Now that I’m six weeks from my due date, I keep asking myself the same question over and over…
How are we going to do this?
My husband and I are over the moon, of course, about adding another sweet babe to our family. But the thought of feeding him every two hours, weathering postpartum recovery, and running on zero sleep, all while also caring for our two-year-old is making me nervous. Those newborn days already felt hard when I had to care for one child, so how do parents make it work when they’re caring for two or more?
My other worry? Ella has spent her first two years being the center of our lives. How is she going to feel — and react — when she no longer gets all our attention? The idea of her being confused, sad or feeling forgotten breaks my heart. So, to get some guidance and reassurance, I reached out to nine mothers with multiple kids. Here’s their advice…
On bonding with both kids:
“In the foggy early days, you might be tempted to nestle into a love cocoon with your new baby and send your older child out with your partner, friend or sitter. But while on maternity leave with my second son, I did the opposite: I left the baby at home and took my two-year-old to the playground. Just an hour (or less!) by ourselves felt so good because not only did he get my full attention, but it helped me feel better about the end of our time just the two of us.” — Jennie Tung
“Your heart grows to love your children exponentially. At first, I felt guilty that I didn’t bond enough right away with Anton. I loved my sweet newborn — but did I love him with all my heart and soul, like I loved Toby? Not yet. I had known Toby for three beautiful years and had played with him and laughed with him and cuddled him every day, and I knew everything about him. With Anton, he was brand new. It was like asking if you’re in madly love with someone on the first date. But as he grew, we fell for each other, and now both children are the great joys of my life.” — Joanna Goddard
“One trick that helped a lot in the early days: I made a special Big Sister Box with stickers, markers, and paper, and a few new-to-her small toys. Whenever I was busy with the baby, I would ask my four-year-old if she wanted to get out her Big Sister Box, so she’d have something special to do right alongside us.” — Virginia Sole-Smith
Hacks for making life more manageable:
“My friend introduced me to the concept of ‘Sites of Mutual Fulfillment’ — places where all members of the family enjoy going and everyone’s needs are met. For us, that means the local swimming pool, where one of us parents plays with the kids while the other does some meditative laps, and then we switch! Or our local nature reserve where the kids can run wild and we get a walk and fresh air.” — Mel Wiggins
“Whenever possible, choose ease! If it’s easier to have the baby nap in the carrier rather than in a sound-proof nursery with black-out curtains while you’re dashing to pick up the older sibling from school, do that. And if you find yourself unable to devote as much time to stimulating baby activities as you did with the first, let it go — watching their older sibling’s gymnastics class (or whatever it is) will be plenty stimulating — it will be different, not better or worse.” — Maggie Pouncey
You-got-this pep talks:
“Two kids is more than one kid, it’s true, but the best part about having a second baby is that you’ve got all this built-in muscle memory. I’d never swaddled a baby before my first kid was born, never used a breast pump, never struggled to open a stroller while holding an infant over a concrete sidewalk. When you’re doing it all for the first time, parenting can be physically awkward. The second time around, my body knew so much more of what to do, and the whole experience was less of a shock to the system. Change a diaper in the dark? Handled. ” — Erin Boyle
“If it feels, at times, like you’re starting from scratch with your parenting abilities, don’t shame yourself by thinking you ‘should’ already be good at this because you’ve done it before. Because the truth is, every child is different, so it’s normal to sometimes feel like a beginner again.” — Destini Davis
Feeling the joy:
“The first year after my youngest was born was wild because it felt like a balancing act having a two-year-old and an infant. But once you get out of the ‘baby’ stage, the load gets easier. And it’s so much fun when both children get older. When the younger one started talking to the older one, THOSE were some funny conversations. And seeing them crack each other up is just… beyond words.” — Nicole
“Allow it to be funny. Everyone around you will tell you how hard and stressful your life is, like ‘You’re in the thick of it!’ and ‘Wow, you’ve got your hands full!’ Yes, having multiple small kids is truly difficult at times, but it’s also so much fun during the good parts. Now whenever I see a mom of multiples out in the wild, I say something like, ‘Ahhh, what a dream, they’re lovely.” — Caroline Chambers
What would you add? This mama is all ears!
P.S. Three words to say to your kids, five tips for sibling rivalry, and Joanna talks about going from one kid to two.
(Photo by Padillarigau Mumsonfilm/Stocksy.)