When I found out we were pregnant with our second, I wasn’t really worried about the newborn stage. Kennadi was quite a handful during the first month of the newborn phase and somehow, we got through it. I had faith that we would survive the newborn days and was more stressed about how in the world I was going to balance two kids under the age of two.
I would be completely lying if I said transitioning from 1 to 2 kids is easy; it isn’t. But, like motherhood in general, it is completely worth it. I always say that motherhood is the most humbling thing I’ve ever done. I am truly humbled every single day.
So, I wanted to just be completely honest and vulnerable and breakdown the top five challenges I experienced when we had our newborn with a 21-month-old at home. Don’t worry though, hopefully some of these things can help you feel prepared. And remember, no matter what, you will get through it!
Ah, the schedules. Look, I am a diehard Type A personality. I thrive off having a schedule and checking the boxes. So, as you can imagine, or if you are like me, it’s really hard navigating those first two months when there’s no such thing as a “schedule.”
I’m pretty sure I complained to my husband every single night at the end of the day, saying how I didn’t get anything done that day. He would remind me that I spent hours feeding a newborn, rocking him to sleep and entertaining our toddler. And he was right but it was hard for me to accept that I couldn’t get anything else done except for the “basics.”
I tried to soak up all the newborn cuddles and contact naps but at the same time, I was counting down the days until he was finally on a schedule. For me, I need the predictability and consistency. Once we figured out his schedule at around 2 months old, the days got a lot easier.
The other hard thing about schedules is figuring out when in the world to run errands and do things between two different nap and feeding schedules. I think your second baby automatically just becomes more adaptable. For us a lot of naps and feedings end up being in the car seat or stroller when out and about.
In case anyone is curious, this is a rough outline of what our current schedule looks like (Kennadi just turned 2 and Troy is almost 5 months old):
7:30 am Kennadi wakes up
7:45 am Troy wakes up
8:00 am Morning couch/TV time while Troy takes his bottle
8:30 am Breakfast
9:45 am Troy’s first nap
10:30 am Troy bottle time
11:45 am Lunch
12:15 pm Kennadi nap time
12:30 Troy’s second nap
1:15 pm Troy bottle time
2:45 pm Troy’s third nap
2:45 pm Kennadi usually waking up
3:45 pm Troy bottle time
5:00 pm Start dinner
5:30 pm Troy last nap
5:30 pm Dinner
6:00 pm Troy bottle time
6:30 pm Kennadi bath and bedtime routine
7:00 pm Kennadi bed
7:15 pm Troy bath and bedtime routine
7:45 pm Troy last bottle and bed
So, ya, no wonder sometimes I feel like I can hardly get things done!
We have all heard that lovely phrase “sleep when the baby sleeps” … well that’s pretty impossible as it is but let me tell you, it’s actually impossible if you have more than one baby.
Maybe this is an option when it’s your first baby but when it’s not, you don’t get the option of sleeping when the baby sleeps. Once Troy would finally nap, I still had a toddler to chase and run around after.
And on those days after the sleepless nights, it was really exhausting still having to focus on a toddler. I hate to say that Kennadi probably got the most screen time she’s ever had during the first two months of Troy’s life. We were just trying to get by and were exhausted.
My husband and I definitely took turns napping during the first few weeks but once he went back to work, it was a lot of just hoping that Troy would nap for some amount of time during Kennadi’s nap so I could take a quick nap too. Just remind yourself that the lack of sleep is temporary! And coffee is your BFF 😉
A toddler alone takes up so much of your attention and I knew I would have to figure out how to spread it amongst my toddler and newborn.
What I learned is, breast-feeding with a toddler is seriously no joke. Breast feeding a newborn takes up so many hours of the day and it makes it hard to focus on your toddler during the feedings.
I remember truly getting upset when Troy would start crying and he was ready to eat again when it felt like I had just fed him. And that just meant I was glued to the couch and I couldn’t play and give Kennadi my attention.
Luckily, my husband is already her best friend and he could play with her while I focused on Troy. But, I would feel guilty that I had to spend so much time feeding Troy. I had to remind myself that I had to meet his needs and unfortunately, sometimes that meant Kennadi’s needs got pushed a little bit to the side.
Being a mom of two is all about prioritizing and in those moments, Troy getting fed was the priority and playing with her doing an activity unfortunately just came second.
There are two main things that started helping me with being able to prioritize both of their needs. I started finding activities that I could do with Kennadi while I was feeding Troy.
Sometimes it was a simple as just passing a ball back-and-forth or letting her put stickers all over me. Some other easy activities were doing a puzzle, coloring, or reading a book. She was pretty good at independent play, but I still started offering her things we could do together while I was feeding her baby brother.
The second thing that I really started focusing on (once Troy was on a schedule) was spending one on one time with her while he napped. I am so guilty of trying to shove in chores and things on my to do list during nap time. But I realized this was a perfect opportunity to have some one on one time with my toddler. And, she absolutely loves it.
Right now, at 5 months old, one of his naps overlaps with her nap but the rest of the naps that he takes leaves one on one time for her. I am not always perfect at this, but I try to set my phone down and either let her choose something for us to do together or focusing on a learning/educational activity while he’s sleeping.
4. Learning to Prioritize
Very similar to the attention piece is learning to prioritize. I think it’s just instinct when you bring a newborn home from the hospital is to assume that they are always the priority and need you first.
There were many times when both Troy was crying and Kennadi was whining at the same time. I just assumed that Troy was more urgent to get to first and would always focus on him.
But looking back, there were many moments where he didn’t need to be the priority and when I made him constantly be, I think Kennadi acted out a little more.
Something I really had to accept, was allowing our newborn to cry a little. I didn’t have to go through that with Kennadi because it was just her, and she had my full attention. But with my husband being a firefighter, there were many nights I was on my own with both kids and once 5pm hit, it was chaos.
There were many nights that Troy screamed the entire time I was giving Kennadi a bath and putting her down for bed. But he was fed, he had a clean diaper, and there was nothing necessarily wrong with him. He wanted to be held and have my attention but I couldn’t do that while doing bedtime routine with Kennadi. And honestly, it wasn’t fair to her if I focused on him during her bedtime routine.
One thing that did help me a lot was wearing Troy. I didn’t baby wear Kennadi nearly as much because I was able to always have both hands on her. But there were so many times that Troy was needy and wanted to be held but I was trying to cook or clean and do something for Kennadi so baby wearing became my best friend.
5. Self Care
And last but certainly not least, is self-care. I feel like I was pretty good at prioritizing and balancing my own self-care after I had Kennadi. But looking back on the first few weeks with Troy, I feel like my self-care was close to non-existent.
I mean, who really has time with a newborn and a toddler right? But, as Moms, we have to make time. A happy mom makes happy kids (and same with Dads and their self-care, too!)
My self-care really didn’t come in until Troy was more on a schedule. But even during those early days, one thing I always made sure of was to shower and get dressed every single day. Even if it was with a screaming baby right outside of the shower, I made sure to put myself first for 5-10 minutes and feel fresh for the day.
Like I mentioned, it became a lot easier for me to prioritize self-care once I had both of them on a pretty decent schedule. I was able to get back to working out almost every day, making better food choices for us, and even being able to listen to a podcast to read here and there.
My advice is to remind yourself that self-care isn’t selfish and it actually makes you a better Mom. It can be something that takes five minutes a day or something that takes an hour every day. But find something that makes you feel like you aren’t “just” a mom.
So, there were my five hardest challenges in transitioning from 1 to 2 kids. If you’ve transitioned from one to two already, I’d love to hear what the easiest and hardest parts were for you.
And if you’re currently pregnant with your second or thinking of having a second. just remind yourself, settling in with two takes time. Give yourself grace when you are trying to figure out your new normal. And something to have on repeat in your head “it does get easier.”