Do not be surprised when after your second child is born, you look at the energy you spend in a day and realize a majority of it was spent…not tending to the baby as you might imagine…but doting on your first born. Unless someone prepares you for this, you might find it odd. “How did I think tending to a baby was so hard?” I consistently hear second time moms in my baby classes saying “Now that I’ve had my second, it’s my toddler that’s giving me a run for my money! HELP!”
Help is here…in the form of helping you RESET your expectations. This is where everything flows from after all, isn’t it? Our expectations in life?If I expect my kitchen to be messy after coming home from a rare girls night out or something, and it looks like a tornado hit when I do in fact get home, I am not let down. I expected it to look this way. I might even see it as a worthy trade off for the time with friends. If though I come home to messy kitchen and expected my husband to have cleaned it while also getting the kids dinner, baths and to bed (as maybe I would have be able to do) then when I walk into the eye of Katrina right there in my own kitchen, I am more likely to feel hugely overwhelmed and disappointed; two very different reactions to the same reality of a messy kitchen.
Let’s take a closer look at this thing called expectations and how we might be able to use them in our favor when it comes to brining our new baby home to our once “only-child” first born. I have four simple tips to ease this transition, each involving a “reset” of expectations:
1. You will want to use videos and TV at opportune moments…for your sanity. My husband calls me the “TV Nazi” for how anti kids watching T.V. I am normally, but there are times for every rule to be broken…and this is one of them. When our first born was 2 ½ and I needed her to be entertained and not disturb me for 30 min while I put our second down for afternoon naps, I would throw in Clifford the Big Red Dog. It was one of these videos during nap time moments that actually brought us to doing yoga together. We rented YOGAKIDS video from the library and Reilly started watching this while I put Morgan down for her afternoon nap. I remember coming out of the nursery to find Reilly in a downward dog and how tears came to my eyes, watching my not so long ago “baby” now enjoying a little yoga on her own time. And yes…I was hugely post baby hormonal at the time so it didn’t take much to get those tears flowing. TV is not always a bad thing. It’s not better than time with you but it’s not going to kill them either…and could even teach them something new. So use it like anything you use with your kids…selectively and with your eyes wide open.
2. You will need to lock yourself in the bathroom for a moment’s peace at least daily…so do it. Go in there and use it like an ashram in India…close your eyes, breath, and let our mind clear of all the days follies…if only for 10 seconds. Then unlock the door and emerge rested, restored and renewed to dole out the love and attention you give so freely to the ones you love in your home.
3. Anything that is clean will get dirty again…and sooner than later. So don’t be in a rush to clean up. Take wiping down the kitchen table for instance…you used to wipe every time you ate? I’m saying just assume it will go through varying levels of messiness through the day and to conserve your energy. Wipe the table down only once at the end of your day when all the mess makers are snug in their beds. This will give you the extra time you are so desperately looking for to play with your kid/s, tend to your baby and or to have a moment’s peace to yourself. Apply this tip to all things housework…picking up toys, dishes (do mid and end of day…not every time a spoon or cup is used), groceries (wait until every last can good in the home is used and above all things AVOID going 2 or more times a week like you used to do…that’s just insanity with two or more kids…!!!) and even personal time management…emails checked once or twice a day not hourly…voice mails same…and so on and so on.
4. And finally, whenever possible, lower your expectations for yourself and everyone/everything in your life. This is the most important tip of all. That way, when you or someone in your world does something good, you’ll be more apt to be like “WOW!!!” than “It’s about time!!@#!!!”. Be gentle with yourself and those you love. Be gracious. Tell yourself what a good job you did getting in the shower after 3 days of not having time for one. Pat yourself (or your husband) on the back when you stop to look at your tots drawings or read to them. Honor yourself and the way in which you are giving, giving, giving these days and you will be more able to honor your toddler even when they are mid melt-down or frustrated at not getting the attention they feel they deserve (RIGHT NOW!!!).
As one of my older, wiser friends told me when I was starting a family…”Be sweet to one another….just be sweet ….” and to this I would add… “…to yourself!” Do these 4 things and whatever else your intuition guides you to do in the way of set realistic expectations (some might say “lower” but that’s relative and I prefer the word “realistic”) and sweetness will prevail over any difficulties the transition of bringing a baby home might bring. And hopefully one day soon, your children will accept the many changes going on at home because you are accepting; they will find thanks because you are full of gratitude; they will feel love because you feel love; they will learn boundaries because you have them. And finally (and perhaps most importantly) your children will leave you alone for 3 minutes because you know how to lock the bathroom door.
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003, Suzanne owns a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and health education teacher. Certified in a number of healing and life education approaches, Suzanne offers life coaching as Zen Mommy Coach and parenting tips through the positive parenting e-Book Yogi Parenting.