Round Two: Transitioning to Two Kids

Posted by  | Thursday, February 25, 2010  at 3:14 PM  
Hi, POH readers! It is a pleasure to be a guest author again! The topic of transitioning from one child to two children is one that is my reality right now. My older son Noah is three, and my baby Gabe is two months old. Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Gabe was born roughly a month before Noah turned three, so they are almost three years apart. I have to say that having two kids has made me wonder what I thought was so hard about having one! Haha! I feel like we are still in survival mode a lot of days, so here are my brutally honest thoughts, fresh from the trenches . . . in list form as my brain is still not functioning in complete thoughts.

Why we chose this age gap:

*Noah was not an easy baby at first. I was gun-shy.

*We have to use fertility treatment to have children. It’s a long story, but we had to be able to afford the procedures and medications. Even if we had endless money, I still think we would’ve waited due to my previous statement.

The pro’s of a three-year age gap:

*Noah is old enough to be independent with certain things and can help out with basic baby tasks.

*My body had a nice little break between pregnancies.

*We had a short break from diapers before starting back up again.

*We had all major transitions out of the way before baby arrived: moving to a twin bed, potty-training, etc.

*As a three-year-old, Noah has a longer attention span with toys and can occupy himself while I’m busy with baby.

*Hearing what Noah has to say to and about his brother is so special. His prayers for his brother are ones that I will treasure forever!

The con’s of this age gap:

*We had gotten used to some freedom with the predictable schedule of a pre-schooler, and it has been challenging to revert back to living life in three-hour cycles.

*Noah’s independence and ability to help can be overwhelming at times. He gets his feelings hurt sometimes if I don’t want him to help or if I don’t have time for him to do something (ie get dressed) all by himself.

*Due to Noah’s activities, he brings in germs from other kids. We are currently battling a cold and double ear infections with Gabe courtesy of pre-school.

How we prepared Noah:

*We did all the typical stuff: read books about being a big brother, talked about the baby, etc.

*We visited a friend who had a newborn. This actually made a big impression on Noah—he saw basic baby care taking place, and we used that as a point reference.

*We started “forcing” independence during my last trimester, mainly with play. We have a split level home, and Noah’s play area is downstairs. I would say, “Mommy is going to be upstairs for a while. You can stay down here and play.” It took a few weeks before he would stay down there longer than five minutes, but I’m glad we encouraged independent play before Gabe arrived on the scene.

*Noah and I have a special dialogue, and it goes something like this:

Me: Noah, you know that you’re my special boy.

Noah: Yes!

Me: Why are you Mommy’s special boy?

Noah: I mommy's first baby!

If we’ve had a particularly hectic few hours focused on the baby, we go through this several times. It always makes us both smile!

*We looked at Noah’s baby book and showed him videos of himself as a baby. He loved it!

What we should’ve done:

*I wish we had taught him to be totally independent with the potty before Gabe came home. He was totally potty-trained three months before Gabe got here, but he would always request help getting his pants up and down, climbing up on the potty, etc. He now can do it because he had to, but we've had some issues with appropriate bathroom behavior since he's been unsupervised in there at times:

*I wish we had taught him to be totally independent with eating. He can use a fork and spoon just fine, but we got into a habit of “helping” him eat.

Challenges we are facing:

*Noah knows that if we are feeding Gabe, he can get away with a lot more. Thus, he tests boundaries more when we are indisposed. We’ve had to really tighten the reins on enforcing first-time obedience.

*We were surprised by the lack of patience we suddenly had with Noah. Being sleep-deprived and riding the hormonal roller coaster back to normal have been challenging. I’ve been praying for patience A LOT and would appreciate your prayers as well!

*Mommy-guilt! I feel so guilty sometimes that I just don’t have the time I used to with only Noah. I feel guilty that Noah watches way more TV than he used to. I feel guilty that Gabe has had to cry so I can deal with Noah. I feel guilty when Noah is telling me he’s thirsty so politely and I can’t stop and fill his cup. I feel guilty for wanting to go back to work early just to escape, etc.

*Making time for our marriage.

What has been easier this time around:

*Recovering from delivery has been a lot easier.

*I feel much more relaxed because I knew what to expect and that there is an end to the craziness. Right???

*Crying doesn’t bother me nearly as much. I know all the “tricks” to soothe a baby and don’t feel as lost.

*Leaving Gabe with someone else doesn’t bother me nearly as much. I used to have anxiety about leaving Noah, even with grandparents. I was always worried if he was fussy, eating well, etc.

*I feel like I can enjoy the baby more. I know how quickly they grow up!

What has been harder this time around:

*It’s not possible to “sleep when the baby sleeps”.

*LAUNDRY! Oh, it never seems to end, especially since Gabe has reflux and both of us are changing clothes several times a day.

*Gabe is a different kid with different issues—reflux and diaper rash are two issues we never dealt with before, and it’s been hard just because it’s new to us. He is also not as good of a sleeper as Noah was, so that’s challenging.

Advice I have:

*PRAY!!! Breathe deeply. Pray.

*Encourage independence in your older child before baby arrives—as much as is developmentally appropriate, of course.

*Try to take your older child somewhere with only you in those first few weeks. I took Noah to Target with me for an hour and let him have popcorn and lemonade while we walked around. It was good for both of us!

*Tell your husband specific ways he can help. Most men are willing to help but cannot always intuit what needs to be done.

*Never turn down offers for help, whether it’s a meal or someone taking your older child for a few hours.

*Ask for help. I wish I had asked for help when my husband came down with pneumonia, and I was in charge of two kids completely by myself for 48 hours. I have never been more stressed and tired, and I should’ve called someone to help me!

*Make meals ahead of time. The most stressful times for me have been when Noah’s lunch/dinner time rolls around, and I have nothing prepared and can’t prepare anything because Gabe is still eating. I’m a strong schedule person, so that’s a big stressor for me!

*Invest in a sling or a carrier of some sort so you can wear your baby and multi-task. This has been a life-saver!

*Get any problem behaviors under control before baby comes along. First-time obedience is key—you will not have the patience or the time to negotiate when your baby is screaming. While we don’t have this issue, if you’re having any issues with sleep or bedtime, I could see how that would add a ton of stress.

I hope this post hasn’t been too negative. Like I said, we are in still in the thick of things and are still learning how to juggle everything. Please feel free to comment and share your own experiences, encouragements, and tips on transitioning to more children!


Rachael Davis said...

Not too negative at reality!! I have a 3 and a half year old and a 5 and a half month old, and you wrote about my reality! : ) Thanks for the honesty - good to hear that the ups and downs are normal.

Becky said...

I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only one who wanted to go back to work! I couldn't wait and I only have one. While I miss him during the day, it makes me appreciate the time I have with him even more. Good luck with all that you're going through right now!

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