For months my husband and I had conversations about the "right time" to add to our family. My first excuse was that our little boy was still a baby and I wanted more time with him. Subsequent excuses included financial freedom, career advancement and even a clean house. Alas, the decision was made when one day, that little plus sign changed our lives once again. The truth is, I was scared to add a second child to the mix. I didn't grow up with siblings and I had no idea if my time management and organization skills could handle a second child. Couple that with experienced mothers who'd advised me that adding a second child was more than twice the work, and I was convinced that if the decision had been left up to me, we may never have added to our family. It's been one year, and I can honestly say that I've finally reached a point where the days when things go right far outnumber the days when they don't. And I'll venture to say that my two sweet children have captured my heart so completely, that I may even think about adding a third to the mix. So how did we manage to survive a year with an infant and a toddler while maintaining our sanity?
Get organized. My experienced mom friends weren't exaggerating when they said that two is more than double the amount of work. The closer the children are in age, the more difficult it will be...for a time. Getting and staying organized will help alleviate the busyness of this time. Whether it's maintaining an online calendar to keep track of schedules or simply starting a routine to pick up at the end of the night, organization decreases stress, frustration and chaos. Setting goals for the day also helps to keep us organized and productive.
Don't sweat the small stuff. It wasn't until my daughter was born that I realized how much time and energy were wasted on things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of life. A night of staying up too late, a rainy day spent indoors with the television, and a meal without veggies won't negatively affect a child's well-being. I've slowly learned those things that are worth reacting to and those that are not.
Prioritize what's important. It's amazing how time can fly or stand still from one moment to the next. When I look at my 3 1/2 year old son, I wonder how my sweet tiny baby became this spirited little boy. At the same time, those days of sleeplessness, potty training, and tantrums seem like an eternity. Because there is only one of me and a finite number of hours in the day, I've learned to focus on those things that are important in that moment. Whether it's putting aside the dishes to comfort my toddler or spending the day at the park instead of doing chores, I've learned to relinquish the guilt of failing to complete the little things that are relatively unimportant.
Seek Support. I can't count the number of tears I've shed out of fear, frustration, or discouragement. It's in those moments when I feel like a failure that I need the support of my husband, my best friends, and my mom the most. Elicit a few good friends or family members that you feel comfortable sharing, venting, and seeking support and advice from. You can also join a local mom's club.
Equip yourself with tools from the past. In some ways, the second child is easier. You know when to call the doctor and when you can treat your child at home. You've developed your discipline style and have experience with sleep and potty training. Make use of those experiences to guide your parenting, while recognizing that each child is unique and may need a varied approach.
Take a break. Parenting is a 24 hour responsibility. It's ok to admit that you're emotionally and physically exhausted. When I find my patience wearing thin or my mood becoming irritable, it's time to refuel. My husband and I work together to give each other a little extra sleep, some alone time, or a night out with friends.
Remember that it will get better. As I look back on the past year, I've seen a change...a growth and maturity in my son. He's less of a baby and more like a child and his actions are reflective of that.
By Guest Blogger Caryn from Rockin Mama