Hello and welcome back to my blog, this month’s topic is about motherhood. In this blog, I will share my journey with transitioning to having two under two children so far. What I did to prepare myself and my eldest Sunny, ( 22 Month old ) for the arrival of her baby brother and how I adapted to caring for two. I am only 8 weeks into my learning-as-I-go journey of two and this is what I have done which seems to have helped and been helpful for us so far.
What I did to prepare Sunny my 22M old toddler for baby
From the moment my bump was obvious and we were in the ‘safe zone’ ( past 12 weeks) I started talking to my toddler about mummy's tummy. That mummy's tummy was growing her a life long best friend, for us; a baby brother. I tried to explain and reinforce it often throughout the pregnancy, that the baby was growing, then the baby was almost ready, and the baby will be here soon. Hoping our talks and re-enforcement would educate, remind and prepare her for the arrival and eliminate any shock or surprise.
I included Sunny in everything baby related, setting up the nursery, shopping, washing, organizing baby clothing and letting her choose a gift to give. Whilst we spent lots of time and energy doing things for her baby brother, I also made sure we gave time and energy for her too. We got Sunny some new outfits, refolded her drawers, re-arranged her toy shelf and bedroom. To try and show and help her understand that her baby brother ‘will have space in our home and hearts, just like it does for you’.
At one of our later scans we took Sunny into the ultrasound, so she could see and hear the baby's heartbeat with us. We did this hoping it would help her understand we weren't playing a game. That, baby was ‘real’ and ‘really’ in my tummy. * I only recommend this if you have your partner or a support person with you. It can be hard to juggle a toddler in an ultrasound, or if they get upset they can be taken outside.
Preparing Sunny for the ‘big sister role’ we found a fantastic book at kmart ‘You’re a BIG sister’ which explains about babies and being a big sister. We read this almost daily before nap time and had chats about it often. We also practiced ‘gentle play’, although I think we could have done this more. We are still practicing, reminding and working on our gentle play today.
Once our baby was here and we arrived home to Sunny, we had a gift for her, her very own baby doll. She was thrilled and now cares for her baby while I care for Stormy, her baby brother. We feed together, nappy change, dress, swaddle, cuddle and lay down to sleep. I find this helps keep her feeling included and entertained whilst I care for baby Stormy. If she doesn't feel like playing with her doll ‘Chippie’ and wants attention when I'm busy, I include Sunny with Stormy’s care where I can. Some safe things she will help with; passing me wipes, nappies, help me burp, cuddle, sing lullabies and choose outfits.
Of course, there was still some adjustment to the concept of sharing mummy, especially at feeding times. However, as a result of all the preparation, explanations and role playing, Sunny was better prepared and ready to meet her brother Stormy. While amazed and a little puzzled, she wasn't shocked or upset, and she was gleaming with excitement. The love she has for her baby brother pours out of her kind, caring, beautiful soul everyday. She is the best, most helpful big sister. Stormy and Mummy are so very lucky.
Prepare Yourself and your house
Preparing yourself and your household before your baby arrives so your space and energy is ready is essential. I had full “nesting mode” switched on and did a massive ‘spring clean and food prep’. To ensure the house was as clean and tidy as it could be for its newest arrival and my freezer full of nourishing warming meals to go for the family. The ready to go, frozen meals have been a great help and time saver while we have been adapting to our new routine. Whenever I get the chance, I will still continue to cook in big batches to freeze for the days I feel time poor, sleep-deprived or run off my feet.
Then on the opposite side of the scale, rested when I could in the final weeks. I slowed down on outings and catch ups, so my body was well rested and ready. Once Stormy was here, if both babies napped at the same time, I napped too. It is necessary to clock in as much rest as you can, when you can, so your body can recover from birth and you’re a little more ready for the inevitable sleepless nights and tougher days.
Let yourself naturally find a new routine that works with both of your babies. I put no pressure or stress on myself to have a ‘perfect’ routine. So far this has worked for me and our routine has just naturally evolved and now pretty much fallen into place. Stormy has now slid into our daily routine while adding loads of extra love and cuddles for everyone.
Be kind to yourself! The transition can be hard at times for you and your family, and that’s normal. If you're struggling to balance and even out your love, time and energy for everyone, it will get easier, as anything you practice and put effort into does. Prior to Stormys birth I knew I would love him but I feared I couldn't love anyone as much as Sunny. But the moment he was here, my heart just grew, it really did. There is love, so much love I feel like I'm overflowing.
Be patient. Your firstborn is learning to share you for the first time. They have had your undivided attention, their whole life, so not surprisingly, this can be challenging for them to accept and lead to some outbursts. I have found quality play time together when baby Stormy is asleep, and going on special little, one-on-one adventures to be very helpful for both of us.
As prepared as you and your toddler are, remember not everyday is perfect. There will be ups and downs, and more learning to do. The house will not stay tidy for long and there will be some toddler tantrums, and occasional parental melt-downs :) Know that it is okay and normal while we are all learning and growing.
I hope you have found my experience and thoughts interesting and helpful. If you have transitioned from one to two, I would love to know how you're going and any advice you have or found helpful.
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