The thin blue line has confirmed it; baby number 2’s on its way. You may think it won’t be as much of an adjustment if you’ve already had one baby, there’s still plenty to learn. It may not be your first rodeo but navigating life with two children can present very different challenges than with your precious firstborn.
Suddenly, there are two little people depending on you and competing for your attention. Baby milestones such as sleeping through the night, crawling and weaning at 12 months can be extremely different when there’s a another mini person determined to be part of the action. You may quickly find that your children have very different personalities, wants and needs, and you’ll realise that adding to your family means going back to the drawing board, in more ways than one…
Include your firstborn in your pregnancy
Any pregnancy is bound to trigger a whole host of emotions, from joy to a little apprehension, not to mention the physical changes happening to your body. The difference this time round though is that your first born is living this one with you too! Small children can be remarkably perceptive and good at reading parental moods and they often sense change from the word go. This has a lot of potential to impact their mood and behaviour, so start as you mean to go on with including them in the pregnancy.
Be aware of always using inclusive language when describing the new event in your family (‘we are having a baby’ is always better than ‘mummy is having a baby’). Be open with them about any changes they raise, but reassure them of your love. Discuss your growing bump and show them scan pictures of their new sibling. Involve them by asking for their help in making preparations for the baby and asking their opinion on choices, even something as simple as ‘what colour sleepsuits would the baby like?’ if you don’t quite want to venture a discussion on names, lest you find yourself explaining why ‘T-Rex’ isn’t a suitable baby name! Sofia wanted to call Arlo ‘Pinkie Sparkles’ – that’s a strip club name right there, and not an ideal one for a boy either.
We took Sofia shopping to choose a teddy for her little brother and she was going to bring it to hospital to give to him; we said it would be the first teddy that he would ever get and be so special because it was from his big sister. In return, her little brother wanted to buy her a ‘big girls bike’. It’s important not to put too much pressure on them to grow up though, or the tactic may backfire and make them act up even more!
Preparing financially to expand your family
When it comes to your family finances, having a second child may well require a bit of reorganisation. If you’re at the stage of thinking about expanding your family, then a major priority should be paying down any unsecured debt you have, such as car loans or credit cards. This is true at any stage of life, but even more so if you’re thinking of adding to your family. After all, children are quite expensive – and if you’re planning on going back to work, there are extra childcare costs to factor in, so making sure you have enough cash becomes quite critical.
Go through the household budget and take a fresh look at what you can streamline or cut down on – unused subscription services can be cut, and utilities and insurance payments put through a comparison site to ensure that you aren’t paying more than you should do. A little extra money can go a long way towards reducing your debt and freeing up income to create a rainy day fund or help buffer additional expenses.
Stock up on equipment
It’s time to start looking through the attic for those vacuum-packed bundles of baby clothing. You are likely to already have the big things such as pram or a car seat, but you may need to get additional items such as another cot if your first child is using the previous one as a cot bed or the all important buggyboard!
It’s a good idea to take stock of what you already have and what you’ll need in advance; if you do have any gaps in your baby supplies, you most likely have a network of mama friends from your first maternity leave, and these are the ladies to turn to if some piece of equipment is missing. There are also NCT Nearly New sales or Little Pickles Markets which can be brilliant places to source barely used clothing and equipment like sterilisers, nappy bins and white noise machines for the baby.
Don’t forget to self care
Your first pregnancy tends to be a fascinating experience where you and your partner marvel over every hiccup and kick – the second, with a toddler occupying most of your energy – can be a rather different affair.
Now, if you’re suffering from sickness in the morning, you still have to get up, function and make your little one breakfast. If you’re tossing and turning at night with backache you don’t get the option of a lie-in. Second pregnancies can be tough in terms of not getting enough time to look after yourself, especially if you’re juggling working outside the home with parental responsibilities; it is totally normal to have the occasional moment where you wonder if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew!
Even though you’ll feel pushed for time, it’s incredibly important that you find a way to do some self-care. Call on all the support you have available to allow you some time for yourself – be that the odd pregnancy massage, an antenatal Pilates class to clear the mind and prepare you for another delivery, or even just being able to curl up with a book and a cup of tea once in a while.
You don’t have to be superwoman. Take it easy on your body and if that means more mess at home because you’ve had a few early nights then do it without hesitation. It’s very important to be aware of not pushing yourself too hard at a time when there are a lot of physical and emotional demands on you. Be kind to yourself and recognise what an amazing job you’re doing and how hard it is building a family.