HELP!! Need Advice on Adjusting from 1 Child to 2

Updated on September 07, 2006
A.G. asks from Brookfield, IL
24 answers

I am a mother of an almost four year old boy and a one month old girl. I am feeling extreemly overwhelmed and feel as if I am neglecting my older child's needs for my baby's. My daughter is a very demanding baby and needs to be held most of the day otherwise she is screaming inconsolibly. By the time I get her to sleep I hardly have energy left to do a load of dishes let alone play with my son. I feel just awful about this. It would be so easy to let him just veg in front of the T.V. but I know that is not right. My hisband works 12 hours a day, and both of our families live far away. I was considering staying home, but now I am not so sure that is a good Idea...I worked full time with my son. I feel like I may not be such a good stay at home MOM. Any advice on how to get the day to flow more smoothly (aka schedule).

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A.A.

answers from Chicago on

Hello, it can be hard adjusting to 2. I enjoyed the book Baby Wise with my kids. They were both sleeping through the night by 8-10 weeks and were both on nap schedules. Schedules are key to having a happier home. I was not 100% rigid, but did follow the book fairly close and both my kids go to bed at 8 pm, my 2 year old goes down for his naps each day without fighting.
Good luck!
A.

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P.

answers from Chicago on

Hang in there! I think it gets better after the 2nd month - at least that is what everyone told me when I was going through a similar thing...and it did get much better.

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C.R.

answers from Chicago on

I feel your pain. My kids are about the same age apart. It was so hard at first. Carrying the baby in a sling or snugli definitly helped. Go outside for walks as often as possible. My baby was born in the winter and we couldn't go out. It was horrible. I tought some days would never end.

My house was a disaster for a long time. I just did what I could. My husband also works long hours and there are many days that I feel like a single parent. If you have a neighbor or somebody to visit, that is always something to do. I agree with signing your older one up for some kind of class. My son did gymnastics and I carried the baby in the snugli. Just getting out of the house seemed to help.

It seems like it will take forever, but it does get better. It is so precious how my son loves his baby brother. He is so gentle and sweet to him.

Hope this helps a little.

[email protected]____.com

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V.

answers from Chicago on

Since you and your husband both work, and you have two jobs (mom and work), I suggest splurging on your family and hiring a cleaning lady. I realized that it doesn't matter to me who did the dishes or cleaned the floor, but it does matter who plays with and holds my daughter. I'd rather spend the money on someone to clean up than someone to "babysit" and "occupy" my kid through a class. Also, hiring someone to cook a week's worth of meals for you--call a few catering companies. Sometimes the chefs can be hired to do this on the side. It will benefit the whole family and you'll still have time with your two precious ones! I say it's well worth it !

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K.K.

answers from Chicago on

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!! Everyone feels this way, especially in the beginning! I have a 2 year old and a 9 month old and at first it was terrible. You are tired from no sleep at night, and still no sleep at night now I might add. BUT it does get easier. Once your little girl gets older it gets easier. Now that the baby crawls, they play with each other or she can entertain herself. It does get better! Maybe see if you can find a neighbor or someone to watch the baby once or twice a week so you can have some alone time with you older son? My neighbors and I swap sitting all the time. You could also check with your local chruch or religious organization that you may belong to. Maybe see if there are any mom's groups in your area that you may want to join. I joined 2. One with my church and MOPS-mothers of preschoolers. They have been great. Talking to mom's in similar situations is great. Also it opens up some resources for you in the way of baby sitting.
K.

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C.

answers from Chicago on

Hang in there and keep in mind a lot of people feel overwhelmed with the second child, with some it happens with the third. Anyway, there is a wonderful book called from one to two and talks about various challenges you might be facing. It was really helpful for us when we had our son. We have a beautiful and funny two year old daughter and four month old son. We have not been the best about schedules because we are in the process of selling our condo and moving to our new home so that in and of itself does not help. Using a sling or baby carrier has been a life saver for me. We also found that making a big deal about what a wonderful big sister our daughter is and how she mkaes us so happy has helped too. She has always been very independent but became very needy for about the first month or so our son was born, which is normal. Sometimes I found it was better to let the second child cry and attend to the 2 year old. It seems foreign and against maternal instinct but sometimes that is what you need to do. As far as staying at home or working you need to do whatever decision is best for you. I think we as mothers judge ourselves much too harshly and need to step back and realize it is hard work no matter what route you take. I felt the same way because I worked with our daughter and am now looking for another job as we relocate to the southwest suburbs. It is a lot of hard work but don't sell yourself short or miss out on the enjoyment that is there. Something key I had to do was lower my expectations of being what I thought was the perfect mom and accomplishing everything. Once I did this I was able to enjoy things more, nothing is perfect but it was almost like I gave myself permission that it was okay. There are some days when the house looks upside down which can be an added stressor as we are have showings to sell our place but it works out. I also still struggle with getting both kids out of the house but if you can do this every once in a while - out the younger child in a carrier and take your older child to a playground - makes them so happy. Just keep in mind it does get better and you are a great mom!!!

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B.B.

answers from Chicago on

It will get better, I had similar issues, you just have to be patient. Your daughter will get better and you will spend more time w/your son. Have you tried going places like the park or the mall, colicky babies tend to sleep very well there, so while your daughter is sleeping you can have lunch or picnic, read in the park or just play with your son. Hope that helps.

B.

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J.

answers from Chicago on

A.,
I completely understand! My husband works long hours too. My daughter was 22 mo when I had my second daughter, My only piece of advice is that it gets better after another couple of weeks. I know how exhausted and overwhelmed you probably feel. I just tried to devote any time that the baby was sleeping (whenever that was) to my older one or to rejuvenate myself. Forget about the cleaning stuff for now and do it when you can. Having a happy kid is much better. I have to admit, my older one didn't really watch any TV until her sister came along. She watches one hour a day and during that time, I can take a shower, put the baby down, load the dishwasher etc. I think that a little TV is ok as long as you are able to be happier and it isn't abused. I felt that my baby didn't have any schedule at that time, but she got into one as she grew. That made it easier for the day to flow. Anyway, good luck and know that you aren't alone!

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M.

answers from Chicago on

I know how you feel, some great ways to keep your older child involved, have him help take care of his sister. My older child loved that. Other things that worked, I would get my older child set up doing an activity, coloring, simple things like using stickers and putting them on a page, we did a lot of easy crafts, using stamps, things 4 year olds like and then I would hold the baby and watch, my older child would then feel like I was still really involved. I would also make comments like Mommy and Payton love your picture, things like that to encourage Taylor to like her sister as well. It is hard and I at one time wanted to be a stay at home mom, but I also love working and balancing the is not easy, but for my kids, I think it is better I work, the time we spend together then is more quality time and it is sooooo good, even for little ones to be with other kids! I dont know if this has helped, I hope it did a little. I do understand though!
M.

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E.

answers from Chicago on

I went through something similar when our daughter came along when my son was almost 6. I just want you to know that of course it will get better as time passes. (Even in a few months things will be better so don't give up on yourself as a SAHM yet!) In the mean time, what I did with my baby was sometimes I put her in the crib and had to let her cry because I could hear my 6 year old doing something (like moving a chair so he could climb up on something) and I had to go to check on him. By the time I would take care of whatever he needed, I would realize that my daughter had stopped crying. Up to that point, I always rocked my daughter to sleep and gently put her in the crib...I wouldn't think of letting her cry. But, when I had to make sure my other child wasn't doing something potentially dangerous, I found that my daughter managed just fine. Maybe you could give something like that a try...maybe leave your baby in the crib after feeding her and rocking her for a while. You might be surprised that she does stop crying and settles down.
It put things in perspective for me that I wasn't always going to be able to take care of my younger one in the same way as I had beeen able to take care of my first child. My daughter is almost 5 now and she is more independent and self-reliant that my almost 10 year old son who had me to himself for almost 6 years. So please don't worry. Good luck!
Mary

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C.S.

answers from Chicago on

A schedule would sure help. Sounds like your daughter might have to learn to console herself and talk to the doctor about colick. Sometimes a change of formula or a prescription of Zantac would ease any discomfort a baby has.

I've been doing daycare for 25 years and have found the above change helps a colicky and crabby baby alot. Doctors aren't always agreeable on this though so it makes it tough.

However, if you really are worried and think you might be a better working mom, take your kids to daycare and then your oldest will have others to play with. Please don't sit him in front of the TV. Many of my daycare moms who have more than one find they are a better parent working because they are more organized this way and when they get home they can provide a more quality time with them since they are not with them all day. Don't feel guilty if this is your choice. Many friendships are made through daycare. Of course the key is to find a good quality daycare.

Hope this helps.

C.

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P.

answers from Chicago on

I had my 2nd child when my son was 3. It was very hard to transition but you'll figure it out.I would leave all house work till my kids went to bed. Yes I was exhausted but I hated taking that time away from my kids. My daughter would cry if not held but I found that if I was sitting on the floor playing with my son that I would lay my daughter right beside me with her head on my lap on some part of my body touching her she would lay there and not cry and that way I was able to play with my son. As soon as you figure out how to get your daughter to stop crying if not being held it will become easier and you'll feel like a better mom but your baby is only a month old they are demanding little people it does get easier as the baby gets on a schedule. You'll figure it out.Also look into a park district program that you can sign your son up for and you can join him in it that will give you some bonding time.
Good luck and hang in there.

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K.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,

While I don't have two yet myself, I work full time and have a 2 year old son and a dog. And a husband. :) You often feel pulled in a lot of directions. The best advice I've heard about this big transition is to involve your older child in simple things like taking diapers to the diaper pail, or having him get toys to bring to the baby.

Involvement in things that seem like work to us are still connections with your son and will make him, in theory, feel bonded to you both. And when you are doing things like tummy time for the baby, your son can be on the floor with you too, maybe you two can do a puzzle and the baby can get her tummy time.

Anyway...I wish you luck! Don't forget to get a bit of time for YOU....it always makes for happier moms. I don't see myself being home full time with my children either. It sounds horrible to people I think...but YOU know better than anyone where you excel. I am with my son 110% during early mornings, evenings and weeknds. But if I were home full time I just feel like I'd be less focused on him and more focused on stupid things like housework or cooking.

Oh and as far as a schedule...do start working on one now with your daughter. Kids do so well with them. The best books on baby/toddler advice I have found are the baby 411 and toddler 411 books. They are so straightforward and fun to read and offer great hints on many of these things. Again...lots of luck!

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T.G.

answers from Chicago on

I think we all go through this once we have a second child. Have you tried wearing a snuggly for your daughter? It makes it a lot easier on you to be able to play with your son at the same time. You're doing a great job, don't get down on yourself. It's a hard transition. You aren't getting any sleep and everyone is adjusting to the new baby. Get your son some easy new/special toys to play with. My daughter loves the colorwonder books - if she doesn't keep them on the paper there isn't any mess - or aquadoodle is good too. And it is easy to play with him and have the baby with you at the same time. It will get better. My girls are 18 months apart so I know what you're going through. Guilt is the one thing no one ever tells you about. You're doing a great job, just relax, let the dishes and laundry sit if need be. Good luck!

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K.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,
First of all, I'm sure you're a great mom, so don't put yourself down. As for your newborn daughter, you might try putting her in a sling or a wrap carrier on your body when you're walking around during the day. These take a little practice to use but will keep her close and comforted (she can hear your heartbeat) and will give you two - or at least one - free hand for much of the time. My son naps *wonderfully* in his sling, and he loves going for walks in it.

These take some time for both you and your baby to get used to. The first day she may only want to be in there for a couple minutes. The next day, a bit longer. Try putting her in for an increasing amount of time each day and soon she'll be content to sit in there for up to an hour at a time - longer if she's sleeping. Part of this learning process is your daughter getting used to being carried, and part is you getting used to tying her onto you. She will sense your confidence and as you become more confident wearing her she will be more comfortable.

The wrap that I have is a Storchenwiege, which is wonderful but expensive (around $100) but there are many more affordable ones out there - I would also recommend a "Bali Baby Breeze" (www.gypsymama.com) which is about $60 I think. I have a 4.6 m/ 5 yd one which is good for just about everything. The wraps come with instructions and there are many great resources out there at www.thebabywearer.com with how-tos and product reviews. I highly recommend that site if you decide to go this route. The wrap slings take a little learning - kind of like learning to tie your shoes - but are simple once you "get it".

If you decide to try this, let me know and I'll send you some instructions on how to tie this my favorite way for a newborn.

Good luck!

K.

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M.E.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A., Hang in there! My first son was 21 mts when my second son was born. Some things that worked for me:
1) Wake up with my 2nd about an hour before my 1st. That way the 2nd would be fed, burped and changed before my 1st woke up.
2) Wear a sling. There are so many different kinds. Keep your receipts so you can return those that are difficult to adjust, etc.
3) Have someone watch the baby for an hour so you can have a "date" with your first child. My older son loves telling people that we're on a "date." We only do this once a week, but it seems to be enough for him to know that we have our special time together.
4) Totally drop all expectations of a clean house, kitchen, laundry, etc. I didn't feel that I had a grasp on anything until my 2nd was almost 6 mts old. A friend of mine told me that she wasn't back to her old self until the 2nd was a year old.

Some mistakes I made that I wish I had not...
1) Let my 1st watch too many videos. That has been a hard habit for both of us to break. I bought him a new train table that has helped ENORMOUSLY!!
2) Get lazy with what I fed my 1st son. He was really good at eating veggies, etc. before the 2nd was born, but we've had to work hard to get him to start eating properly again. This could also be because he's 2.5 and just at the picky eater stage.
3) Dropped my 1st son's nighttime routine of bath, teeth brushing, book reading. It hasn't been too hard to get back into this routine. I just learned to start it a little later as soon as I put the baby down for the evening.

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M.G.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,

I can relate. I have a 7yr and 2 wonderful daughters age 15mos and almost 4mos!! My lil one was born a bit early and is also demanding. At first she cried alot but time and a great schedule are a blessing!! I am from Georgia and I met Dr. Leila Denmark (she is still alive and about 107yrs old)I still call her once a month. She helped develop the Diptheria vac!!! She has a book that I would strongly urge you to read!!! She helps Mom's recognize their place!!!! Your lil boy isn't being neglected! Just your presence and love are enough for now! I have my lil one on Dr. Denmark's 6/10/2/6 achedule!! You would just need to add another feeding at 10pm!! This schedule allows a nap two to three times a day!! Since they sleep alot throughout the day;just follow the feeding times and allow napping for now whenever she wants it!!! Once the schedule starts; you will be able to adjust a great time for you and your lil guy!!! Our families are away too!! Perhaps a play date might help too!!!

M.

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L.

answers from Chicago on

First of all just remember that this is only temporary. It will get better. When my son was born it was tough at first. Being outdoors helps a lot. Look into your local park district. They have a lot of classes that you could take your son to. He couold be with other kids. Have him help out with your daughter. If your daughter likes to be held a lot then sit together and read a book. My daughter was like that. I got a bouncy vibrating chair. Both of my children loved it. Try getting into a mom group. I know how you feel. My husband worked overnights and 2nd shift. Remember you are not alone and you can do it no matter what you think.

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D.

answers from Chicago on

I feel for you! I had a 23 month old and then gave birth to a very demanding baby boy 15 months ago! My recommendation for you is to get someone to watch the baby and take your son out for a little one on one time. It doesn't have to be long, maybe an hour or two. This will do both your son and you some good. I too did not have any family either and believe me, this will wear on you to the point where you don't know if you are going to make it. So get some time out, you will feel guilty at first for leaving the baby but it will make you feel better toward her in the end too!
Second of all, why is your baby screaming? My son was the same way and he ended up having an extreme case of reflux that lasted one year and then also a milk intolerance that made his stomach upset. It was so fustrating because I knew something else was wrong with him, but the peds just kept blaming it on the reflux. I sadly just switched him to soy milk about a month ago and it has made a world of difference. I would defiantly talk to your ped about the crying and make sure you say it is all the time. It could just be colic (sp?) but you never know.
By the way, I had an oopsee and am going for #3 here at the end of October. Help!!!!!
D.

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R.H.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A., I read your note and I feel for you - I had to respond! I have a one and two year old so my daughter has had her brother around for as long as she can remember, I brought him home from the hospital on her first birthday. I completely can relate to you feeling like your older one is being "left out." Some days I felt like I was the worst mother ever and my older child was going to grow up seeing counselors because I brought another baby into our home. That's clearly not the case. I talk to other moms about it all the time and I'm learning it's a universal feeling. It seems all mothers of siblings feel this way. Remember, you're doing a better job then you probably think you are, afterall, you're aware of it and concerned!!! From my experience, the advice I'll give you is that it gets easier. My children will sit and belly-laugh together like they do for NO BODY else. I know it's rough at first but give it some time and they'll be running around, laughing and playing together in no time!!!!
I joined a group called PACES which offers an informal seminar group about raising siblings. It helped me to talk to other moms and know that I was not alone in things that I was feeling! You can view their website at www.pacesmoms.com if you're interested in that!
You're doing fine!
R.

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A.R.

answers from Chicago on

I was in a similar situation when my daughter was a baby and I babysat my nephew who was only 1 yr old at the time and it was tough keeping them both occupied since my baby was such a high-needs child!

I'm not good with keeping to schedules myself, but here are some suggestions so that you can feel a bit more "hands-on" with your son too!

Since he is quite a bit older than your daughter, there are lots of things he can do without you constantly supervising. For example- if you make a dress-up trunk, he can play dress-up and come and surprise you with costumes and you can play pretend with him while still holding the baby.

Give him some play-dough or water color paint (at the kitchen table!) and give him things to make/paint, etc. Maybe you could make a theme week? For example- this week will be dinosaur/pirate/birthday week and we will dress up and play games and paint, etc. about our theme. (You could even have him start to trace letters, etc. There are LOADS of websites with printable worksheets that are even themed!)

What about playing games that require no hands-on? Sit by the window and guess the next color car to come by, or play "I spy" with colors, shapes, etc. that you see in a room.

If you have a yard and want to be outdoors some, send him to collect sticks/branches and you can lay them out in shapes to make pictures or letters... or a scavenger hunt- tell him "bring back 3 red leaves" which is good practice in listening skills/directions. My daughter is 6 now and LOVES to "paint" with a pail of water and an old clean paintbrush (works well on porch or patio, outdoor furniture, etc)

If you don't mind a little mess, get a shallow pan or rubbermaid container and fill with dry rice and/or beans and let him play on the floor or at the table with it like a sandbox- use sifters, measuring cups, etc.

My daughter also loves to try picking things up with kitchen tongs, or clipping clothespins to things, playing with ice-cube trays, etc. -- look around your house for safe alternatives to regular "toys" to entertain him too.

There are also good computer games for his age- check Walmart and Marshalls for some cheapies but goodies! And don't forget that websites have free games- try www.pbskids.org for some educational games with characters he will recognize.

As far as having to hold the baby all day, two things worked really well for me- try a sling (walmart sells these, as does La Leche League) which is a piece of fabric that wraps around you diagonally and holds your baby tight to your chest and leaves your hands free. My daughter LOVED the baby swing too... you can find these at thrift/second hand stores sometimes for just a few dollars, or maybe $20 at walmart for the wind-up kind.

If you would like ideas for websites, email me ([email protected]____.com) and I can send you a HUGE list I have made for my daughter. I began homeschooling her when she was 4 and have loads of resources for that age group!

Remember, you have only been a mommy to TWO children for a month- don't be so hard on yourself; you will find your groove! Just give it time and keep trying!

Hope this helps,
Amanda

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A.B.

answers from Phoenix on

You are not alone in this!! I am a mother of 2. My son is 27 months old and my daughter is 3 months old. Boy oh boy! I thought that I was going to die in the beginning. She's been a great night sleeper so there weren't any issues there but the day was horrible. She's now getting on a daytime nap schedule and my son is in Preschool from 9 - 11am (M, W, F). In the afternoons, I play with both of them where I can have her next to me on the floor (her play mat works great) and I read stories or do puzzles with my son. I also go outside with both of them. She seems to calm down when she's outdoors. I pull him around the backyard in his wagon or play "Peekaboo" around the trees or shed, etc.. There are good days and some not so good but I'm feeling so much better about having 2 kids and my sanity is coming back as well!! Treat yourself with a cleaning crew too. I finally snapped because my husband works long hours and I was doing everything (it seemed). Now that I do not have to worry about cleaning the toilets, etc... I feel really good. I also focus on the kids more without thinking about when I can spare some time to windex the mirrors!! Good luck to you. I can say that it will get better because it is for me.

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J.E.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,
We are in a similar boat. Our daughter is 3 months and our son is 4 1/2. I feel your pain about neglecting your older child. I can't really offer any advice, but I will tell you that for us - things have gotten better and better just recently. She seems to be finding a schedule all of a sudden and our son is not showing as many signs of neglect. The bottom for me was we were on a playdate at the Arboreteum and my son told my sister-in-law that mommy is very busy and can't always play with me. What's funny is that I work, but I am a teacher and have been off for the summer. If ever I really haven't been busy - it is now. I started to panic that he really would be neglected come October when I go back to work. So... as any good parent - I overcompensated and spoiled him with attention for weeks. At the end of the guilt-ridden playing with him all the time, I still had a needy baby and I added a spoiled brat to the mix. As you can see, I am not really in a position to offer anyone else advice, but I feel your pain. Hang in there!!! Things will get better!

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M.

answers from Chicago on

I don't know how good this advice is but have you tried a Kangaroo carrier or something similiar. Those carriers that allow you to carry the baby close but still allow your arms to be free. I have heard from different moms that this is a godsend I would think especially since you also want to have some time with your boy. The baby can sleep away in the carrier on your body and meanwhile you can play a game or activity with the boy, also help in freeing up your hands for chores. I am almost due and will be using it. I hope this helps, good luck.

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