Reader Question for YOU

03 April 2013

I opened my inbox the other day to find an email from a reader named Ashley with the following question:

I was wondering if you would mind sharing any advice you have on transitioning from 1 kid to 2 (or even 2 to 3 though we are not there yet!). We're a few months out from baby #2 (with an 18 month old), and I feel pretty unprepared for life with 2 (specifically how to get them not to wake each other up which is my biggest fear given that sleep and nap times are what keep me sane).

If anyone's read this blog for more than 2.1 seconds they would know that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing in the parenting department but I'm hoping that all of you seasoned parents that have a better reign on your vocation would be willing to share a bit of advice for Ashley (and um ... me). I sent her this great post by super mom Lindsay and if there are any other posts/articles you've read I'd love to read them.


I wrote this post on surviving 2 under 2 last year and if I can go mental breakdown free for a week or two maybe I'll try and pen one on sort of surviving 3 under 3 but let's not count our chickens before I get my ducklings in some semblance of a row ...

which might never ever happen.

Thanks in advance for any knowledge nuggets you can throw our way!




PS you should go wish Hallie a happy birthday and plead with her 40w5d interior baby Charlie to come out come out and join the earthly fun!

PPS if anyone is in the market for a gender reveal idea Simon came up with this one this morning: serve some brownies with or without nuts. You know you love it.



50 comments:

  1. Stealing your gender reveal idea for my sister ... now.

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  2. YAY. We're going from 1 to two in eight short weeks, so I'll be stalking this thread like shmallows on some cocoa.

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  3. died over the nuts/no nuts.

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  4. I am by no means and expert parent, or even great at it, and I know so many have differing opinions on this, but Babywise has saved our sanity with three in 2.5 years!

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  5. All I got (and even though we have 5, it's just...crazy. New people in your house are gonna make things crazy) is don't ever ever ever make the older one be quiet. New baby will learn to sleep right through the noise. And if he or she doesn't, it wasn't planning on sleeping through the silence either. Good luck! You can doooooooo iiiiiiiiiiiiiit!

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  6. I guess the biggest thing is to stop expecting much for the first few weeks/months! As long as the kids get fed a few times, diaper changes, and sleep "enough", you're good. If you need to let the house get messy and rely on frozen pizzas for dinner for awhile, don't beat yourself up over it. Your older child probably has a pretty set daily schedule at this point. Stick to it as much as is reasonable, but let yourself be okay with naps and meals getting pushed or possibly skipped altogether, depending on baby's mood, etc.

    Let everyone adjust to the new baby, and the new baby adjust to life outside the womb. I know people always say it, and moms never do it, but really do make an effort to use those rare moments when both kids are sleeping to SLEEP yourself! You might have a rough start, but soon enough, both kids will get used to sleeping through the other one's screams :-)

    Don't be afraid to ask your husband, your mom, a friend, whoever to help you out (bringing meals, throwing in some laundry, taking the older sibling out of the house for awhile).

    One last thing that I wish I had been prepared for:it takes SO MUCH LONGER to get ready and get out of the house when you have two kids. In the morning, I am responsible for getting three people (myself and the kids) entirely washed, dressed, fed, buckled in the car, etc. and it literally takes a full two hours from wake-up to out-the door *when I'm being really on task*. So try to save yourself plenty of time to get ready so you aren't adding more stress!

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  7. I'll respond....! I have 5 children, although mine are spaced a little. Two of them are 2 years and 1 month apart and two are 20 months apart. So I had a toddler/two year old and a newborn, twice. I would echo some things that Lindsay said - having a baby is chaotic in the best circumstances. So let some (a lot!) of things go. If people offer to help, ask them to come clean or do laundry for you. Or if you can't/won't do that, ask them to come sit with you and hold the baby while you clean or do laundry. Accept meals. Lots of them. You and your husband each take some time to have "alone" time with your older child. My husband would take the older one on errands, out for a walk, read stories, etc. Special time with one parent (either parent) makes the toddler not feel so shuttled aside for the baby. Remember that everything is a season - just keep telling yourself on those hard days (and you will have them - we all do!) taht this will pass. And it will! As far as sleeping goes - separate rooms is my only advice. Even if you have them in the same room, especially for nap time, put one in your room - easy with a newborn. Pack and play, on the bed, etc. Let your toddler keep their regular schedule as much as possible. Giving your first the gift of a sibling is the very best thing you have ever done!!

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  8. i have no advice here... but omg brownies with nuts?!? simon is too much, love it.

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  9. My brain isn't really functioning properly right now what with this giant baby in utero so I'll skip the advice and just say thank you for the birthday love and baby nudges! You're the sweetest!

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  10. I might have to find out the gender of our future child ahead of time just so I can use that reveal.

    And subscribing for the advice! two is killing me!

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  11. I've only got 2, so I'm no expert, but I did nanny for almost a year starting when I was 7 months pregnant with my second, so I have done the 3 under 3 thing!

    This might sound obvious, but you can only do one thing at a time. For some reason, knowing that helps me keep from feeling overwhelmed. I remember one time all three kids were screaming and I desperately had to pee. I told myself, "One thing at a time!" I ran to the bathroom, took care of one kid, took care of the next kid, then took care of the last screamer. Situation handled in under 5 minutes with zero stress. Know your limits and how much you can accomplish!

    Now that my kids are older, one-on-one time with each of them is so crucial. Otherwise I feel like I lose touch and end up yelling a lot more.

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  12. haha - I'm going to just sit back and stay quiet on this one. I am definitely the wrong person to ask ;)

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  13. Oh my gosh and I'm DOING IT the next time we get to announce a baby :)

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  14. Bahahaha! Nuts. I am in no way qualified to give advice on this subject and I'm very interested to read everyone else's nuggets of wisdom. While I do want more kids and a fun big family like the one I grew up in, I feel like I'm just getting my act together with one so the thought of more is terrifying!

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  15. hahaha! Mike made sausage for dinner in honor of our boy. Those two should just go off and be immature together.

    Also, I am coming back and reading each and every comment. I don't know what the hell I'm doing!! (Don't tell Ellen.)

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  16. No kids, no advice... Just dropping in to say I laughed aloud at the brownie thing. Simon strikes again...

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  17. 1 to 2...2 to 3...it's always the same. Things are crazy until everyone gets into the swing of it...about five or six years should do it. And if not...hey, at least you made it through no sleep, teething, and potty training.

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  18. I definitely don't feel like an expert, but mine are 18 months apart, 22 months apart, and 11 minutes apart...

    1. Get help and accept help. All of it.

    2. If you didn't wear your first baby, you better learn how to wear your 2nd!

    3. Within a week, your first baby won't even remember being an only child. They get used to siblings VERY quickly when they're spaced close together.

    4. White noise machines in all sleeping areas. Baby will sleep through everything for the first few months, and after that you'll have the white noise machine to help. You can get them on freecycle.

    5. TV is not the devil. Half an hour of Elmo + baby in the swing = the only way I ever showered with 2-under-2. My big kids are freaking geniuses, it clearly hasn't hurt either of them.

    6. Don't be afraid to leave the house! You're on your 2nd baby, this is the last time it will be easy (although I've never had 3, maybe that's easier than 4)! Baby in a carrier, big kid in a stroller/holding a hand, sippy, snacks, and a couple of diapers. Go hang out at the bookstore, the library, the playground, ANYWHERE!

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    1. Definitely the white noise machine - I forgot to add that! If you can't find an inexpensive machine, a small box fan from Target will also work. Great idea!!

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    2. I totally agree with the TV thing. That's totally how I shower, too. Oldest plopped in front of Sesame Street, baby in the bouncy with me. I have time to shower and get ready for the day without having to rush/have a toddler getting into everything.

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  19. You will be amazed at how much better you've gotten at parenting by the 2nd one. We thought our second newborn was the easiest baby in the world. Then we had our 3rd and thought, ok, no now THIS is the easiest baby in the world! I'm about to pop with our 4th and my oldest just turned 5. I think I was more scared about going from 1 to 2 than I am now going from 3 to 4 all 5 and under. The new baby will sleep through noise better than your other kids. The other nice thing is that there's lots of eye action to keep the new baby entertained that you didn't have for #1, so while you had to tote your first with you all over the house because they'd cry when you left the room you won't be doing as much of that with the 2nd.

    Honestly, the hardest part for me about bringing home #2 was that I had absolutely no patience for my poor 20 month old first "baby." She would ask me to hold her and I would flip my lid. She'd fall and cry and I'd fight back my hormonal impulse to scream "JUST GET OVER IT!" So by #3 we learned a few things we wish we would've thought to do:

    1) Build up the excitment of bringing the baby home as much as possible for your 18 month old. Have them help you prepare for the baby like it is their baby.
    2) Have the new baby bring a gift home to their older sibling. We tend to go skimpy on gift giving and spoiling around here, but I highly recommend splurging a little on this account. Get a special present from their new sibling that the older one will be excited about and maybe even provide some extra entertainment for them. Our 2nd son was 16 months when #3 came and we were really worried about his reaction to the baby since we couldn't really do much of #1. But when his new brother brought him a super cool "big brother only" train set #2 was ALL about having a new brother! And he played amazingly quietly with it for the first few hours we were home from the hospital, which was wonderful.
    3) Set aside specific one on one time with the older kids. Before #4 gets here we've already been pulling away each of the older kids for a special one on one date with Mommy. Once $4 comes we will continue to do that for the first few weeks. Nothing fancy, just getting to go to the grocery store alone with Mom and maybe stopping for an ice cream cone on the way home.
    4) Just let it all go :) We were SO uptight with #1 about clean hands, santized toys, only freshly Dreft washed fabric touching her skin and perfectly scheduled feedings. Well, let me tell you, our 2nd was sick the least out of any of the kids. He slept through the night better and faster than our first and he even potty trained himself! We've gotten a little more relaxed with each kid and we've been blown away to discover the things they figure out themselves.

    I love this blog because I can totally relate to so many of Grace's crazy hectic days!! My kids are hand fulls and I'm not mom of the year by far. But, honestly, 1 or 3... doesn't make that much difference. It's hard for different reasons! The more you have, the more they entertain each other. You might not go out in public as often, but siblings are the best gift you can ever give your kids! You'll do great!

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  20. You ask for advice, I offer a whole post worth.
    http://assortedjoys.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/im-baaaack-with-advice/

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  21. Simon's gender reveal idea killed me.

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  22. Love this sound machine! Have one for each child (under 2's) room. :)
    http://www.amazon.com/Marpac-Dohm-DS-Speed-Sound-Conditioner/dp/B000KUHFGM/ref=pd_sbs_hpc_15

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  23. Thanks Simon, consider it done. But if its a boy no one will eat the brownies because we're purists.

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  24. My only advice is to lay down and nurse the baby while the older one naps. Don't worry about the house or cooking, just get your rest! And I can say after 5 babies that the more you have, the more the baby stage just flies by!

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  25. I was so stressed about having #2 that I was having honest-to-goodness panic attacks. Maybe I got lucky, but it was so natural! Yeah, there were {and still are} those days when I didn't think I was going to make it, but overall it has been great. :)

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  26. My mother-in-law always says the one good thing about morning sickness is that it prepares you for just how low you should set your expectations once the new baby arrives!

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  27. Stay at home! and I found a play pen good to keep the older one out,so that the baby got some peace.

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  28. Love the brownie idea! Good job, Simon.

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  29. For me, one child was harder than two and two children was so much harder than three. It's just an adjustment process and learning what works for your family and what doesn't. Our fourth baby is coming soon for us, so I'm praying four babies will be easier than three! Blessings to you and your family.

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  30. I second Dwija. Don't make the older one stay quite. The baby will learn to sleep through the noise. The same goes for the baby waking the older child. We had 4 kids in exactly 4 years, and they all shared rooms, even as newborns getting up every 2 hours. The older ones will learn how to sleep through, if they even have to learn. Mine never woke up because of a crying baby. They slept as soundly as their father. :)

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  31. Three hasn't given me enough practice, but if you get some really good advice from somebody who has it all figured out, I will show it to my husband and perhaps he'll give the go-ahead for a fourth, since we will have a proven plan to follow. Clock's-a-ticking, so I'll be stalking these comments...

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  32. I know this isn't for everyone, but I agree completely with the Fisks. Babywise WORKS. Our 4 kids all slept through the night (12 hours) somewhere between 8-12 weeks, which was a top priority for me. They all napped great, and dropped their naps right when the book said they should. I fed right on time, just when the book said, and they were all very happy well adjusted kids (we have 4). Each of our kids is 2 years apart. I liked being able to manage my days by knowing when I'd need to feed, when I'd need to be home for naps, etc. It worked for me, but I'm a planner.....AND, sleep was a top priority for me. I can't say enough about the book; however, we're not all the same, and most kids grow up happy and well adjusted when they have loving parents trying to do what is right. You'll find your way. If you are a planner, who likes some order to your days, Babywise is something you should consider....and the sleep benefits are fantastic!

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    1. My sister did Babywise because she had twins and she swears by it. I got much more "scheduled" as I added kids, because we needed it. I totally agree - it's not for everyone, but it definitely works.

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  33. White noise! Get a white noise machine. What the baby hears in the womb is similiar to the loud noise of the vacuum. Starting them off, from day 1 (I even brought mine to the hospital this last time! Kept out all the noises of the hospital and we all slept!) with the white noise machine has helped my children immensely.

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  34. So I am definitely no expert and we skipped the whole 2 thing and went straight to 3. My twins are 2 years 3 months and 1 day younger than big sister. My biggest things have already been said. Accept help. Let things go. One-on-one time. Allow noise during nap time. Use a fan for white noise. Set expectations early for behavior from the older sibling (though they may not always stick) and be sure to call them out for the good things they do. My oldest generally starts acting up more when the only attention she has been getting lately is for bad behavior.

    And as for letting things go, it may help to make a list of everything that you think should get done. Prioritze it based on things that are totally non-negotiable down to things that can wait a few years. In the early days when you are in survival mode, just do the non-negotiables. As things get easier add more to your list.

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  35. Four words: survival mode and chocolate.

    Love the brownie idea! SOSOSO funny!

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  36. 2 of my 3 can't hear anything. That helps lol. The hearing kid is sandwiched in the middle of my two Deafies...he used (and still uses) a white noise machine to drown out other noises. $20 well spent.

    Give yourself 3 months to snuggle your newb and recover from giving birth and another 3 after that to get into your new normal-ish routine....so basically, don't expect a good groove until your new bebe is around 6 months old....That has been my experience w/ adding #2 and #3...it takes awhile to get adjusted (mostly...it's still pretty crazy around here and # 3 is 8 months old lol)

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  37. Love all this advice! We have a 6 week old and a 2 year old. There have been a lot of ups an downs but it is getting so much better everyday!

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  38. I've got five now, with the sixth on the way. Babies #1 and #2 were far-and-away the hardest - no question. After that, I finally felt like I finally knew how to do this...and really, really enjoyed the newborn time. But welcoming #2 certainly does change the mothering dynamic. I didn't know how on earth I was going to be able to split my attention like that. But it comes - don't be guilt-tripped by your sometimes mixed-emotions. I almost gave #2 to my sister several times! Just be patient with yourself, and patient with your husband and with both little ones. They will be great buddies as they get older...it's so beautiful to see that blossom. Those two of mine are 12 & 10 now, and absolutely best of friends.

    In my experience, the children don't really wake each other up after the first two or three days. The baby sleeps (or doesn't!) whatever is happening, and the toddler rapidly learns to sleep through whatever the baby is doing. We were all four in the same bedroom for #2's first year, so I know what I'm talking about. Naptimes can be hard to synchronize, though... Keeping the toddler's got-to-sleep time a bit flexible, to coordinate with the baby, is the only advice I have.

    So many people have mentioned Babywise. I am just now reading it - after raising the first five with a more "attachment parenting" or La Leche League approach - and while there are several GOOD ideas that I intend to try out with #6, I have to confess that the tone of the book is, to me, completely...repulsive. I wouldn't have touched it at all if my sister-in-law hadn't recommended it highly. So if it makes you gag, too, know that you're not alone! But I never found the other approach to produce regular, reliable sleepers, and that's what I want to improve on this time. I can't homeschool grades 8, 5, 3, 1 and pre-K *and* be woken up four times a night...you know? Just being pregnant is bad enough!

    Ultimately, though - my advice is: Be of good cheer! You are doing one of THE MOST IMPORTANT jobs in there is to do in this world! Don't discount the spiritual attack you will be under because of that, and keep praying, especially when you are discouraged. God never sends discouragement...so guess who does? Some days of motherhood feel about as much fun as a tour of duty in Rwanda; most days are tiring but pleasant work - and *all* days are worthwhile. God bless you!

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    1. Love this :) The last paragraph is very true, and very encouraging :)

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    2. I'm reading Babywise now and also hate the tone. However, I know that 14 months of interrupted sleep (our first child) wreaked havoc on my mental health and we can't repeat that with number 2. The happy mommy, happy family thing really is true!

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  39. I've only got two kids but we've also fostered numerous children all under four. At one point, we had a 4 yr old, 3.5 yr old, 19 mo old amd 7 mo old all in one bedroom. The first week was hell and it took 2 hours to get everone in bed but son, we learned who needed what and things got much easier. Same with noise/screaming from night terrors/pee accidents...everyone quickly got used to each other. My advice-do what you want then stick to it. Sleep will be a challenge at first but kids adjust well, we usually aren't patient enough as parents to let them go through the adjustment process. Also, let the baby cry and deal with the older one 1st. It's safer and you'll be able to feed baby in peace (idealy)).

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  40. I've only got two kids but we've also fostered numerous children all under four. At one point, we had a 4 yr old, 3.5 yr old, 19 mo old amd 7 mo old all in one bedroom. The first week was hell and it took 2 hours to get everone in bed but son, we learned who needed what and things got much easier. Same with noise/screaming from night terrors/pee accidents...everyone quickly got used to each other. My advice-do what you want then stick to it. Sleep will be a challenge at first but kids adjust well, we usually aren't patient enough as parents to let them go through the adjustment process. Also, let the baby cry and deal with the older one 1st. It's safer and you'll be able to feed baby in peace (idealy)).

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  41. I have a 4 year old, 3 year old, 2 year old, 1 year old and will have a newborn at the end of the month so I have a little experience of adding new kids to the mix. I wrote down my tips here...http://bandsp.blogspot.com/2013/04/7-quick-takes-life-after-newborn.html.

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  42. I had 4 under 5 1/2 and now take care of 3 of my my granddaughters all under 3 and will add a newborn in the fall. First, please have these babies when your young! Taking care of these precious souls is sooooo hard when you are 50+!

    All the comments above are great. You will figure out your own rhythm. Use all the help available. If you have no one to bring meals, start cooking and freezing now! Hopefully you have a one level house. Going up and down those stairs is painful in more ways than one!

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  43. i have 3 (3 and under) and we will have 4 (4 and under) in October.

    My advice is....

    anytime you feel stressed chug a big glass of water and take a really deep breath.

    also, wine is crucial. (only when you aren't pregs and only when it doesn't interfere with your milk of course).

    :)

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