Motherhood is a challenging job whether you’re new to it or experienced. The most difficult part about it is that you can read all the books ever written on parenting.
Yet nothing can ever prepare you for motherhood until your baby arrives. Things don’t really get easier with ‘experience’ either. This is simply because every baby is different. Which can make transitioning from a mum of one to mum of two very difficult.
When I fell pregnant with my son, one of the first things I did was make my daughter aware that there was going to be a new addition to the family.
I had heard stories of how siblings find it difficult to transition from being an only child to having to share parents. So, I made sure that I prepared my daughter.
I thought if I prepared her right from the start, she would be ready for the new arrival and all would be fine.
Well, that was true to an extent. However, I spent so much time prepping my daughter I forgot to prep myself!
I thought since I was already a mother, I knew it all. I had changed a diaper and made formula a thousand times before. So, what’s the worst that could happen? As far as I was concerned, if I applied the techniques that worked for my daughter, caring for my son would be a walk in the park. Right? Wrong! Being a mum second time around was the biggest parenting learning curve I’ve experienced. It was daunting. My son was nothing like my daughter, he cried all the time.
Everything that worked for my daughter, did not work for him whatsoever. At times, I felt completely inadequate and mostly felt guilty because I was failing at the most natural task in the world.
I saw no positive in my situation. I wasn’t sure how to make ‘it’ better. My daughter became clingy, she cried every two seconds. My son, unlike my daughter, was a night owl. Which meant I was awake pretty much 24 hours a day.
I was stressed, tired and snapped at everyone, anyone and anything! Unfortunately for my husband, he fell into all three categories.
Thankfully, most of this drama can be minimised by following the simple steps:
ACCEPTING THE BABY BEFORE SHE ARRIVES
Firstly, acknowledge and accept the fact that no two babies are the same! This rule also applies to siblings. What worked for your first child(ren) might not work for your newborn? Accept that the experience will be different and you might have to do some things a little differently this time around.
Ensure the older sibling accepts the arrival of the newborn. Allow them to bond with the newborn baby. Don’t be so quick to dismiss their request to kiss the baby. Although I must stress keep a very close eye. Show them that the arrival of the newborn baby does not threaten nor compromise their relationship with you. As it shouldn’t.
The other person to consider is your partner. As second or third time mothers, we tend to forget our partners and solely focus on the kids. We automatically assume ‘he’s a grown man and he can take care of himself’ right? – by the way that’s a rhetorical question, no need for an answer. The fact of the matter is, he’s a man and he WILL crave your attention and care too.
However, that said, he also needs to learn and accept that he’s not first on the list of receiving attention – because let’s be honest, as a new mum, you’re hardly going to put yourself first before your partner…I think it’s something to do with all those maternal hormones.
DEVIDING YOUR ATTENTION AMONGST ALL THE FAMILY MEMBERS
The ability to divide your attention between people daily is no easy task. Especially with the unpredictability of motherhood. However, work out a routine, draw up a weekly plan if you must. Try to spend alone time with your other child(ren).
This can be as simple as taking them to the park, or school/nursery without the newborn. If they’re not at nursery, sign them up for activities that will get them out of the house and away from the new-born for a bit. It should be something fun and enjoyable. Activities like swimming, dance class usually work well.
Show an interest in the activity and allow them time to tell you how things are going. If you are unable to get a babysitter try to have your quality play time at home while baby takes a nap. You can draw, play games, dance to her favourite songs – the list is endless.
Even if it’s just for an hour, it’s enough to make your other child(ren) not feel left out.
Spending some alone time with the newborn baby is just as important. Just because the baby isn’t very mobile and can’t speak doesn’t mean they don’t require emotional attention.
Alone time allows you and baby to bond. This is crucial. This time can when feeding, diaper changing – take a little longer with the nappy change or bath time.
Just ensure the room is at the correct temperature to avoid baby getting cold.
Be sure you pencil in your partner. most men feel left out and ignored by their partner once a baby is in the picture, imagine how they feel when there’s more than one child in the house! Show him you have not forgotten him and his needs.
You don’t have to go out to dinner or to the movies each time. You can stay home, crack open a bottle of wine, put on some makeup and that dress he likes. Netflix and chill – trust me, men are easily pleased no matter what they say.
He will appreciate the attention.
Most importantly, do not forget yourself! You need to spend time with you! To relax and unwind. To rejuvenate and just be you.
You need to remember you are human and not a machine, you don’t run on pure oil or electricity, heck even machines need recharging from time to time.
You need to have an off button and don’t be afraid to use it. Find out more on this in my post Rediscovering Yourself After Motherhood.
FINANCIAL PREPARATION OF THE NEW BABY
Unfortunately, babies do not come with a right to a pay rise – Don’t you just wish they did!
So being smart with money is key. Buy things like diapers and wipes in bulk and especially when they are on sale.
Buy things ahead of time, don’t run out of formula and then realise you’re on your last £5. make sure the budget outlined for the children is separate but secondary to your main household one.
You can have a look at How to Budget on a Low Income and adjust it to your children. When you shop, don’t just buy things for the newborn, always plan to include all children when you’re shopping for your kids.
Say for example your newborn needs new baby grows, pick up a cute little top for your eldest child as well. It doesn’t have to be from a top department store, it can even be Even better if it’s on sale.
Remember you are now including an extra person in your budget.
All said I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s easy because it’s not. I’ve left this till last because I believe this part of you is affected the most. With hormone levels skyrocketing and plummeting at a moment’s notice, your emotions are, at the best of time, Everywhere.
You cry and yet you don’t know why you’re crying. You then cry some more because you don’t know why you’re crying. At times, I woke up not wanting to get out bed.
Other times, I didn’t even have a chance to stay in bed long enough. It will be difficult but be patient with people around you. It’s just as difficult for them. Breath in and out at least five times before you snap at your *whoever is stood in front of you*. Just remember when you have a terrible day, It’s just another day. What used to help me was reviewing my actions throughout the day, and thinking of ways I can react better to a similar situation.
Don’t worry, babies don’t stay babies for long. This situation is momentary and that phase will pass. Before you know, that baby will be a toddler and will soon be semi-dependent. Your child will soon have a ‘best friend’ to play with and all this will soon come to pass.
Thinking back to when I was transitioning, I never thought the long days and even longer nights would end. But they did and now I see my children playing together and the love my daughter has for her brother and vice versa – Honestly, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Don’t let the bad days make you feel like you’re failing or you’re not cut out for it because you are.
What self-confessed ‘real’ mother knows exactly what they are doing, anyway?
- How to Prepare For A Baby On A Budget
- Rediscover Yourself After Motherhood
- 10 Tips For Living Clutter-Free Even With Kids