Having one child is easy. All the attention can be put on them without any interference. But that is up until the mother finds out she is pregnant with her second child. This is when she will start to get anxious and worry as well as start to suffer from the inevitable mom guilt. How will she have time for the firstborn when the new baby arrives? Will the firstborn get the attention they need? A large number of moms, 94% actually, admit feeling guilty, especially about how much time they spend with their children.
The transition from having one child to having two children can be tough and overwhelming for a mother. With one child, they have a unique relationship between just the two of them. Once a second child is born, the first child than becomes the ‘firstborn’ instead of the ‘only child.’ This is when the relationship starts to change. Even though the change is a good change, there is still an emotional adjustment which can be challenging for both mother and child.
While any change in life is hard, there are ways for mothers to overcome their mom guilt and reduce their anxiety over the pending arrival of a second child. Preparing both oneself and the child can and will be very beneficial for both sides and help ease the worry of what’s to come. Besides, no one likes to worry on a day to day basis, so taking simple steps before the new bundle of joy arrives is a great way to prepare.
Preparing in Advance
Make a point to talk to the older child about the new baby to come. Letting them care for a baby doll (even if they’re a boy) helps the child be prepared for their new brother or sister to be. There are also many books that are especially made for this situation which can explain what happens when the new baby arrives.
Part of this preparation includes dealing with emotions over possessions and sharing before the baby arrives. For example: if your older child is still in a crib and the new baby will need this crib, make sure to move the child out of the crib several weeks before the arrival. Make a big deal of the new big boy or big girl bed for the older child. Get them excited that they are getting something new. Preparing the older child helps to ease one’s conscious and reduce the feelings of mom guilt.
Make Coming Home with Baby Happy
Coming home from the hospital with the new baby is a big occasion. And what better way to do this than to include the ‘firstborn’ on this big day? When arriving home, see if Daddy can hold the baby so that Mommy can greet the older child. Also, when people come to visit, it’s a good idea to mention to them to greet the older child first before seeing the baby. This way, the older child does not feel left out or not important enough anymore.
It’s About Quality, not Quantity
There is a chance that during the early days with a new baby, there will be limited time spent with the older child. This is obviously not done on purpose as newborns take up a lot of a mothers time. Trying to take just a few minutes here or there to spend with the older child throughout the day can make them feel just as important and loved as the baby.
If the child is coloring at that moment, sit down and color with them. They feel special when they get these little moments with mommy. This can even be when the baby is nursing. Breastfeed next to the older child if they are on the couch watching TV. Make a point to cuddle with them during this time. These little moments will make the older child feel more positive about there being a new baby in the house.
Routine is Key
When a baby arrives, it’s natural that the daily routines will be thrown off a bit, but it is very important to work on getting back on a regular schedule. Children who have a consistent routine will be easier on both the mom and child since they know what to expect each day. Of course getting back on a schedule will be hard in the beginning, but keeping up with it daily will help it all fall back into place.
Getting routines back on track is easier if Dad comes to the rescue and helps here and there. These can be simple things like taking the child to school or helping with bath and bedtime. Daily routines are a joint effort and should be achieved so that everyday life is easier for all.
Never be Afraid to Ask for Help
Never feel guilty about needing to ask someone for their help. Asking for help can actually be very beneficial. Take on any friends or family members who offer their help. They are offering for a reason. Don’t try to be Superwoman and do it all alone because eventually, this can lead to ‘crash’ moments which could make mom guilt much worse rather than better. Asking the child for help from time to time can also be great. It will help create a bond between both the child and baby. Doing this creates a sense of family and togetherness. It also helps develop responsibility and a sense of accomplishment in the older child.
Mothers tend to focus and dwell on the things that were not done that day, but sometimes, they need to cut themselves some slack. So what if bath time was skipped or the child had cereal for dinner? They are in a safe and loving environment and that is all that matters to the child. Being a great mother doesn’t mean ‘perfection.’ Of course there are chores that need to be done. Take breaks, spend time with the kids. The chores will get done at some point. Just think positive and live life without focusing too much on the negative.
One thing mothers should remember is that they are still human and they still deserve some much needed ‘me time.’ Taking time alone for themselves can relieve some stress from mom guilt and general motherhood and make her overall happier and refreshed. In turn, she is able to care for her family better. Chose an activity enjoyed most and just do it every once in a while. Feeling sane is healthy for both mother and family.
Mom guilt is real, but these simple steps can help in limiting those feelings somewhat. Instead, you will feel happier and more positive for bringing home your second (or third or fourth) child. Also, the firstborn seeing this positivity will bring on the positive feelings for them too. Having more children doesn’t need to make a mother feel guilty. It should be a happy time. Make the most of it and don’t look back!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on safety and preparing your home for your new baby.
Sources: Get Rid of New-Mom Guilt
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