Dr. Alex Gard, PhD, LMFT
How to Make the Transition From 1 to 2 Kids Easier On Families
As a maternal mental health counselor who specializes in working with moms, I hear a lot of moms expressing anxiety over the decision to expand their families from one to two children.
Some of the common things I hear are that it can feel overwhelming to think of starting over again or being pregnant again. Maybe you had fertility challenges and the idea of going through more disappointment and loss can feel like too much. Maybe you finally made it through diapers, potty training, and sleep training, and the thought of doing it again is daunting.
Maybe this wasn’t something you planned and you find yourself wondering how you’re going to make it work. Or, you may have older kids and feel a bit unprepared for adjusting to life with a baby. No matter where you are in your parenting journey, the transition from one to two kids can feel like a big undertaking.
However, Like a lot of things, preparation and realistic expectations can really help buffer against the stress and anxiety of a major life transition, including the decision to have more kids.
There is no doubt that adding another sibling to a family influences the dynamics and group demands. Things will undoubtedly change, but is there anything we can do to make this transition a bit smoother?
After going through this myself, and counseling countless women who also navigated this transition, I can tell you that the answer is yes. Let’s talk about some ways to be proactive about making the transition from 1 to 2 a little bit easier.
Be honest that things are going to change:
Your family dynamics are going to change, and that’s okay! In a lot of ways, this change can be for the better. However, be honest with yourself that things will look different and be realistic about the adjustment. Anticipate bumps in the road, but remind yourself that you have wisdom that you didn’t have the first time around.
Have a daily affirmation or mantra:
After having my second daughter, I found myself repeating almost daily, “This is a season and it will pass”. Saying this to myself was calming, and reassuring, and gave me the confidence to navigate the hard moments and days. Knowing the words to tell yourself that is comforting, is necessary as you encounter the hard months of lack of sleep, and trying to meet the demands of two children, a household, a career, etc.
Get on the same team:
If you are doing this with a partner, now is the time to have conversations about ways you both need to be supported before, during, and after the new baby. It is also important to get on the same page on how you are going to continue supporting your older child (and/or pets) after the baby arrives.
Divide tasks now and express the expectations you have from one another. Communication is key, and talking about this as you prepare can prevent arguments from happening down the road.
Prepare the oldest:
There are different ways to ensure that your oldest child feels part of this new transition and to make this experience a bit smoother for them too. Regardless of how old your first child is, you want to make sure that they feel prepared and excited too! There are so many awesome ways to do this depending on age. Click here for an awesome guide on this subject!
Be strategic about big changes:
If you are bringing home the baby in three months or less- delay any big changes if possible! This is not the time to move your toddler to a bed, start potty training, take away paci, etc. Make sure these big changes happen as far away from the baby coming home as possible, as this is a big enough adjustment in itself.
Reflect on what worked the first time:
Ask yourself what helped the most in navigating postpartum after your first baby. Be intentional about doing this from the very beginning. If you’re not sure much did, reflect on what you wish you had the first time around: I hear a lot of women say “I wish I knew this when I was two months postpartum…”.
Some women wished they had asked for help, had outsourced tasks, had gone out more, and had voiced their needs more. Whatever you feel you didn’t express the first time, be vocal about that now. We know that women who feel supported are much less likely to struggle postpartum.
Be intentional about setting up support systems:
Two kids are no joke. Rally the troops. Lean on others for support. Be vocal about your needs, and remember that you still matter. The chaos will ensue, and it’s crazy beautiful. Also, remember to relish the good moments, they’re sprinkled in there, and they’re pretty amazing. From one imperfect mom to another, you got this!
If you need additional support along your journey into parenthood or while you’re growing as a family, I’d be happy to help. Give me a call at 954-391-5305 for your complimentary consultation to see how I can help.
I provide counseling at our beautiful offices in Fort Lauderdale and Plantation (coming soon in the summer of 2022) as well as across the state of Florida through our secure telehealth platform.