Continuing from my previous post, So you are thinking about having a second child?, today I am helping you navigate the murky waters of what you do once you actually have two children.
So, I have two kids, what on earth DO I do now?
1. Don’t panic. Your partner’s leave is over and you find yourself alone. But. Not. Alone. Never. Alone. It’s okay, they’re not the enemy, they are the beautiful human beings that you made/adopted/won in a poker game.
2. Be organised. That means you know what you will be feeding your eldest for lunch and dinner, before they have eaten their breakfast. I was lucky enough to have a husband who would cook our dinners – he make extra which I would then feed our daughter the next day. This would make life a lot easier the next evening. The more organised you are, the less stressed you will feel. Have nappies, wipes and spare baby clothes in several rooms of your home.
3. Never run out of food or nappies. If you live near a shop, that could mean a daily walk for groceries. If you have to drive or take public transport, it can be a faff (especially in those first days) to do food shopping. Get your food delivered. Or have your partner go to the shops a couple of times a week. Just make sure that you never run out.
4. While we’re talking about food, always have plenty of snacks. Especially if you are breastfeeding, but also for your eldest (who is bound to feel starving as soon as you start breastfeeding/changing a nappy). When you get groceries in, make sure you put together snack boxes of cut up fruit or veg ready in the fridge. And oatcakes. Oatcakes have saved the day many times in our house.
5. Don’t do too much. You might be used to taking your eldest to a different playgroup/class everyday, but times have changed. Pick his/her favourite activity and spend the other quietly and casually, especially in the first couple of months. You’re not going to scar your eldest by having a quieter life. Promise.
6. Don’t try to be a superhero or a martyr. There are no points for taking care of two kids, cleaning the house and having dinner ready on the table for your partner. There will be days when you will wear your pyjamas all day. There are days you get dressed, but forget to brush your teeth or hair. There will be days when you eat take-away or ready meals. And feel free to let your partner come home from work and cook dinner while you put your feet up/shower.
7. Don’t be afraid to put on the telly. I was so strict about my daughter watching television. But when her baby brother arrived, I realised I needed a diversion tactic for the MANY hours I spent breastfeeding.
8. Give your eldest quality time. When you have one baby, you can catch up on rest, sleep or housework during his/her nap times. But those nap times become the quality time you spend with your eldest. Ensure you have games and crafts handy. But if you are desperate for a catnap or shower, put on your old friend the television and don’t beat yourself up about it.
9. Take photos of BOTH kids. Not just the cute little baby. Remember, there’s someone there who is used to being the main focus in your pictures.
10. Never leave your baby alone with your eldest child unless said child is at least four years old. I know several people who have found their two-year old sticking strange food/toys in their baby’s mouth. They’re just trying to be helpful, but you need to keep an eye on them.
11. Kids don’t need bathing every day. Fact. I remember my then four-year old in the bathtub splashing me, while I sat on the floor of the bathroom breastfeeding my newborn. Not comfy. And the post-bath drying/dressing can be so stressful. My daughter never complained when she lost her daily baths, and she never started to smell stinky. And the change in routine did not keep her from going to sleep. I now give the kids a joint bath mid-week and then their daddy gives them a bath at the weekend. Two baths=my sanity.
12. Remember, you KNOW what you are doing. You have had a baby before. Trust your instincts. You got this. So enjoy this time. And remember you haven’t just brought home a new child for you, but a best friend for your first-born.