Having kids is hard. No one will argue that. But the thing about it is that there’s no one who can tell you just how hard it will be. And even more important: it’s worth every difficult moment. I could tell you about my experiences (both good and trying) but I’d never be able to accurately put into words what it’s really like. Maybe that’s a good thing. The human race is, after all, still around. While there may be a few perfect parents who have it all together, for the most part we’re left to do the best we can and figure this all out as we go. And, because of that, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about maintaining my sanity with a second kid.
Take time to yourself.
You’ve heard this one before, but it really will be important even though it feels impossible. The realistic way to make it happen? Schedule it and start small. I’m 6 weeks postpartum as I write this and I’ve been out completely by myself exactly three times since Foster was born. All were solo shopping trips. And that’s been enough to give me something to look forward to doing by myself. It won’t take getting pampered to make you feel like you got some “me” time.
Once you’re cleared by your doctor, exercise.
Even if it means loading a screaming baby in the stroller and throwing caution to the wind by giving the toddler an entire bag of Goldfish, do it. For 10 minutes. A walk outside can make a huge difference. I’ve been waking up early on the weekends (which feels simultaneously awesome and horrible when you’ve got a newborn) to go for a walk by myself for 45 minutes, and I’m hopeful that as Foster gets older exercising will get easier.
Go on dates with your oldest child.
This is the big one and the one that no one else told me about. Even though I love my boys more than I ever could have imagined (don’t worry about not having enough love for your second baby, your heart will expand instantly), there’s a tiny bit of guilt that Graham doesn’t get the attention he used to. That makes trips out with just Mom or dad even more special. Last Sunday we had about 30 minutes in the afternoon when Foster was happy and Jon was available to watch him and I took Graham to get ice cream – just the two of us. It wasn’t long, but I probably told him I loved him 763 times and he got some one-on-one time with me.
I don’t, by any stretch, claim to have it all figured out. I’m fumbling along with everyone else. Despite doing these things, I still have moments (daily) when I feel like I’m losing my mind and trial and error feels a lot more like error after error after error (as evidenced by this lovely picture below).
But I can tell you it makes a difference to try and to figure out what works for you. It will get easier.