3 Tips For Helping Your Family Adjust To Baby #2.
If you are anything like me, you may be thinking that that since you survived with your first baby, you are experienced and can repeat the process. I hate to break it to you, but many parents find that their second baby is often different from their first and what worked with their first does not work with their second. 🙂
Sometimes your first baby is easy going and you do not experience much of an adjustment to parenthood. However, with your second or third it may not be the same experience. Each baby comes with such different temperaments and personality that it is important to be flexible in your thoughts about how the adjustment will go.
For this reason, I have some tips for you as you prepare for baby #2 (or more!)
Prepare for Support and Help just like you (hopefully) did for your first.
Now that you are becoming a family of 4 or more, not only does the baby need to be taken care of, but so does the toddler or older child. Most people forget that mom needs to be taken care of too during this postpartum period. The expectation that moms just jump back in to their regular duties is not realistic. Moms often do jump back in because that is what moms do, but you need to express your need for help.
Help may come in the form of your toddler going to child care, having a babysitter come help, a night nurse or postpartum doula. It may be you need someone to help with housework and meal prep. You may need to ask friends, family and others around you for extra help even if it is hard. You do not have to do all the things just because you think you can.
A common struggle for moms is wanting to control how things are done and that will leave you feeling like you should just do it yourself. Communicate with your partner about what will help you as you both adjust to another baby. Let some things go so you can recover and focus on yourself and baby.
Ask a friend to come hold your baby for an hour while you spend time your older child. Friends love to hold and snuggle new babies! It is a learning curve balancing two young kids so give yourself grace and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Connect With Your Older Child
There is a good chance your toddler or older child will show his/her feelings about a new arrival through their behavior.
Your older child may have been excited at first to be a big brother or sister but once the baby starts taking over their house, parents time, etc they often start to show how they feel about this. If you can spend 10 minutes a day playing with your child on the floor and following their lead, that will help your child to feel more connected to you and feel more valued and loved.
During this special play time, make sure to not ask questions, teach or direct. This is a time for you to play whatever your child wants to play and to just join him/her. There is no pressure – the focus is to build your relationship with your child by showing you are interested in whatever they want to do. You will be amazed at how much you can learn about your child if you sit and watch and wonder about what your child is thinking and feeling in their play.
Find time to connect with your partner.
Make sure to make time for each other even when you are exhausted.
When a new baby comes into a family, this is typically a very chaotic and challenging time for everyone. Creating time together can be as simple as watching a 30 minute show together after your kids (hopefully!) go to bed. Or taking time to eat dinner together after feeding the littles.
According to the Gottman’s (marriage researchers and experts) they say that “as the couple’s relationship is changing, conflict often increases and communication between partners decreases and becomes stressful.” It is easy to become more moody and short with your partner when you are not getting enough sleep and time for self care. It is important to communicate without being critical and try to avoid the “you always” or “you never” statements that can trigger a fight or argument.
It is not easy adjusting to another new baby in the home but remember the sleepless nights don’t last forever.
Remember you are surviving and adjusting to your new family of 4! If you are experiencing more sadness and anxiety than usual, talk to your doctor or a mental health therapist that specializes in postpartum women and adjustment issues.
Malaika Clelland, LCSW, RPT-S
Therapy for Moms & Growing Families