The moment I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I panicked. I wanted another baby so badly, but life with my feisty toddler was difficult and constantly changing and I had no idea what new challenges having a family of four would bring. I knew that if I wanted to be a good mom to two children I needed a solid plan; something I could rely on when the you-know-what hit the fan. Thankfully, I learned there are ways you can prepare for a second child that will set you up for success.
I'm no stranger to routines and schedules. Because I live with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), I rely on carefully crafted plans to function and feel comfortable as I navigate my daily life and the plethora of responsibilities that come with it. As a result, my oldest was raised on my detailed schedules and routines which, turns out, is a good thing when you're preparing for a second kid. Not only has my oldest always been on a solid, reliable sleep schedule, but by the time my partner and I brought her little brother home from the hospital she was able to adjust from one schedule to another, as long as it was explained to her and we allowed her time to adjust.
Whether you're having your second child or your sixth, things are going to change when you add another kid to the fold. And while even the most carefully crafted parenting plans can end up getting thrown out the proverbial window, I have learned that there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for parenting success as a mom of two. So with that in mind, here's how I prepped for the birth of my second kid that turned out to be beneficial:
I Focused On My Toddler
It's easy to focus on the soon-to-be baby growing inside your belly, but when I found out I was pregnant my focus remained on my toddler. I wanted to prepare her for the birth of her sibling as best as I could, and that meant having numerous ongoing conversations about how this was going to change her life, too. I wanted her to know how much I loved her, how much that future baby was going to love her, and how I would always be there for her. I wanted her to know that yes, things would be different, but what wasn't going to change — what would never change — is how important she was to me.
Those conversations, I believe, were one of the main reasons why she was so happy when her brother was born. We never dealt with her feeling angry or confused or jealous: she knew that her brother didn't take anything away from her. Instead, he was just a bunch of happy additions.
According to Parenting , bringing your toddler to doctor visits, for example, is a great way to make sure they maintain some of your focus while you're pregnant.
I Stuck To A Schedule That Already Worked
No two children are completely alike, of course, but I let my daughter take the lead and relied on the scheduled that already worked for our family to pave the way for the scheduled I was sure to set as a mom of two. Yes, the baby had his own sleep schedule, but if I kept things separate I learned that one schedule didn't have to completely overhaul the other. Turns out, I was on to something. It's actually beneficial to provide separate sleep spaced for your kids, according to the Baby Sleep Site.
Honestly, I think mostly sticking to those schedules that we knew worked for us — but adapting when necessary — is the biggest reason why we figured it all out sooner than most. I didn't need to freak myself out and assume everything was going to change all over again. Some things, it turns out, didn't have to change at all.
I Gathered My Village
Moms need help, people. I didn't let anyone, myself included, believe that just because I had already been a mom to one child that I wasn't going to need help being a mom to another. I let people know when and where they could bring meals, who could babysit my toddler if necessary, who was allowed and welcomed to come to the hospital after the baby was born, and what materials people could feel free to bring if they were going to visit. (Diapers! Always diapers!)
I Talked To Other Moms Of Two
I had no idea what to expect with more than one child. I mean, my toddler had already given me a run for my money. So you better believe I talked to moms who'd already been there and done that. Some of their pieces of advice I took, and other pieces I left behind. But in the end, just hearing their shared and unique experiences made me feel like, "OK, I can do this."
For example, mom-of-two Joanna Cormier told Parents, "Keep this mantra in mind: There's only so much I can do, so just handle the greater need first."
I Had Meals Prepared In Advance
Before I gave birth, I had a thoughtful friend volunteer to fill my freezer with heat-and-eat meals. We spent all day preparing things that would take little-to-no effort to reheat and/or cook once the baby arrived.
You guys, this was life changing.
You wouldn't think it's such a big deal to whip something up, but when you have a fussy baby who won't sleep, a partner who has to return to work, and a demanding toddler hanging off your arm, cooking can seem damn-near impossible. Those pre-made meals fed us for months, and I never had to feel bad about ordering in or relying on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I Gave Myself Permission To Fail
You could say I learned the hard way, but when I had my first baby I was convinced I had to do everything perfectly. Then I realized that there is no such thing as a perfect mom, and I was certainly far from anything resembling perfection. So with my second child I told myself, over and over again, that it was OK to fail. Hell, making mistakes and then adjusting as needed was how I learned to be a mom in the first place. And giving myself that kind of grace and understanding really, and truly, made all the difference.
According to a 2018 report published in Frontiers in Psychology, the pressure to be perfect negatively impacts moms' mental health, parental burnout, and career goals. I wasn't going to let that happen again, so I threw the idea of perfection out the damn window.