Having only one child is Easy Street. I know this firsthand. I literally thought I had entered the Matrix when I had my first baby. And then, when it got kind of easy, I had another baby! Cue the panic attacks over dueling bedtimes and the big one’s school drop-off. So, when I saw actress Hilary Duff’s unfiltered and honest post about her first school drop-off morning alone with her kids, which ended with her 6-year-old covered in lipstick, I gave her a mental, “I feel ya, girl!”
When I had my second child, I panicked. Actually, I totally freaked out. I quickly went into a tailspin that had me shook. I didn’t know how to meet their potentially dueling needs without losing my mind.
Being an expert in not asking for help, I didn’t think to call in the cavalry: other moms of two. It’s not like I was the first female to have more than one child. I was surrounded by pros, but never thought to ask. Thankfully, the calvary came to me. Sensing my tailspin, a squad of moms went into full helpful mode and reached out to me and shared these mom-saving tips.
So, to Hilary, Carrie Underwood and all the famous and non-famous moms welcoming their second into the world, just breathe. You will survive. Here's how:
First and foremost, don’t panic.
Life might not look as scheduled as before. And it might look downright messy for a while, but you got this.
Don’t listen to the baby police about breastfeeding or anything else.
Your family looks different now and your parenting philosophy might need to become flexible. I decided not to breastfeed Baby No. 2 for the sheer reason of the constraints and pressure I perceived it put on me. Make the best decisions for yourself as you go from one to two. Your babies will be fine either way.
All hail screen time.
Our screen time rules are pretty strict, but being flexible about TV while I was in the infant trenches made a huge difference. My older son’s teachers assure me he’ll still go to college and knowing he was happily occupied when the baby had me occupied took a mountain of stress of my shoulders.
Your newborn needs warm, comforting, safe hands. They don’t always have to be yours.
When your bestie texts to ask you if she can bring you lunch, or your brother offers to watch the babies so you can take a shower, say yes! Your newborn needs warm, comforting, safe hands. They don’t always have to be yours.
If your baby has a father, structure life so he can help too.
If you didn’t have a baby solo, you’re not solo. So, if you have to mix bottles and nursing so Dad can take over some of the nights, do it! If he’s got baby paralysis because he doesn’t know how to interpret those cries (or doesn’t want to) that’s OK, he can learn on the job. You did.
Outsource what your budget allows.
If you can afford to have your groceries delivered or have someone come to clean once or twice a month, do it! If you can hire a great babysitter or nanny, even for a few hours a week, you’ll be happy you did. And, if your budget is tight (mine was), ask family and friends for help when you really need it.
Get support on weekends.
Can we all just finally admit that weekends suck when you have toddlers and babies at home? Get some help on the weekends—either a trusted babysitter on those long Sunday afternoons, or that totally kid-obsessed relative on a Saturday morning. An hour or two of guilt-free recharging can be just what Mom and Dad needed.
Plan alone time with your big kid.
This advice helped me immeasurably because much of my panic was how to find time for my firstborn. We were both missing each other, despite being thrilled with the arrival of No. 2. So, we'd schedule some fun time of his choosing while a babysitter, Dad or a lovely relative watched the little one.
Last but not least, be flexible with yourself. Your big one may be late to school every day for three weeks or the baby may go to sleep later than your big one did, but life will get to a new normal. You may feel alone now that you’ve got two kids, but you’re not. The cavalry is waiting. Trust me.