Adding another new baby to your family? Pick up a few tips on how to make the transition easier from new Life as MOM contributor Deanna.
All photos: Deanna
Adding a new baby to your family is a bit like adding a ball of fire to your juggling routine. The norm is thrown off balance, management of the unknown ball of fire becomes a big priority, and you find yourself living in chaos as you try to not drop all the balls at once into a fiery heap. Eventually the fire fades, the balls equal out, and a new normal takes over.
Having done this adding game three times in the past four years, I find that even though the initial addition is always difficult to juggle no matter how many times I’ve done it before, the new normal resumes more quickly each time. For that I am thankful.
I’ve also learned a few tips that pro jugglers (aka seasoned mamas who have been at this game longer than I have been) taught me along the way. These tips are helping me even now- just three months out on baby #3. These might not all work for you- but if just even one of these tips helps you not get burned during that initial juggling desperation- it is worth sharing.
1. Quiet time
I just had my 3rd baby- in a little under 4 years. The only way I survived the transitions was to institute mandatory quiet time for the tots, 2-3 hours a day. They must stay in their rooms. They can read, play with toys, talk to themselves, or sleep (yes, mostly they sleep).
I don’t care how they choose to spend that time, but they cannot leave their (child-proofed) rooms until I say quiet time is over. This meant I could always take at least a short nap during the end of the pregnancy. This meant when the baby was born that I had 2-3 hours with just the baby every day. This meant it was relatively easy to get the baby napping during that 2-3 hours eventually too and the new normal resumes that much faster.
2. Making freezer meals
I love dedicating entire days to freezer cooking. But honestly what helped me the most preparing for a new baby was not freezing 30 meals at once. I didn’t have the energy, and I didn’t have the luxury of putting aside that much time toddler-free to work in the kitchen. What I ended up doing during my second and third pregnancies was making doubles or triples of that night’s dinner.
Freezing the extra, I quickly built up a nice freezer stash without having to dedicate a whole day to this. I would do this 2-3 times a week starting around week 34, and by the time the baby came I had a full freezer. This included every time I made muffins, applesauce, or cookies- making just a bit extra and skimming what I could off the top and putting it directly in the freezer. Baby step instead of giant leaps. It still got me there, but I wasn’t as overwhelmed by the process.
3. Reading while nursing
The thing that I struggled with the most was- what do I do with two rambunctious toddlers while I try to figure out nursing/feeding this new person? I didn’t want them to destroy the house, and I didn’t trust them when they disappeared quietly into the back of the house while I settled down with the baby to work through different nursing issues. At first I turned to TV/movies. This worked for the first couple of difficult weeks, but soon I became concerned about how much TV they were watching and how it was adversely affecting their behavior.
I asked a dear friend who had 10 kids how in the world she worked this problem, and her answer was so simple I can’t believe I hadn’t tried it already. Nursing time is reading time. Gather the toddlers around you with their favorite books, and read and read and read while the baby eats. I didn’t think this would work with my kids who have a hard time sitting still that long- but it worked like a charm. Now when they see me settling down with the baby they come running with their books of choice.
4. Wearing a baby Carrier
With your first baby you can sit with your newborn and cuddle him all day long. The world fades away, and those moments only include you and this new person. Holding him, bonding with him, unhurried time getting to know your new baby- first babies come with this luxury. The problem I ran into was with baby 2 and 3. I still wanted to hold him all day, but couldn’t ignore my other child(ren) already here.
A baby carrier became my best friend. I have used a Moby and have loved being able to continue those baby cuddles even while moving about the house putting away laundry, picking up toys, or just following the toddlers to see what sort of damage they did when they tried to fill the baby’s bathtub themselves. The carrier (of your choice) accomplishes 3 things:
- keeps the baby safe from the toddlers who might be inclined to climb on top of baby or attempt to carry him around unsupervised
- keeps the baby happy who might be inclined to scream every time you put him down
- continues the bonding process.
5. Learning to say “no”
No guilt. No pressure. Say no to good things that might become bad things if they add extra stress to an already fragile situation. You’re juggling with a ball of fire- remember? Simplify events and responsibilities outside the home as much as possible. For me this meant saying “no” to Christmas decorations and extra parties because of our Thanksgiving baby. All good things- but good things that will still be there the next year when our new normal has kicked in. We only get to enjoy this baby as a newborn once.
Nothing earth shattering here. Just basic tips from a juggling mama who still is staring rather cautiously at a smoking ball that just recently stopped burning.
Whats tips would you give to a mother transitioning to another baby?
Other Posts from Deanna:
Deanna is passionate about special needs advocacy and new motherhood- two things that go hand in hand for her right now. Three kids four and under, the oldest of which has Down syndrome- keeps her quite busy. But there’s always enough time left at the end of the day to write all about the insanity at her blog Everything and Nothing from Essex. And to laugh- always, always there is time to laugh. Technically labeled a “special” mother, Deanna really finds nothing special about herself. Truly, special needs parenting is just about taking it one day at a time- enjoying the highs, sloughing through the lows, and stumbling through the mundane while drinking too much coffee. Read all of Deanna’s posts here.