Top Tips For The Second-Time Around Mom

Congratulations! Now that you’ve mastered your first child, another new baby is on the way. If you’re expecting your second (or third, fourth…) baby, you might be in for some surprises. And this next baby might be exactly like your first, or entirely his or her own. Either way, things will change for you and your family, and it’s just as important to be prepared now as it was the first time around. With another baby, there are new questions and challenges, but it’s not all unfamiliar. There’s no reason for you to reinvent the wheel, and much of the same advice for your first carries on to your subsequent babies. But there are some tips specifically to prepare you and your family for the new arrival.

Make “Let it Go” your new mantra. With another child on the way, feel free to lower your expectations a little. Clean house, folded laundry, adorable matching outfits and uber-healthy homemade snacks are probably not in the cards while you’re settling in with your expanded family. It will even out eventually (and probably sooner than you think!) but for the first several months, don’t stress out about doing everything - or anything - perfectly. Decide where it’s most crucial you spend your time, whether it’s packing healthy lunches or reading extra stories at bedtime, and prioritize those things. Don’t worry, the vacuum cleaner will still be there next month.

Optimize what you can. The reality is that you have a new little person to care for, but you didn’t grow another set of hands or an extra 6 hours to the day. This is the time to learn little tricks to help you get everything done at home and work efficiently and effectively. One great second-time around hack is to carry the new baby in a wrap or other carrier. Whether you’re around the house or out and about on errands, this will help you get chores done or play with your older child while keeping the baby close and cozy.

Be realistic about baby gear. Think back to your oldest child’s infant days. What were the most useful, the most indispensable items that got you through the day-to-day? If you still have them stored in the garage, dust them off and get them ready for the new baby. If not, get them again. The gear that made your first baby a happy camper will likely do the trick for the second or third. Be aware, though, that every baby is different. That baby swing your first practically lived in might terrify your next child. Don’t be afraid to let go of items if they’re not working. And definitely don’t feel pressure to pick up the gear that you barely used the first time around.  

Adopt a flexible schedule. Remember how long it took to get out of the house with a newborn? Spit-ups, diaper changes, and other curveballs can end up monopolizing an entire morning. Now, that’s multiplied by two (or three). You may need to cancel or change plans at the last minute, and that’s okay. If those derailments mean that your older child misses something fun, like a party or a playdate, do your best to reschedule soon so he or she doesn’t miss out. Whether you need to be somewhere at a certain time, or you’re simply trying to go for a walk around the block, give yourself extra time to get out the door and plan on the unexpected delays.

Involve the first child as much as possible. Give them small tasks that are easy for them to manage: bringing you a diaper when it’s time for a change, singing to the baby at naptime, restocking the pile of burp clothes by your bed. One sweet and meaningful activity you can arrange for your first child is for him or her to give the new baby a present when the siblings meet one another for the first time. It can be anything, from a blanket to a special toy to a crayon-drawn picture. You can also have a present waiting for your oldest child/children “from” the new arrival. Instant sibling bonding!

Watch your language. As hard as it may be for you to adjust to another creature in the house, your oldest child or children are experiencing their own challenges. Let the older sibling know that the entire family is going through a transition, and frame it in a positive way. Blaming the baby for things you suddenly can’t do (“don’t be loud, your sister is sleeping” or “we can’t go to the park because your brother needs to nurse) could possibly plant seeds of resentment in your older child. Change the way you discuss the day-to-day as a family without centering “don’t’s” around the new baby. Say things like “I can’t wait to go outside and be wild after your sister wakes up” or “Let’s go to the park tomorrow when it’s nicer. We can do a picnic inside right now.”

Be gentle with yourself and your kids. Just like when your older child was a newborn, every day was a learning experience for you. The same goes for your second or third baby. You’re managing another family member (who is at his/her neediest) while trying to keep on top of your other children, making sure everyone is getting their needs met. That’s a tall order, on a good day! Remind yourself that you’re learning - and creating - a new family rhythm with new norms, new traditions, and new relationships. That takes some time.

Trust what you already know about being a mom. You’ve likely honed a pretty stellar mommy-instinct with your first baby. That intuition is still there, and it’s still strong, even if it’s been awhile since you’ve had a newborn around. You have your experience to call back on, which can alleviate any fear around pregnancy, childbirth, feeding, or the dreaded diaper blowouts.