We are inundated with information prior to the birth of our first child, but nobody seems to say much about what to expect the second time around. True, becoming a parent for the second time might not be quite as romantic, but we assure you, there’s still plenty to talk about. Below are five tips for second-time parents:
1. It’s important to keep your first-born involved.
Regardless of how old your first child is when the second is born, it is incredibly important to let them be involved in the care and safe exploration of this new person. Make their adjustment easier by asking your older child to help with diapers, reading stories and amusing your newborn. Your first-born needs to be made to feel special and appreciated, because…
2. There will be guilt.
As you tend to your newborn, you may find yourself constantly responding to your first-born with, ‘Just a minute, honey.’ You won’t be intending to put off your first child’s needs, but you only have so many hands and so much patience. Your eldest won’t be used to waiting for you, so as they get accustomed to the new normal, try to be gentle with them – but be gentle with yourself, too. Things change quickly and you’ll all feel like part of the same team in no time.
3. It will still be all about the first-born.
Once you are past the newborn stage, the focus shifts back to your elder child. Playdates, school, activities, outings – it’s the older child that you’ll be working on keeping happy and busy. The second is usually just along for the ride.
4. It won’t feel like you are twice as busy.
It will feel like you are 100 times as busy. Children have a knack for making sure you feel like you cannot get a moment’s rest. As soon as you finish taking your oldest to the bathroom, the baby will have a diaper explosion. As soon as you get the baby back down after a midnight feeding, the oldest will wake up. Getting two children ready to go out in the winter can feel like a Herculean task. It will be a while before you remember what hot coffee tastes like. Let’s not even talk about the laundry.
5. It will all be worth it.
The first time you answer the question, How many children do you have? … The first time you see your older child making the younger one laugh … The first time you return home from a solo outing with both kids and realize, I can do it … The first time you hear one child tell the other, You’re my best friend – these are the moments that eclipse the tough ones. As for that colossal pile of laundry sitting by the stairs? It can wait – the kids want to play.