This is a guest post from my good friend and talented writer, Amanda Gregolunas, mama of two under two. As I approach the final days of my pregnancy, I’ve found myself getting more and more nervous for the days soon to come, trying to balance being Caden’s mama along with being mama to a brand new baby who will need my attention even more. This advice is so helpful, and normalizes all the experiences I’m sure I’ll encounter.
I’m a Mom of Two, Here’s Advice I’d Like to Share
Hi moms, future moms, and whoever is reading this that may not even want to be a mom. My name is Amanda Gregolunas, I’m Barbara’s good friend from college, and I’m a mama of two (well, three, if you count my furry son, Chief).
I’m here to share my story and some of my tips of having two children (and that’s two under two!) but before I dive in, let me start off by saying take my advice at your own expense. I am by no means an expert in one of the hardest jobs in the world, mommying.
So, let’s get started.
Ariana Belle is my strong-minded, sassy, and sweet (the half and half type of sweetener) daughter, who is two and a half going on 21. Maddox Cohen is my loving, oh-so-pure, smiley 9-month old son.
What to Know Before Your Second is Born (or Better Yet, Before your First One is Born and you Know you Want More!)
Get Gender Neutral Stuff!
I wish I had started this earlier on, but hey, better late than never! As Ariana started growing out of her sleep sacks, I began to buy her larger sizes in gender neutral colors (since I was pregnant with a boy). I mean, I’m not gonna lie, for a hot minute, I definitely thought about saving some dollars and wrapping Maddox up in a light pink swaddle…but, let’s just say, it didn’t feel right). The same goes for bibs, blankets, car seat covers, you name it!
Get a Baby Doll
Unfortunately, this did not work for me (in the beginning), but I know others have a lot of great success with this tactic. Head to Amazon, buy a baby doll, introduce said doll (let’s call her Sally) to your child, and start your adventure of teaching your daughter or son mommying 101. You can even get a doll that comes with all the fun accessories and equipment (diapers, pacis, a bottle, a little crib to rock it in, clothes, blanket..).,
Start nurturing and taking care of “Sally”, like you would do with an actual baby, and hand Sally on over to your child to get to work! Not only is this good practice, but it might prepare your firstborn a little better for the whirlwind of craziness baby(ness) coming their way. When I got Ariana a doll, she immediately threw a tantrum, and she proceeded to violently throw the doll onto the floor as well as the crib.
I guess she just wasn’t quite ready to be a mom.
With that said, after Maddox arrived, my husband and I noticed a really cool change. Ariana immediately started to gravitate towards her doll. She started mimicking what we were doing with Maddy with her doll. She would rock “sally,” give her a paci, gently hold her, etc. She became nurturing and loving. Not only did this give Ariana purpose, but it kept her busy and she felt included in the whole mommying world.
Have a Gift ready to give to Child #1 for when you Arrive Home from the Hospital
Your child is going to miss you a lot and be confused as to why you are not at home cuddling him or her and giving them endless kisses and affection. And when you do come home, he or she is going to FREAK OUT (at least in my case) when they see you with another tiny human. Child #1 will be expecting all the attention and excitement of this reunion (as they should since they surely have been the center of your universe since #2 arrived) but now….there is another piece to this equation. Ariana had a full blown meltdown when she saw us walk in with Maddox. I honestly think she was terrified of him and did not know what to think of this little creature. She ran to the opposite side of the room, screamed and cried, and ultimately stood as far away as she could from this five pound, sleeping, very scary baby.
But eventually, we got her kitchen set out and gave Ariana her gift. We even said it was from baby.
After some time, Ariana calmed down and actually became very interested in Maddox. His sleepy little eyes opened, he started squirming and coo-ing, and she realized he was just like her – a living, breathing, pooping, hungry human (just a fourth of the size).
Throw Away the Old Pacis, Chew Toys, Binkies, and Bottle Nipples
Splurge and get some new ones! I didn’t think of this until I was recommended. These products have age limits and they go through a lot of wear and tear. Just not safe (so I hear!).
What to Know During the Chaos of Two
Make a Special Day Just for you and Your First Born
Let me start off by saying that I know a lot of Ariana’s temper tantrums / meltdowns are simply because she wants more attention. Jealousy is a real thing (even with the best big sisters!) and it’s a hard adjustment going from an only child to having to share with a younger sibling (sharing your parents and your toys!). I do try to spend a decent amount of one-on-one time with Ariana, but I am sad to say that I need to do better. Sometimes, it’s just so chaotic that in between work, diaper changings, meals, bath time, etc, I never can even make it out of the house. My one-on-one time consists of me pulling her into my lap and giving her extra snuggles and kisses or cuddling up next to her to a movie. So, a recommendation for both you and me, is get out of the house just you and your first born for a fun activity where you can give him or her 110 percent of your love and affection.
Give them both a bath at the same time. Maybe not when #2 is an infant, but as he or she gets a bit older and bigger, definitely put your two lovies in a tub together. Ain’t nobody got time for two baths..heck nah!
Pick Your Battles
I. just. don’t. have. the. energy. anymore!!!!! I used to try to be so stringent about everything (i.e. Ariana has to eat a well balanced meal, Ariana should not go in my kitchen pantry and take out all of my plastic bowls, Ariana cannot stay up past bedtime, Ariana will not watch this much TV)… you get the point. Being a mom of one is exhausting. And two? Don’t even get me started! So, my advice to you, is pick your battles. Sometimes, it is okay to go easy on your toddler (and yourself). Sometimes, it’s okay if your toddler will only eat cookies for the day. It’s okay if he or she wants to stay up 30 minutes past bedtime. It’s okay if they don’t want to wear the outfit you picked out for daycare. It’s a huge relief when you don’t have to exert so much energy into everything and you can just say okay. Pick your battles and where you put your energy into!
Put your Toddler to Work!
Toddlers love being busy, and they also love showing off! Take advantage of this amazingness and put them to work! “Ariana, will you go get a diaper for me please?” “Oh, can you get me a wipe too please.” “Hey, can you please throw this in the trash can?” “Oh! Go give this to daddy!” You get the point. It’s a win, win. They are distracted and busy, and you’re getting some help (and able to get some stuff done)!
Give them a lot of Praise (especially when they are good with the baby)
When you tell them “good job”, over-emphasize it! When they are good with baby (i.e. holding them gently, giving them a toy, giving them a kiss, etc) reward that behavior with exaggerated positive affirmation.They will continue these behaviors because they connect them with your reaction.
Don’t Let Instagram Get to You
Instagram is an amazing platform, but sometimes, somehow it can make you feel kind of bad and sad. Right? Why isn’t your life as perfect as this other person’s life? Why aren’t you making all of these delicious, home-cooked, healthy meals for your children? Why aren’t you always happy? Why aren’t you buying your daughter or son the uber expensive jammies and clothes?
Let’s be real, we all know social media can be an illusion. It captures us at our best of our best moments, but it doesn’t show us at our worst. Do. not. compare yourself to another mom or influencer or whoever is on Instagram posting. This person may seem like she has it going on and has the perfect life, with the perfect children, the perfect husband, and the perfect mommying skills, but that is just not reality (in most cases at least). We all face hardship, stress, and lows and highs. We are only human! So, don’t compare. Every person and every family is unique. Just do you, and be the best that you can be. That is what is best for your babies.
It’s hard, it’s Really Hard. Embrace it.
And if it’s not hard for you, then I think you are a unicorn. Please give me some tips! But if it is hard, like it has been for me, then know that you are not alone. Just accept it, and be “okay” with the hardness. If there’s a time where you are crying because you feel so overwhelmed, it’s okay. If there’s a time that you tell your husband that you need to walk away and go upstairs for a little time to yourself, it’s okay. If there’s a time that you just totally lose it and yell, it’s okay. Be easy on yourself and just know what is ahead and be okay with knowing that it’s not always going to be okay.
And that’s a wrap!
I know there is so much more I could write, but let’s be real… I’m tired. Like, really tired. And it’s only 8:30pm right now. I’d like to conclude by confirming that the beauty of being a mom is worth every single stressful and hard moment. The love you experience for them is simply magical and unprecedented. And the love they have for you? You are their world. You are their everything. But even so, when it does feel really tough and like you’ve hit an all time low (as this has happened to me) lean on your support system. Don’t be scared to ask for help. Don’t strive for perfection. Don’t judge. Don’t dwell. You’re going to be great, even during all the times you think you’re not. I promise, just like the rest of us, you and your babies are going to be perfect in your own imperfect way.
Thank you so much to Amanda for the incredible advice and encouraging words!