Monday, February 23, 2009

Input requested!

As the arrival of our baby approaches, I'd like to tap into your collective wisdom and experience regarding the transition to two kids. I would love to hear your stories and advice--anything related to preparing, initial adjustments and beyond. What has worked (or not) for you and your family? Any ideas for helping Nathan (age 2) with the transition?

Thank you so much for taking the time to share--I really appreciate it!

Speaking of babies, we welcomed a new niece into our family yesterday--we can't wait to meet you, Addison!


Angela - Life w/ Two Busy Boys said...

Since I just recently added number two I do have lots of thoughts. First, not to be scary but it was quite a bit more of a transition then I thought but it has been wonderful.

1. The baby b'jorn has been fantastic to be able to take both kids places. I carry the baby in the b'jorn and put J in the cart when grocery shopping etc. It makes everything much easier.
2. I found that before I sit down to nurse or feed baby I should always anticipate all of J's needs first...get him a cup of milk, snack, activity.
3. I have found filling J's time meter at least 5 minutes each hour has made things like jealousy stay at bay. And by time meter I mean giving him undivided attention at least for 5 straight minutes every hour. It might sound strange to think only 5 minutes but in the beginning especially w/ nursing it's hard to find that time.
4. I tell the baby outloud that he will have to wait for me to help J. I think this has been a big help in J knowing that sometimes the baby comes 2nd to him and not always the other way around.
5. I sit on the floor alot to feed the baby etc so that I'm at least with J.
6. I ask J a lot if I can play with him or if I can go in his room for one on one time...I think it makes him feel very special.
7. I potty trained him before the baby came which was a huge help.
8. In general, we talked a lot about the baby and how he would cry etc.
9. I let J help a lot...he gets me diapers, wipes, bibs, etc...he actually gets mad if I get a diaper myself.
10. I had a gift from the baby to J and vice versa that they exchanged at the hospital. When J came to the hospital he was very apprehensive and strange acting until they exchanged gifts and it totally changed his mood.

Hope this helps...I'm so very excited for you!!

Mary said...

I think that every family is a little different, but for our family, the key has always seemed to be love and attention.

We always tried to just let the older sibling(s) feel as involved as possible. Letting them feel a sense of responsibility for the baby, which helps foster that love.

We also tried not to tell them "not right now, I have to take care of the baby". If the toddler needed something and I was busy with the baby, it turned into a "we need to" take care of the baby and then we'll...

The sling was a lifesaver here - I could still hold and rock the baby and have my hands free for my "other" baby. When my youngest was born, her brother was 20 months old, but still liked the sling a lot, so I would wear two and have my hands free for the 3 and 4 year olds!

I also tried not to let others take care of the toddler too much when they had asked me for something. If a friend was over and the toddler needed something, I had the friend take the baby when possible.

We didn't shower the siblings with gifts when a new baby came along. The acquaintances that we knew who tried that had some serious sibling jealousy - usually about Mom and Dad's attention, not the toys. The new baby was our gift, God's way of sharing more of His love with our family and giving us a way to serve him. ***I just previewed and saw Angela's comment - I'm not talking about the sibling-baby gifts that she mentions, it was when all of the friends and family wanted to give the older siblings toys when they came to see the baby. We requested that they give the sibling some extra time cuddling or playing a game instead.

I hope the comments you receive help set your mind at ease. :)

Jean said...

In addition to Angela's words of widsom... stockpile meals in freezer. They are very invaluable when you are adjusting to two babies. This is one thing I regretted not doing with second child. I did a little but NOT ENOUGH. Just plop frozen meal in oven, pan on stove, or slowcooker. Consider occasional household help. With my second, I wished someone would come at least one afternoon a week to do most basic housekeeping! At least for first few months! Oh, by the way, never force older child to adjust to baby sooner than he is ready. Let him/her go but be sure to spend regular undivided attention with him/her no matter what. It does help a lot that I don't pay attention to my elder child all the time. Try talking with child about pregnancy (there's baby in there, he/she is coming out soon, etc) so it won't be a total shock. My oldest didn't fully understand but it is there. Hummm, if elder like story time well- you could make some of feeding time also a story time?

I have just two daughters- 29 months apart.

Mom2Drew said...

Andrew was 18months when nathaniel arrived. My biggest tip involves feeding times. I noticed andrew starting to act out more when I would feel Nathaniel. I realized he just wanted attention and all of a sudden...mommy was "tied up." so...while you're feeding your precious new baby, make sure to use it as a special time for your son too. Maybe let him read a special book during that time, right close to you, or talk to him, or just make him feel connected to you and to the baby. That went a LONG way for us.

Tracy N said...

I think you will be a little surprised at how much "easier" it is. Remember the feeling of your first born and how everything was new and you were stumbling to figure this whole "mom" thing out? With the new baby you'll have to figure out balance but you'll laugh at the memory of yourself as a first timer. The crying won't freak you out as much and monitoring the diapers and the feedings isn't nearly so overwhelming!

Not that having two is easy...but at least it's not as scary!

Tracy said...

oops! Tracy N was me...

Debbie J. said...

We had baby no. 2 (and 3) bring home the oldest child a small gift from the hospital, which eased the shock a little and started their friendship.

My oldest was a girl, so she pretended to take care of a baby doll along with me. She even pretended to breast feed! LOL

I agree with Angela, anticpate Nathan's needs ahead of time so that he isn't needing anything when you are feeding the baby.

Take it easy, as possible, during this time. Only concentrate on taking care of the two babies during this time. Plan ahead as many meals, etc. as possible.

It will all work out!

Bevy said...

I don't know that I have really any input...cause I'm still trying to figure it all out. My little ones are 15 1/2 months apart (not planned) and I really thought "How would I ever survive?" - but by God's grace alone, every moment of every day... It's all okay. It's actually fun now, as they are now 21 and 5 1/2 months respectively. They have this connection or communication that sometimes makes me feel left out. haha
I guess one thing that comes to mind - a friend encouraged me with this bit of advice. "Do what works for the moment and know that tomorrow is another day".
That has certainly helped me.
Phillipians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me Strength". Is something that I still cling to on a daily basis.
It's humbling to remember that it's a new generation that I am helping to raise up. Lord Willing, a God-fearing young Man and a Godly Woman for His glory - not mine. And somehow that is to happen in the what? The daily, mundane, day-to-day dealings with little hearts... little sinners!

Thinking of you in "the daze" to come!

Kristin said...

Hey Carrie -

Looks like you've gotten some great comments already. I just want to say that, in light of the fact that your first was more of a challenge, I think you might just find that this transition may not be so bad. The juggling of two little ones is and will still be demanding, but because you've already charted through some challenging waters, I think things will go well. I know you are preparing well!

The thing that worked best for us was to get the baby on a feeding/napping schedule that works into your current schedule with Nathan. This doesn't happen immediately obviously, but when more of a schedule can be achieved, I definitely didn't want to nurse at the lunch hour or dinner hour if possible, and tried to start our first feeding before Brianna got up. Then the baby could almost go down for a nap again when Nathan needs to be attended to for the start of his day. I think I was able to work it out that I only needed to nurse 2 times while Brianna was up and I was alone - mid-morning and late afternoon. And then for those times, it would be blanket time at my feet for one of them, and often a video for the other time. And before you know it, you'll drop another feeding! I found that a schedule is more important than ever with #2 child and beyond so that you can anticipate and not just react.

Can't wait to add another niece to the family!! You're going to be great parents!

thehomespunheart said...

I would echo what Kristen said about nap schedule!

I was going to suggest reading during nursing sessions - this was a big help for us and I see others mentioned this as well.

And, having a carrier or wrap/sling of some sort so you can all go somewhere - also mentioned. Oh, and the freezer meals!!

These few things were mentioned several times and in my home they went a long way to helping!

Love you,

Rebecca said...

Hi Carrie,
When S was born L all of the sudden became very disobedient. He began showing a side that we very seldom, if ever, saw. I began to think that I needed to figure out ways to discipline and correct this behavior and asked an older, Godly woman for her advice. She stated that his disobedience was just an immature way of responding to this change. And, as a result, he needed more love and gentleness rather than discipline.

If you can remember that Nathan is two and lower your expectations with lots of grace, it will be easier on all involved when/if his attitude changes.

On a more practical note, keeping in mind to schedule good, quality one on one time with Nathan. I think it's a sweet reminder of what it was like before baby - and it's very refreshing. :)

Love you and am praying for you!

Michelle said...

My boys are now 11 and it was a while ago that I was living your life. But it seems like last week! I have to say that Angela's advice is amazing...I wish I'd talked to her before I brought my second baby home! I love the idea to get the older child settled in before sitting down to feed the baby. I can't tell you how many times I cried, feeling strapped to the couch with a newborn hanging off my breast...and my 2 year old is either hungry or thirsty and I've got to put him on the back burner. I hated that! I always felt so bad. Her advice is perfect...get him all settled first...and near to will alleviate so much stress.

Someone also mentioned stockpiling meals. YES. Great idea. Also too...pack your hospital bag early. I went into pre-term labor and was not even CLOSE to being ready. I had no clean clothes to take to the clean clothes for my family while I was gone (5 days becuase the baby had minor complications). Give your home a good, thorough cleaning about a month before your due date...that way if you do have her early you're ahead of the game! Just in case! Babies and labor can be so unpredictable!

The main thing...go easy on yourself. Accept help. Rest. The laundry will still be there AFTER a quick nap.

You're going to do great!

Katie said...

Hey Carrie! I haven't been on the computer a whole lot lately but wanted to respond to this...

First of all ~ I'm so excited for you!! I remember the anticipation of those last weeks so vividly...a mix of emotions as the final day arrives! :-) I'm praying for a healthy baby and easy delivery!!

Also, I really didn't know what to expect in terms of how much things would change when baby #2 came along. And like others have said, I'm still figuring it out, but I'll just share a couple of things.

There is a 4 year gap between our children, so my 4 y.o. was able to help out quite a bit and never had the 'jealousy' syndrome that you hear about. I was prepared and watching for him to get a little bit jealous or hungry for attention as all the focus of our home used to be just on him and now he had to share mom and dad's attention with the little one. But, we never went through that, maybe because we were prepared for it and tried to pay lots of attention to him too. As a suggestion, maybe try to have lots of fun hands-on activities readily available that are easy to pull out for Nathan to do when you are busy with the baby. Also, I remember reading somewhere that suggested to have "Nathan and Mommy time" ~ a special time each day set aside for just the two of you....something you both would look forward to each day (doesn't have to be terribly long). I remember using this idea with my son during one of his little sister's daily naps, and it was a blessing to the both of us. I didn't read all of the other comments yet, so maybe they already touched on these things, but I remember that helped me.

Also, don't try to do too much and accept any help/meals that come your way! I remember falling prey to being hard on myself in those first few weeks. I think it was a bit of the baby blues as I was feeling a little overwhelmed somedays when everything was falling into place (like I thought it should have). I found when I was worried about something, I would try to pray for someone else's needs in those moments to direct attention off of my own issues. It's also helpful to have some Bible verses posted in places you visit often throughout the day to remind you not to worry, that God won't give us more than we can handle, and that He is the source of our strength.

I am still such a rookie at this! I feel I'm learning new strategies everyday on how to become a more godly mother!

Many blessings as you prepare for your newest addition!!

Jamie said...

LOVE all these comments! :-) Good post Carrie!

Mom said...

You've gotten lots of good suggestions here, so I'll just add that stockpiling meals in the freezer is something I was planning to do for you while I'm there! Love, Mom

Jenny said...

When we brought baby home we had a special something from the baby to the new big brother and sisters.

I know that your going to know what to do when the time comes. Your already a great mother.

Kendra said...

And Addison can't wait to meet her little cousin!! We're so excited for you guys!!

Jena said...

I have 4 boys and I understand transition. I always told my older child(ren) that this was "OUR" baby (that included them). I usually did that through the whole pregnancy. When our baby arrived, I tried to include the other child(ren) in as much as I could. I also prayed through the whole pregnancy that it wouldn't be too hard on the other children (the Lord answered my prayers - we never had any 'major' adjusting to do). Good luck.