We recently had our second child, the age gap between him and our eldest daughter is three years. As a pragmatist I had one concern during the pregnancy, “How the hell are we going to logistically manage 2 kids?”
It took us 3 years to perfect the routine with one child and I couldn’t conceive how we’d practically pull off another kid, it seemed like we as a family unit were already at full capacity.
Well the good news is, it actually (surprisingly) hasn’t been that tough. Going from 1 kid to 2 kids is not like going from 1 kid to 10 (which I anticipated), it’s more like going from 1 kid to 1.2 kids. Having two kids is more work, but it’s not twice as much work.
Notably the second time around you really feel like a pro, nothing phases you and I think the child feeds off that relaxed energy. At least in our case our son is very chill, and he is happy to be left alone while we go through the bed time routine with our daughter etc.
Of course it’s not all roses. So here are 7 tips to get through the “New dad 2.0 experience”
1. Anticipate the change in routine before the baby comes
For us, I knew I’d have to take over drop offs and pick ups from day care for our eldest, so I planned my work schedule accordingly. Not everyone will be the same, work out what will change for you.
2. Start the new routine BEFORE your baby comes
This is what I didn’t do, and it was a huge rookie mistake.
The truth is the biggest challenge you’ll have with the new baby is managing the jealousy of your eldest, and hitting her with a whole new routine in life just as the baby arrives will only make things much worse.
Taking my daughter to daycare must of felt like a further rejection from her Mum after baby came. Mum and daughter trips to daycare were as normal as breakfast to her and now that’s suddenly changed. Not fair.
3. Plan Mum and eldest child time daily
The new baby will be a big adjustment for your eldest. Try to accomodate at least a 1 hour block each day when there is no one else in the room but Mum and her. Give them quality time together and your eldest will be much better behaved.
4. Your number 1 focus is keeping Mum from burning out
Anticipate all the things that will lead to your Mrs burnout. The reality is, no will work harder than she will, no matter how much you do or if she’s breast feeding or not.
If you can keep her from burnout your baby will be more chill and she’ll have more energy to spend time with your eldest (helping reduce jealousy).
Everyone is different, and each family has different resources and support at their disposal. Work out what yours are and optimise for the following. Note: this list is not exhaustive, just some thought starters;
- House work. Do it. If you’re the dad it’s your sole job for at least 3 months. If you don’t have time to do it, pay for a cleaner, if you cannot afford it, get family to help or do it yourself. Either way the responsibility is on YOU.
- Avoid too much time with Mum alone with both kids. Early on, this will be chaos. Try to make sure someone is always with Mum when two kids are present to help out. It can be you, a friend, a relative, whoever. She’ll need support early, especially with a jealous older child screaming for attention.
- Mum needs “Me time”. Block out times when Mum can go to the gym, get her nails done, read books, whatever. Make sure she has time each week with no kids, like most dads get to have.
- Ensure Mum is eating right. If she doesn’t have the time to sort out healthy meals, help her sort it out so its one less thing for her to worry about. She needs all the right foods to keep her energy up (just like you do), so get on the front foot if she isn’t on top of it.
5. Anticipate no sleep
Yes lack of a sleep is brutal, probably the hardest thing about being a new dad. However the good news is that lack of sleep is the biggest challenge.
Work out a system to make sure you’re not an asshole when you’re sleep deprived and you’ll be golden.
Michael Scott of The Office
6. Don’t fall into the trap of letting your eldest watch YouTube Kids in lieu of a baby sitter
Seriously, read this. Avoid that poisonous app at all costs.
6. Try and do a feeding shift
Pick a time that mum can sleep during your shift. Even if she is breast feeding, you can give a bottle of expressed milk. This will be a game changer for her.
7. Watch this video, it’s hilarious (Note: It won’t help you to manage a second kid)
Karl Pilkinton on why he doesn’t have kids