There were a few things I did pre-birth to help make the transition to life with two kids just a little easier on myself. I'm a Type-A personality, so I knew I had to plan and prepare wherever possible to save myself anguish down the road.
Here's a few things I did to help prepare for life with two:
- I set goals for household "nesting" projects and stuck to it. I wanted the kid's playroom moved downstairs, the new baby's nursery completed and Tory transitioned to a big girl bed with a minimum thirty day cushion before Aden was born. The downstairs storage room needed a good cleaning, as the garage and the pantry closet by the front door. I know it wouldn't have been the end of the world if these projects weren't finished by the time Aden was born, but it would've nagged me until they were done. And, it was far easier to decorate and organize with one toddler vs. one toddler and a newborn baby.
- I prepped three month's worth of make-ahead freezer meals. I remember how difficult it was to find my way back to the kitchen after Tory was born, and I wanted to be more prepared this time around. Normally, I like to buy sustainable / organic foods for to prepare our meals, but I took the opportunity to shortcut and visited Let's Dish to pre-assemble meals at an in-store session. This method is typically more expensive than what I'd spend on groceries but the convenience was worth it.
- I use online grocery delivery. I'm lucky to have such a service available. It really isn't much more expensive than regular grocery store trips and for the convenience, I think it's justified. One of the local grocery stores also does car-side pick-up which I plan to utilize when I take two kids to the grocery store.
- I hired a house cleaner. I really struggled with this one initially because as a stay-at-home-mom and household manager, it feels like this is part of my job. But, it also stress me out to have a dirty house and with so many visitors and no time to clean up myself, I knew it'd help keep me sane. I know how fortunate I am to afford this luxury and I likely won't keep the cleaner forever, but to get me through the first few months of newborn life, it's worth it.
- I taught my toddler to be more independent. A few months before Aden was born, I worked with Tory on becoming more independent. I suppose it worked out well since most two-year-olds strive to do things themselves anyway, but I made a few simple arrangements to help the process. I bought a step stool and toilet ring so Tory could use the bathroom by herself. We worked on her pulling her own underwear up and down at the potty so I didn't have to be there to help every step of the way (though, truthfully, she's still not there completely with this one). I made a shelf with toddler-friendly snacks like applesauce packets, yogurt packets, packs of raisins and crackers. She can't open the snack containers on her own, but she can retrieve them and bring them for me to open. I also loaded up on adult-friendly snacks for me (granola bars, trail mix, etc.)
- I loaded up on stamps. In the weeks prior to Aden's birth, I purchased several packs of postage stamps for the countless thank-you's to be sent to friends and family. Thank-you notes (and their timeliness) are something I feel very strong about, so I wanted to make sure I had everything on hand to offer my thanks to everyone who helped us in one way or another.
- I wrote a detailed daily activity list for Tory well in advance. Luckily, my in-laws are fairly familiar with Tory's schedule, so I didn't have to worry much about her day-to-day schedule in my absence. However, I still wrote out a detailed list of Tory's daily schedule, activities she's signed up for with addresses and phone numbers well in advance should they need a reference point. I suggested foods she liked (and made sure to have those things in house).
- I told my friends and family exactly which baby items I needed. Not to sound too pushy, but with the second baby there were specific things I needed as gifts. For me, it was gender-specific outfits, bibs, socks and a new swing. I didn't want to be making trips to the store in the weeks after Aden's arrival or forced to launder the same three sleepers every few days, so I got specific to help others give gifts I needed most. I also borrowed extra newborn baby boy clothes from a friend, just to cover my bases. I wasn't sure what size Aden would be at birth, so I wanted to have plenty of clothes on hand in case he'd be wearing Size Newborn for a while.
- I accepted help when it was offered. With Tory, I remember feeling guilty accepting help from others, and I even felt like my loved ones wouldn't be able to care for her as well as I could. This time, I know my trusted circle of friends and family are completely capable. If someone offers to help, I suggest something they can do (laundry, cook meals, clean up, play with Tory) and take advantage of their offer to let me spend some one-on-one time with my baby boy or even take a quick shower. I also forced myself to relax when it wasn't done just as I would've completed it. Help is help and so long as the task at hand is being completed, it's okay. No one will die if the dishwasher isn't loaded correctly or laundry is folded different than usual.
- I purchased and wrapped Christmas presents in October. Having a baby in mid-November, and at the beginning of the holiday season, could have been stressful. I'm a perfectionist by nature and I wanted to enjoy crafting and baking during the holiday season. So, I prepared as much as I could by shopping and wrapping beforehand. I also put up my Christmas decorations well before the Thanksgiving holiday arrived. It's taboo, I know, but I had the available time a few weeks ago and I don't exactly have it now. This leaves only baking and crafts to complete with Tory in December and I'm setting myself up with low expectations on what I'll complete so any fun family activity feels like a win.