Going from having one to two children in the family can be extremely stressful! It is common to experience some anxiety about this during your pregnancy. Read below to discover ways in which to cope with the stress that you may experience from this transition.
Imagine this scenario, you’re six months pregnant and sharing with a colleague that you’re beginning to get nervous about how you’re going to manage two children. Your colleague responds by tell you not to think about that right now and that you have plenty of time to “figure it out.” She continues on to say that stress is not good for the baby and that she had two under two and made it work! You take a sigh of relief and move about attempt to move about your day. However, you can’t stop worrying! So, what now? You’ve likely stopped voicing your concerns out loud. On top of this all, now every time this worry creeps up on you, you try to shove it back down and ignore it!
I don’t want you to fall into this scenario.
I want you to cope ahead! That means consider the various scenarios that may take place in the first few months of having two children instead of one. Some of those scenarios may be anxiety provoking, but that’s okay! The goal is to run through these scenarios in your mind so that they become familiar! Your brain will shift into action when the time comes rather than adapting to a state of shock.
Now that you’ve considered a few scenarios that may take place, I want you to plan ahead for them! Write down steps that you will take to navigate these scenarios. Even if the step seems small or like common sense, write them down. I want you to reference this list and note each step that you have been able to accomplish for whichever scenario that you are navigating! Our brains respond extremely well to plans with steps that we are able to complete. It gives us confidence and the ability to move forward when we feel like we can’t possibly make it another day like this! Planning ahead will also mean asking for help in advance. Let other’s around you know that you would like help in the beginning and what that may look like. Remember, people cannot help you if you do not know what you need.
Be gentle on yourself (and others!)
Keep in mind that this adjustment is huge for the entire family! It is common for older siblings to begin to show signs of behavioral changes. This can be extremely frustrating, especially when you are running on two hours of sleep! Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is all developmentally appropriate. The older child is coping with now having to share mama and is potentially noting that you may be having a hard time as of late. It is common for the older child to then associate the new baby as the cause for mama being upset! This does not mean that you should not allow yourself to become emotional around your children, it’s just a reminder that children are observers! There is nothing wrong with sharing your feelings with your children as you would expect them to do with you!
My toddler wanted seemingly nothing to do with me when we brought the new baby home and very much clung to my husband. I received plenty of unhelpful advice about being sure to essentially smother my toddler in attention when the baby is sleeping and a slew of other related comments about him being “desperate” for one on one attention. Instead I made sure to involve my toddler in as many baby related activities as I could AND involve the baby in activities with my toddler as well. It is not humanly possible to be in two places at one time, don’t do that to yourself. The goal is to make the transition as seamless and realistic as possible!
Any time feelings of guilt creep up about the lack of perceived attention that you are no longer providing your older child, remember that you were able to give your eldest that one on one attention when they were a baby. All you are doing is trying to provide the same level or nurture for your second child as well. It can be done! It will just look different this time around! The same thing goes for feelings of guilt for not being able to give your newborn one on one attention. Keep in mind that they will know no different! They will always grow up with the presence of multiple children in the household.
So shake that feeling of guilt mama! The amount of time that you spend with each child will not matter. The goal is to think of your children as a unit. You are loving and nurturing them all together.
To learn more about Deema and her professional background, read our “All About Deema“ blog post!