There are some distinct differences as you prepare for baby #2, versus when you prepared for your firstborn.
When I was expecting my first son, I did all the things other moms told me to do. I got baby’s room ready. I purchased all the cute cloth diapers. I prepped a few freezer meals. And I spent evenings reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting like it was the only book on earth.
When I was expecting my second son, I was changing diapers. I was washing cloth diapers like it was my full-time job. And my daily goal was to figure out how to get a cranky baby to go to sleep and stay asleep.
The time you have before baby number one is nothing like the time you have before baby number two. You are limited in what you can accomplish, and that’s why it’s important to maximize your time and efforts.
So how can you prepare for baby #2 when you already have one in tow? Here are some things I did before baby two that helped me feel a little more prepared and a little less crazy after our second joined us.
Make Meals Ahead
A lot of people come to congratulate you when you have your first. They bring gifts – and FOOD. I remember so many people dropping off meals for us the first few weeks with baby number one. Which was amazing, because I was not doing well as a new mom, and I had no energy or capacity to be in the kitchen. This may not be your experience, but when our second came, we had almost no visitors at all. Granted, he was a Christmas baby and born during the holidays. But still! I was SO glad that I took the time to make a freezer full of meals before our second arrived.
I went on Pinterest and found the most popular freezer meal recipes, and every weekend leading up to baby’s due date, I would make 1-2 things to add to the collection. It was a little effort, but it paid off in dividends when I had a one-year-old pawing at my legs and a newborn nestled inside an ergo carrier.
Another twist? Try organizing or joining a freezer meal swap to prepare for baby #2.
Let’s say you find 10 people that want to participate. You each find one recipe – and then you make it – 10 times. You can pick a Saturday and spend it in the kitchen, or space it out and knock out a few servings on weekends as you find time. Then you pick a date to all meet, and you swap your meals. Everyone walks away with 10 different meals to fill their freezer with. These are perfect for those busy weeknights, or when you’re in a pinch and haven’t had time to get to the grocery store.
Take an Inventory of Your Baby Supplies
Now that you have one kid in tow, you’ve probably figured out there are some items you use constantly, and some you probably never even took out of the packaging. Now is the time to do a little inventory as you prepare for baby #2!
What do you need to stock up on? What can you throw out? What can you donate or try to sell at a consignment-type store?
Maybe you bought 13 different bottle brands because you weren’t sure which one your first would take a liking to. You could condense your supply and still have options to present to baby two. Maybe number one taught you that acid reflux is the real deal and as you examine your burp cloth’s, it’s obvious you could use some new ones.
This is also a good time to go through all those onesies and figure out what you want to keep and what you’re ready to get rid of. Maybe your first was a boy – your second will be a girl – and you don’t have plans to have more. Clean out those dressers and closets and BREATHE!
Prepare Baby’s Room/Space
Will the new baby have their own room? Will they share a room with their older sibling? If you plan to have baby share a room with their older sibling, you can start the process of rearranging the space to accommodate him/her.
Maybe you need to set up a changing station or find a space to bring in a rocking chair. Think of how you can move things around to make space for baby without doing a complete overhaul of the room.
Depending on the age of your other child, this may or may not be an issue. If your other child is young and the room is still a nursery – great. If they’re in Kindergarten, don’t shove all their toys and books into the closet to make room for a swing and a diaper pail. You can encourage the shared space by making sure the room still meets the needs for both kids and provides autonomy where appropriate.
Figure Out Childcare
If you plan to work outside the home after your maternity leave is up, you’re going to need a childcare solution. First things first: this can be a long and frustrating process! Many places have waiting lists, and all places have a limited number of openings.
Finding something within your budget and your zip code isn’t always easy. It can take several phone calls, applications and in-person tours before finding a place you’re comfortable with that meets all your criteria. So, don’t wait until baby’s born to start looking. Start looking now. Because going to tour a daycare facility is a lot easier with one kid than two.
Discuss Schedules & Responsibilities with Your Partner
Who will feed baby? Who will feed your toddler? Who will wash clothes? Who is going to run to the grocery store and plan meals? Who’s going to water the garden and feed the dog? One thing you can do to help set yourself up for success and avoid some headaches is by having a logistics conversation with your partner as you prepare for baby #2.
It shouldn’t be assumed that the other person is taking care of it.
Be upfront about what you can and cannot handle, and work together to find a rhythm that works for you both. When baby arrives, you’ll be glad you figured out some of this ahead of time.
These are just five things you can do to prepare. If you’re a mom and have already lived through the transition from one to two, what tips and advice do you have for families that are looking to add number two?