How I Am Preparing Myself and My Older Child for a Second Baby

This month, as I prepare to give birth a second time, things are different. There have been fewer surprises (and worries) during the pregnancy, and I feel more confident in my ability to take care of a newborn. The biggest challenge however is doing everything I did the first time around, while caring for a preschooler. Although, my son is fairly independent and a very loving child, he is very attached to me and likes to be the center of attention. Even though a baby sister will make him very happy, I expect the initial transition to be tough for him.

Many of my friends chose to have two children within a short amount of time–18 months to 3 years. I look up to them for ideas and inspiration on how to juggle two children, work, and adult life. Each has told me it is tough, and that I should prepare in advance, but expect most days not to go according to plan. Here are some things I am doing.

My biggest mistake the first time around was not seeking help. After caring for the baby (something every new mother learns on the job), pumping and feeding, and enduring sleepless nights, cooking and cleaning became extremely arduous. It also left little me-time and social time in the early months. Stubbornly, I maintained I could do it all, and felt miserable and alone in the process until my husband gifted me with a cleaning service. This time, I am open to ordering out more often, or calling a housekeeper weekly if the mess at home gets out of hand. And except for the harshest winter days, I will be out and about town more often.

Another thing I will try is getting my baby on a schedule. I was much more lax with my first child, who co-slept with us, fed on demand and did not sleep through the night until after he was a year old. Of course, neither did I. Although the baby will still feed around the clock in the early months, feeding on a 2-3 hour schedule initially, and 3-4 hour schedule afterwards is something I will attempt. I will also transition her from bassinet to crib, instead of bassinet to our bed to big kid bed, like I did with my son.

Last year, my son attended preschool part-time, this year I chose to enroll him in a full time option. I did this not just to get him out of the house, but because I did not want him to experience “mommy-sharing” or what might appear to him as much less attention. At four, he was also ready for more mental stimulation and social interaction, and I anticipated that I would not be able to keep up with him for an extended period of time while caring for a newborn.

As an older child myself, I am aware of the jealousy or resentment older siblings often times feel towards the younger sibling in the early months. Even though I dearly love my brother, I remember thinking of him being a nuisance and wanting to compete for my mother’s attention. My tantrums were childish to say the least. There was one time I refused to drink milk out of a glass and wanted it out of a baby bottle instead. However, with my mother’s support, I was quickly able to transition to an older sister who knew-it-all and who was always on the look-out for her kid brother. This is something I want to model in my son, and we have a name for my son’s new role “Sister Protector,” inspired by his hero Buzz Lightyear.

My son now believes he is more of a decision-maker when it comes to the new baby. He picked out a nickname for her. When we are shopping and I narrow down the choices on an item (say an outfit) for the baby, I let him choose. I also make sure he picks out a nominal gift for himself from her every time we shop for baby items. Since attention is what he will most likely be craving, I am stocking up on workbooks, board games and books that I plan on using during my special time with my son when he gets home from school.

Finally, we have been reading books on new siblings, some of which are listed below. My son’s favorite is a rather silly one, where the protagonist finds out that his baby brother can only “sleep, drink, pee, poop and cry” but thinks he will have fun with him nevertheless.

A Baby for Max, by Kathryn Lasky and Maxwell Knight Babies Don’t Eat Pizza, by Diane Danzig and Debbie Tilley Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Baby? by Barney Saltzberg Franklin’s Baby Sister, by Paulette Bourgeois Hello Baby! by Lizzy Rockwell I’m a Big Brother, by Joanna Cole and Rosalinda Knightley I’m a Big Sister, by Joanna Cole and Rosalinda Knightley Look at Me! by Rachel Fuller My New Baby (New Baby Series), by Annie Kubler On Mother’s Lap, by Ann Herbert Scott and Glo Coalson Our New Baby, by Dee Shulman The New Baby, by Fred Rogers The New Baby, by Mercer Mayer There’s Going to Be a Baby, by John Burningham We Have a Baby, by Cathryn Falwel What Shall We Do With the Boo-Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell and Ingrid Godon

In short, motherhood is always an adventure, whether it is the first time, or not. I don’t plan on succeeding in it, I just hope to be pleasantly surprised, give and get joy from the experience, and take things in their stride.

More parenting articles from the contributor:

What to Pack when Traveling with Kids

Ease Your Child’s Transition to Preschool

Traveling with a Child? Find the Closest Public Restroom

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