A Few Things That Helped When Going From One To Two
For me, going from one to two kids was much more challenging than from zero to one. While I had more confidence in dealing with a newborn the second time around, I felt a lot of stress and anxiety about the shift in the family dynamic, specifically how Costa was going to deal with such a significant change. As my pregnancy progressed, I was consumed with emotions and questions about the next phase. How were we going to adjust to such a significant change? How could I love another child as much as I loved my first one? How would Costa adjust to having a sibling and not being the center of our world anymore? How would I manage a newborn while also giving Costa the support and attention needed to adjust to having a new baby in the house? And the list goes on and on. Like so many things we spend hours mulling over, I am happy to report that it all worked out, and our boys couldn’t love each other more. With that being said, I did implement a few things during those early weeks that helped Costa, who was three and a half years old at the time, deal with such a big change in his life. Here are the ones that made the most difference:
1) Alone time with your toddler or older child
I cannot stress this one enough. And, by alone time, ideally, it’s totally alone, not just you giving the older child attention while you are also holding the baby. Maybe it’s during the newborn’s nap time or while someone else can entertain the baby, but it really is the most impactful when the older child is getting the parent’s full attention. Bathtime, reading a bedtime story together, playing a game of their choice, or going for a walk around the block are all simple ways to get that one-on-one time in. I found that if I gave Costa 15-20 minutes of my undivided attention in a day, he was happier and had fewer tantrums and emotional breakdowns in those early months with Paolo.
2) Talking to them about their feelings
When Costa did have a tantrum or seemed frustrated with Paolo, I would wait until his tantrum or lousy mood had passed, and then I would talk to him about what he had been feeling. I would bring it up in casual conversation while we were having our alone time and acknowledge that I understood how he could feel that way. Once I had opened the door to a discussion calmly, he would often talk about why he felt that way and work through some of those thoughts and emotions. We always both felt a lot better after those talks.
3) Calling the new baby by its name rather than just “the baby.”
For years, we had been calling Costa our baby, and now there was an imposter in the house trying to steal all of mommy and daddy’s attention! We were very mindful of calling Paolo by his name so that Costa didn’t feel like he was getting replaced by the new baby. I would also remind Costa that now mommy had two babies, and no matter how old either one of them gets, they will both always be my babies.
And, just remember, it’s a transition for everyone in the family at a time when so many in the family are already emotionally and physically depleted, so try not to be too hard on yourself. Each day is a new day to do things a little differently, and some days are always going to be better than others. x