When One Child Becomes Two

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Going from one child to two is challenging in all regards, but especially in regard to child care. Caring for one baby seemed like an immense amount of work, but as your child became a toddler and then a preschooler, the care eased and you were able to enjoy your child more without as much work. Now, suddenly you’re thrown back into the hard work of a newborn. But this time you are also still dealing with your older child who suddenly seems to need more attention than he did a month ago.

The First Few Weeks

The first few weeks of parenting two is a crash course in survival. No matter how prepared you thought you were, bringing home a new baby is much more than twice the work – especially as you are recovering from the delivery. These first few weeks are an excellent time to invite your mother to come and stay or have your husband take paternity leave. An extra set of hands is invaluable at this time.

It is likely that unless you are nursing or your oldest is napping, the bulk of your attention will not be on the new baby. Instead, your older child who is attempting to adjust to becoming an older sibling will need extra love, patience and guidance. The baby will just need a pair of loving arms which can just as easily be provided by your mother or husband.

Establish a Routine

As soon as you can, establish a new routine that is as close to your older child’s normal routine as possible. Simply add the baby where you can. Pop in the afternoon video when you’re nursing or putting the baby down for a nap. Then, while the baby is sleeping take your older child into the backyard for a time outside. When the baby wakes up, let your older child play inside while you change diapers and feed baby again. Then when baby goes back down for a nap, pull out a craft or do a special project with your older child.

It can be challenging to keep up with the needs of two children, but a routine will help everyone adjust faster and keep the day on track. If you start the morning off with cartoons and cereal for your oldest, sit your baby down for his cereal at the same time. As your baby begins eating solid foods, feed him with the rest of the family, even if you have to eat your own meal later.

At bath time, bathe both children at the same time using a baby seat or by placing the little tub inside the big one. This gives you a break when it comes to time spent batching children, plus it establishes a good routine for years to come. Read a story together before putting the children down to bed.

You might work at creating a schedule for your family, but you may find that you settle into a routine just as easily without consciously thinking about it.

Avoid Schedules

When you have two children to care for, you may be tempted to set up a schedule based on everyone’s feeding and naptimes. While schedules might work for a few families, most will soon discover that trying to force the family into a preset time limit will only add to your stress level.

Instead of a full schedule, set a few time guidelines to keep the day on track, but leave enough flexibility that you don’t feel frantic and stressed if you get off the schedule at breakfast and stay off it all day. Set a time for breakfast that seems to work most days. Feed both children around this time. If this time doesn’t work on a particular day, don’t worry about it. Feed both of the children when one gets hungry and move on.

Your baby’s naptimes will be set by his internal schedule. He will most likely be ready for naps at a particular time, so let him sleep when he’s ready. Let lunch fall when it will around the same time each day. The afternoon is likely looser than the morning with longer stretches of play time and various naps. But start dinner around the same time every night.

Then, follow dinner with the same set of activities each night including bath, books and bed. While your day might feel too structured, especially for free spirits, the few times you deviate from your routine will convince you that having too much structure to your day is far better than not enough.

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