him SO much. He wore the toddler on his back, giving her the closeness she needed to feel less afraid of me being sick, and the newborn on the front, facilitating bonding and keeping her regulated and happy in those days that she should have been tucked into me. He rocked those few days with ease and confidence. I credit my recovery partially to the sight of my husband walking in, holding the hand of our (then) six year old wit the newborn and two year old both snuggled on him. THAT is the best medicine.
Both for safety and to make sure the newly minted big sibling feels important. Load the toddler into the car first/take them out last. When we get to the car I help our 3 year old into the car and get her buckles on while wearing the baby. This assures me that the older one will not dart into traffic or lock the car doors while I try to secure the baby. When we arrive at our destination, I will put the baby in the carrier first or secure her in the stroller before unbuckling the toddler.
I also make sure that my toddler gets to pick her snack first, gets to play with a new toy first, gets to hug daddy when he comes home from work first. The baby doesn’t care and this little bit of effort pays of big in avoiding jealousy.
3. Tiny Helpers
Give your toddler jobs to do. A busy toddler is a toddler who may just forget to have a tantrum. Ours wants nothing more than to feel important and like a big girl. I found that giving her small tasks that are age appropriate helps A TON. It can be as simple as fetching a diaper for the baby to help with a diaper change to cutting chunks of cheese with a butter knife for her snack. Folding socks and washcloths are also really simple things that keep her feeling important.
Grocery shopping is prime meltdown territory. I have found that asking for her help avoids these meltdowns allowing me to tend to the baby and our task of buying groceries. I put the toddler in the back of the shopping cart and she reaches out and grabs specific items for me. She also helps to load our groceries onto the conveyer belt when we are checking out. This lowers the chance of her becoming bored and helps me to not have to lean into the cart while wearing her baby sister. Everyone wins!
4. Give yourself grace
Dishes will pile up, laundry will go unwashed, the floors will get dirty, and toys will take over. At first, I nearly drove myself mad trying to keep up with everything. Eventually, I let go of my vision of how things “should be” and focused on how things really were. Once I realized that I could simply give myself a bit of grace, things seemed a whole lot easier.
When I stopped worrying SO much about the house and asked for help, I was able to focus on my children. We had meals delivered by amazing friends via Meal Train. I signed up for a service and had a volunteer come to our house to sweep my floors and hold my baby while I got some rest or drank a cup of (still hot!) coffee. I reminded myself that this season of motherhood is brief, even if the days seem impossibly long.
5. Build a team
My husband and I approach parenting as a team. We stand as a united front and lean on each other when the days are challenging. I attend a weekly Mother’s Circle where I have made some incredible friends. Days filled with constant diapering and feeding and napping (or not napping) and tears and laughter and chaos, SO MUCH CHAOS, can become overwhelming. It is super helpful to know I have fellow moms ad my parter in my corner.
Motherhood was NOT meant to be done alone and mothering more than one child should come with an automatic entourage.
6. Self care
I know I said five but here is one more, and this applies to ANYONE and EVERYONE, regardless of how many children you have or don’t have.
Find something that makes you feel GOOD. Something that will remind you that you are still you and that you haven’t lost yourself. For me it is getting ready each day. I make sure that I am wearing something that makes me feel good. A cute graphic tee, my favorite handmade gold rings, a quick swipe of mascara, and some lip gloss.
It doesn’t have to be anything extra, just something that makes you remember how important you are and that you matter. Some days self care can be a simple bath, some days I need five minutes of silence while no one touches me. Tiny acts of self care can make an enormous impact.
Every family is different and has different experiences. This is what worked/works for us. Adding to our family has been the best decision we have ever made. Hearing the laughter of my three girls makes me heart so happy. They truly are a blessing that I never, ever take for granted.