Going From One to Two by Zaara Mum of Aliyah (3years) and Eesa (11months)
So you're expecting again and you think to yourself, how am I going to love another little human as much as my first little one?! Trust me you don't have to share the love, your whole heart just expands!
I read all the books, articles, forums etc but I knew nothing would really prepare me for the change that was about to happen...ultimately you do what works for you and your family not necessarily what a book says is best. However they did point me in a positive direction. So I was as prepared as can be.
Preparation Is Key!
Firstly getting your little one ready for a new arrival is super important. There are lots of reasons as to why it helps to prepare your little one as much as yourself before a new baby arrives but the main reason is that they will have to start sharing their mummy and daddy, nanny's , grandads and aunties and uncles too. The attention they once received will be slightly different. I tried to focus on preparing Aliyah for her new big sister role so that it was more about her than the new baby. We knew she was having a baby brother so we involved her in a lot. She had a Big Sister T-shirt ready for the arrival and he had a baby bodysuit that said 'just hatched baby pickle' of course they were for those all important birth announcement photos and Aliyah felt very special wearing hers. We made them here at Nelly and Me, the perks of having your own children's clothing brand. Another thing we found helped to prepare Aliyah was buying the baby a present for when he arrived (she got one from him too) and she had books to read about how to be a big sister and what new babies get up to. You can find these on amazon I'll pop a link below for those. These types of things really helped to set her expectations and make her feel even more important.
Now you yourself will want to spend as much time as possible with your first bundle of joy before baby no2 joins the party because once you're a family of four you'll be splitting time, reading to one while the other one sleeps and feeding one while the other one jumps all over you. Aliyah and I went to the cinema with daddy too and enjoyed some other fun activities in the lead up to babies arrival. Experts say It's important to get some one on one time with baby number 1 after the arrival and in the future also.
Communicate During The Lead Up!
As well as preparing for your baby shower and making sure you have all the newborn necessities,the lead up to a new arrival is also the time when you and your partner need to communicate effectively so that you're on the same page when it comes to helping each other. Some mothers get so overwhelmed with everything they feel they have to do so if you talk about roles and responsibilities beforehand you'll be able to manage this more easily. Cooking, cleaning, who's going to put baby number one to bed? These conversations will be ongoing of course and each couple will have their own ways of working but make sure to help eachother out!
The Age Gap!
Now no matter the age gap between your two babies there will be the initial first few months where you have very little or no time to yourself. Let's face it if one baby doesn't need something the other one will. That with all the other things you need to do like the cleaning, cooking and washing can become a never ending frustration if you let it. Please rest assured. THIS TIME WILL PASS. The best thing I could do was breathe and enjoy the moments I shared with my newborn and my 2.4year old. Even if none of us were showered and dressed. Just let it be for a while. I found Aliyah and Eesa's age gap quite good, she was 2 years and 4 months when he was born, she was out of nappies during the day, she was able to help me find things i.e. wipes, nappies etc and she could communicate effectively for what she wanted. Some of you will have a larger or smaller age gap and that's completely up to you, whatever the gap there will be difficult times and they will get easier.
The Best Things About Having Two!
There are so many benefits to having a second child. It caught me when I saw Aliyah and Eesa together. The love she had for him was something else. And seeing them interact together now just melts my heart, not to mention it gives me a little more time to myself. Also if you've mastered the art once then you can say goodbye to all the questions you had before. All the sleeping, feeding and teething ones. You can be much more relaxed and confident in your parenting skills the second time around. You'll also appreciate how quickly they grow and how fast the time passes so you'll want to enjoy every moment even more.
Your new baby will most likely be slightly different to your first baby. Enjoy getting to know your new mini you. Relax with the milestones and be open to a change of behaviour and temper tantrums or the lack of hopefully (wishful thinking).
The best advice I received was from a friend who has a boy and girl with similar age gaps to mine. That was...to stick to my routines. Children thrive off of routine so meal times and bedtimes should stay consistent and it will make life so much easier if you have set times for the other stuff too like washing, shopping and cleaning. If you have streamlined your life everyone will be in a better mood. Top tip: Have your basics stocked up, batch cook before the new arrival, keep a mum and baby and toddler basket in the main room of the house. Things to include are normally nappies, wipes, nappy bags, a muslin, toys and mum stuff like nipple cream if you're nursing, your pump if you're pumping, a little snack maybe, your phone charger or whatever you feel you often need throughout the day. That way you'll spend less time finding things and more time having fun together. Before you know it the kids will both eat together, bath together and go to sleep at the same time so your life will become so much easier.
The Easier Stage
As times gone on and everyone's sleeping through (most nights) Aliyah and Eesa are both thriving and its gotten easier for us all (trust me it does get easier)! Yes we still have to deal with a baby that's learning to walk and climb whilst our toddler is having a meltdown because she doesn't want the grapes that she literally just asked for! However I've found it really helps us stay positive when we stick to our daily timetable. Aliyah and I made it together as another fun activity that made her feel important. Include pictures and stickers and they'll love it! We make sure we get up and dressed, because let's face it you feel more productive once you're showered and dressed, we have set times for breakfast, screen time, outings, lunch, dinner, tidy up time, bath and bed. It helps us get things done quickly and keeps everyone in a happy mood. You can incorporate prizes at the end of the week if they get through all of the things on the timetable without any tantrums.
Make Time For Yourself And Eachother!
On a very important note make time for your partner. Plan date nights. Its so important to maintain your relationship because when people think having two children means having to give yourself over fully to parenthood? No it doesn't. I mean yes the kids are a huge priority however it's all about balance. Whether you're in a relationship or not, making time for yourself or yourselves is key to a happy family. Plan plan plan. See friends and family, girls get your hair done, go for a run or enjoy your hobbies, do what you used to do when you can because you will be happier for it. Men too! We all need adult conversation whether we go to work or stay at home. I know it can be difficult to get babysitters so even if you make time for yourself or yourselves at home, maintain who you are mum!! I sure do!
Enjoy Every Moment!
I wish you all the best for your new arrival and your family, if you took anything from this post I hope you have made note to enjoy all of the precious moments you share. Thank you for reading if you've got this far I hope it's been a help if you're going from one to two. And who knows maybe I'll go to three one day but if I do you'll sure hear about it!
Zaara (trying to boss the mum life) xx
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