Monday, January 24, 2011

1, 2, Buckle My Shoe

Being a new mother can be exciting, stressful, enjoyable and tiring. And so it is when baby #2 comes around. Transitioning from 1 to 2 kids has many ups and downs, and for me it was a big adjustment. I was really lucky because my husband works from home, and so I was able to have more help than a lot of women. Here are just a few things I experienced this year.

3 Best Things:

1. The love you feel for your children. If you thought you loved your only child, just wait until #2 comes along. Before #2 came, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to love him as much as I loved #1. Boy was I wrong. Not only did I instantly love him unconditionally, but it made my love for #1 grow as I was able to see her grow up into a big sister.

2. The love your children have for each other. It is sweet to watch my daughter take care of her little brother. She talks so sweetly to him, and always wants to help. My advice is to remember that your attitude towards the new baby will greatly affect your older child’s attitude. If they always hear your frustrated voice, that is the kind of voice they will use with the baby. If they see you love and nurture and laugh with your baby, that is how they will act too. And it is even better to watch my baby light up when he sees his sister. He loves her more than anyone. I love watching her make him laugh. She is the only one who can get him to give that awesome belly laugh.

3. Feeling much more comfortable about being a mom. Since this wasn’t my first baby, I already felt comfortable in the mother role, and knew what to expect (for the most part). I am much less paranoid and over-protective. I have a much more relaxed attitude this time around.

3 Hardest Things:

1. Feeling like I was not giving enough attention to #1. At first this was not a problem, because newborns sleep a lot. But as he grew out of that, I found it hard to balance my time between both of them. I was so used to being able to devote my whole day to #1, and now I have to divide my time between 2 kids…and a helpless baby usually needs more attention. Even now, as my son is crawling all over the place, I feel like I’m always chasing him around and never get to sit down and play with my daughter. So I try not to get on the computer or have lengthy phone conversations during the day—I save that for after the kids are in bed. And I’ve learned to use #2’s nap time as a special play time for my daughter and I. It’s hard, because there are so many other things I want to get done around the house while he is asleep, but I know that I’ll feel like a better mom if I have some one-on-one time with my daughter. And that brings me to the next point….

2. Feeling like my house is always messy. I could get all of my housework done in one day when it was just my daughter and I. But now it is a trick just to keep the dishes out of the sink! I’ve learned to divide up my chores and do some each day. Monday I go to the grocery store, Tuesday is laundry day, Wednesday I recover the kitchen from the disastrous state it is in, Thursday is for bathrooms, and Friday is my day off. Saturday I enlist the help of my husband to do other odds and ends like mopping and vacuuming. I have also learned to clean up toys once a day. Otherwise I’d be doing it all day long. Live with the mess while the kids are playing, then clean up at bedtime so it’s clean for the next day. Totally unrelated, but here is another time-saving trick I use—bathe them at the same time. When #2 was a newborn, I would stick the infant bath inside the tub with big sister. #1 loved helping, and #2 loved having big sister to watch.

3. Keeping #1 away from baby! When he was a newborn, this was mostly to make sure he wasn’t kissed to death. #1 loved him so much, and wasn’t always aware of her own strength. Now that #2 is mobile and getting into her toys, she occasionally gets mad and knocks him over. I just keep reminding her that if #2 is touching something he shouldn’t, to ask mom to move him instead. And I always praise her when she touches him soft and lovingly.

But this was not only a transition for me, but for #1 as well. So I’ll quickly share some things I did to help my daughter adjust to the new addition:

• While I was pregnant, we talked a lot about the new baby. She even came to my ultrasounds. We talked about how baby was growing big and strong inside mommy, and soon he would come to live at our house.

• We got her a big girl bed a few months before the baby came. That way she didn’t resent the baby for taking her crib away once he arrived.

• We read lots of stories about being a big sister.

• I let her help me as much as possible. I don’t know if every kid is like this, but she was so eager to help. She wanted to do everything for the baby. But because I knew there would be things that she wouldn’t be able to help me with, I bought her a bath tub and high chair for her doll, and refinished my old doll bed for her so that she could take care of her baby while I was doing the same things for #2.

• I make sure to give her one-on-one time while he is napping, and my husband and I take turns taking her out on “dates” without brother. She has fun doing something special just the two of us (even if it’s just going to the park to feed the ducks or getting some ice cream).

There are so many more things I’m learning as I go along. What are your experiences with your growing family?

Marie is a stay at home mom of two adorable kiddos who keep her super busy! She has a dual degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education and continues to use her degree everyday of her mommy career!

Marie is one of my good friends and someone I look up to very much as a mommy. She has tons of fun ideas for things to do with your kids - so keep an eye out for her future guest posts.

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