The learning curve when going from a parent of zero to a parent of one is incredibly, indescribably steep. (So steep, I never understood how new moms to twins did it so kudos by the way). The learning curve when going from a parent of one to a parent of two is also steep but more achievable, at least in my experience.
The challenges of being a mom of two are simply different than the initial challenges of motherhood. With my first son, I learned by doing; I had no prior experience with babies, with babysitting, or with kids in general. I had to learn everything by trial and error. Now, a veteran mom, I was more prepared to tackle the newborn stage again. I understand what kinds of sounds and movements may soothe a baby and I understand that there are more reasons why babies cry than just that they’re hungry or they’re tired. Still, the challenges of adjusting to life with two kiddos are many and the days are just as long. While every mom’s experience is unique, I’m sharing advice I try to keep in mind I as I adapt to this new, busier chapter of motherhood.
- Enlist and accept help. Full disclosure: I had my husband home the first seven weeks of my new son’s life. This proved to be life-changing. While my husband wasn’t home as a result of paid leave, I wish our country had the paternity benefits to allow all parents to stay home during those first, often difficult weeks. Having help is so vital. While I pushed help away with Deacon during the first few weeks (I wanted to learn by doing things myself), I embraced it with Cohen. Not only was my husband home but my parents came over multiple times and had Deacon stay the night with them on occasion. My mom even slept on our couch a handful of times to help when Cohen had the “sleep all day, party all night,” mantra. Not every mom has a so-called village but when help is offered, take it. Maybe family and loved ones don’t know you’re struggling. This is a good time in life to swallow your pride and be upfront about asking for help.
- Practice patience. Being a toddler mom I had to be very patient. Being a mom to two patience needs to be practiced even more by everyone in the family. For example, I have to be more patient with my firstborn who is readjusting to life where he is splitting time and attention with a new baby brother. Equally important, I must be more patient with myself. Maybe that means forgiving myself for forgetting to offer my toddler a snack when he needed it or letting the blue line on my newborn’s diaper get a little darker before being changed. Everyone deserves a little slack when adjusting to life with a new person in the house.
- Evaluate priorities. There is simply not enough time for everything. At least for now, when Cohen is so young, I do not have enough hours in the day to get everything done that I’d like. To make this lack of time less frustrating moms of two need to reevaluate priorities. At the end of the day, what really matters? What must you accomplish that makes the most significant impact? Let other things fall by the wayside. Come Friday when looking back at the week it doesn’t matter if you never vacuumed or cooked a lunch from scratch. Play with your children. Keep them fed and attempt to get them to sleep. When it comes to yourself, prioritize as much self-care as you can. Maybe that’s just a nap or shower every few days. Just don’t forget to prioritize you, too.
- Enjoy the moments; celebrate the wins. Being home all day with two children with many needs can be very hard. No day is without a challenge of some size. No day is perfect but there are so many moments that are beautiful and worth basking in and celebrating. When Deacon hears Cohen start to cry, and soothes him with a song or says, “be patient, Cohen, I’m coming,” my heart melts. When Cohen smiles at me, it’s the same thing. Beyond the emotional moments, which are easy to appreciate, I think it’s important to celebrate the logistical wins. When I time naps so that I get twenty minutes to watch Bachelor in Paradise (and do not judge me for how I elect to spend my incredibly limited free time, please) by myself, that should be celebrated. It makes it easier to forget that Deacon walked around for twenty minutes without underpants or shorts because I was nursing Cohen and couldn’t help him get dressed after he used the bathroom. Focus on what goes right in a day not what goes wrong.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you I have this mother of two thing all figured out. I constantly have to remind myself to relax more and worry less. How do you better manage life with two or more?