**I am likely more sleep deprived than I think I am, so I apologize for anything that makes no sense...I blame the newborn who thinks the middle of the night is party time**
I recently had my third child, and as we transition into this new family structure I thought I would write about it. It is so funny to look back on when I had just one baby and how different it is for the next siblings that come into the family. It is such a different experience for any other kid that comes after that first one...aka they dont get the same attention the first gets. It is also really funny to watch how your parenting changes from each new additional child and the expectations you have of your parenting. With my first I had this idea in my mind of what type of parent I would be (I can assure you it was SO incredibly far off from the actual parent I truly am, not in a good way haha) but I had these expectations and the energy to try and upkeep those expectations. Now with my third, I am much more relaxed but not even that, I know that I dont need to put these expectations on myself and then feel like a failure when I cant measure up. Basically I have very low expectations of myself and my days, so I am just happy when we all get through it without everything completely falling apart. Below are some insights I have had over the past couple weeks as we have welcomed our first baby boy into our family.
Before we had our son, my oldest (almost 5) was SO excited and my youngest at the time (just turned 3) was leery. She is a momma's girl and we were very prepared for the adjustment to be tough on her. When their baby brother was born, we got a surprise that they switched from our expectations. My now middle child is completely in love with her brother, and for the first weeks has shown little affect to this new addition to our family. Not so expectedly our oldest had some serious behaviour issue's that started once her new brother came home (and she's already a challenging child so this was not so much fun for us) Now that he has been here for a couple weeks (2 to be exact) my oldest is starting to settle into our new family life, and my middle is now starting to show signs that its
affecting her a bit more than I originally thought. Although thankfully she is still very much in love with her brother, she has had a bit of a delay in her showing us this change has affected her. Some days both girls seem like they are transitioning well, andsome days they take some steps backwards and struggle again. Once I accepted that this is okay, I am starting to work with it rather than fight against it and its making life a bit easier by doing that. Dont forget that dad's need to adjust too. I think we focus so much on the moms and siblings that sometimes we forget the dads, whose life has also changed and thats not always easy! Most of the time they are still working full days and coming home to an exhausted wife who needs his help for the rest of the evening and then sometimes (depending on the husband) doesnt get a full sleep because there is a newborn in the house. (I dont think thats the case in our house, as my husband is snoring away when I am up at night but he likes to think his nights have been affected haha)
The first weeks are survival, not just for you but for everyone
I always give new moms this advice, that the first 2 weeks are free game; no rules, schedules, expectations....just get through it. For some reason I have forgotten this with my third because I a) have other kids that have schedules and routine and b) because the third time around doesnt get the luxury of having all my attention like the first. I have had to continuously stop myself and remind myself that I am still in this phase and to relax a bit more and also drop the expectations I have of what any of us 'should' be doing. Also I have had to remind myself that everyone else in the family is in survival mode and that I need to remember that when I expect the same normal behaviour and attitudes from them.
Pick your battles
When adding another baby to a family, you need to pick your battle with the older siblings because you are generally running on fumes for those first months. Our oldest is in school but the middle one has gone from full time daycare to full time at home with me and if I dont pick my battles with her I may fall apart. The other day she wanted to wear pajama's out and I let her (another gasp I know) but seriously I didnt have the energy, time or care to fight her on this. Was wearing them going to hurt anyone? no. so she wore them and I avoided a battle I didnt need to have.
I have also found the secret to parenting: goldfish. See my oldest is allergic to dairy so we never got into goldfish, but my middle isnt. Somehow she got a bag of goldfish yesterday morning and we had some errands to run. She literally ate this bag of goldfish over the day (there were meals in between dont worry) and no matter where we went, as long as she had her bag of goldfish, she behaved and didnt have any meltdowns as we did our errands. So basically I am investing in the goldfish stock and going to costco to get some more.
Sometimes they will have to cry
While making my 3 year old her lunch today I had to put the baby down (gasp I know how dare I?) He was hungry and not having it but in reality I was going to be much faster putting him down to get her lunch than trying to do it with him in my arms. So he cried and it was okay. Thankfully his sister's new life goal is to give him his soother (whether he is crying or not, or even awake or asleep) and I got the lunch made and fed him and all was well with his little world. The reality is because I have 2 other kids and a husband to also help with life, there are going to be times I cant cater to all his needs in a timely manner and in most cases that is okay! The sky will not fall if I have to wait a few minutes to feed or change him because I am attending to another tiny human in the house.
Your rules about your older kids can change for a bit and its okay
My 3 year old is watching much more TV than normal, she's getting a bit more of a lenient parenting from both of us, and its OKAY. I really dont believe that for everyones happiness and survival my kid watching some extra TV for a few weeks is going to destroy her life, although netflix is getting a bit judgemental when it asks if we are still there. Life has changed, and as you transition into this change, I would advise any mother to bend the rules where you need to in order to make your life easier.
They live by our schedule, not the other way around
The luxury of the first baby is how much time you have with them. You can sleep when they sleep, you can get things done while they sleep, you can devote your whole day to spending with them...whatever you want! By the time the second, third and so on come into the family, sorry kid but you are being toted around to whatever activities your older siblings have. I remember my 2nd kid having majority of her 1st/morning naps in a carrier because I am not good at home all day with my kids, and am not willing to stay home with a toddler all morning just to get the new baby on a nap in their crib. Now that we have a third, he gets taken to after school activities on a daily basis and thats just what its going to be. Not only that but its just not the same as your first in terms of having the ability to stick to a rigid schedule. I remember for my first's naps I made sure I was home and she napped in her crib each nap. This became harder with my second, and now with my third I am not even trying. As I write this he is currently sleeping wrapped up on me and I am not too fussed about the fact that he may not have that same structure as his oldest sister. (I know hes only a few weeks so really no schedule is happening, but even as he gets older its going to be different than his sisters)
With my first baby I never asked and found it hard to accept help. People often offer but it was awkward and uncomfortable to actually take them up on it. Once there are more kids, that feeling goes away more and more as you become more overwhelmed and tired, and have been humbled enough to know parenting is hard and that it is OKAY to ask and accept help. A good example of this is when I had my first, people often offered to take her so I could nap. I never really took people up on it. Now with my third, people have said call me if you have had a bad night and I will take your kids so you can sleep. I haven't called in the troops yet but I can confidently say that when I get to that point, I will have no issue or hesitation to cash in that offer because I know a) I need it b)people are happy to help and c) its so important to take care of yourself so that you can take care of those tiny humans.
Your Heart and Capacity to love grows even bigger
It is so hard to understand how you can love multiple people so completely and fully. When pregnant with my second I was worried because I couldnt imagine having more love in my heart because it was all being taken up by first child. But its amazing, how your heart almost grows to have more space to fall in love with this new baby. Now that we have a third and is likely my last (unless my husband gets amnesia and forgets he has adamantly told me we are DONE) my perspective is to savour and treasure every single moment of these newborn days because I have seen how quickly it goes. I have also learned so much since my first baby, so I am more comfortable but also I struggled after my other babies were born so I am being much more proactive this time around instead of letting it creep up on me.
Each new baby brings a new dynamic to the family, we are loving this new little boy in our family and for the most part are adjusting to our new family life, schedules and routines that come with this change. I will leave you with the cutest picture ever that every reader will be convinced to add another baby to their family 😉