Hey Mama, I am sharing my story of how I found my balance as a mama of two. This transition was tougher than I expected but I managed a rhythm and I know you will too. Read on for tips and advice to find you balance too.
I knew that adding another child into our family would present a learning curve for everyone but I’m not sure I expected the mom guilt. Feeling like I was always letting one of my children down plagued the early days of being a mom of two. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I still feel it but I have managed to find ways to strike a balance between both kids. Hopefully, I can help you do the same.
It's a tough transition going from a mom of one to a mom of two. My first-born was my world. Every day, every activity was about him. What does he want? How can I make this day the most fun for him? Suddenly, those daily thoughts morph into; how am I supposed to do this activity with him when I need to tend to my newborn? Am I giving him enough attention? How do I find a balance?
In the early days, I felt like I needed two of me: one mom for Luke and one for Zowie too. I exhausted myself trying to be so much for them. I would end the day with a pounding headache from constantly bouncing from one child to the other, trying to make sure they got 100 percent of me all day long.
I wanted so badly for Zowie to have the same newborn experience Luke had. I also wanted so badly for things to stay the same for Luke. But as with any change, resisting it, only makes the transition harder. I don’t think I was aware that I was resisting this new adaptation to our lives. After all, it was something I wanted. I just needed time to adjust to the new normal. I was trying my best to cope but what I needed to do was embrace.
I found that I had to let go of my expectations for how I would spend time with my new baby. Some of the memories I cherish most about my son’s early days (reading him countless books, spending hours studying him, long strolls in the park every morning) simply were not going to be possible for my daughter, at least in the same way.
My heart broke when I realized that would not be Zowie’s reality. However, I have come to find that although her babyhood looks different than my firstborn’s, it’s not any less. In fact, there is a possibility her young life is even richer.
She gets a more experienced mom who is surer of herself and surer of how to care for a newborn. She gets a mom who knows how to handle nighttime wakings and fussiness with ease. She gets a mom who intrinsically knows her needs sometimes before she does. This is not to say there is never any trouble but there is definitely less crying, less overfeeding, and fewer naptime struggles. As time passes and we grow into our motherhood role, we are capable of so much more than we realize.
We absolutely have the ability to raise multiple children that all receive an abundance of care, attention, and love. So it is vital to stop the comparison of what each child gets or has gotten from us. It is a dangerous mindset that will only leave us feeling defeated. Each of our subsequent children will be raised under a different set of circumstances. Their young experiences will all be different but if we can let go of comparison, we can relish in the childhood we create for them.
Isn’t that a beautiful thought to simply let go of the guilt we create for ourselves and instead enjoy what we can provide for them, rather than focusing on what we can’t? Siblings are such a gift. They are allies, friends, and someone who knows exactly what it’s like to grow up the way they did. They may get less one on one time but they get so much more in return.
It’s essential to allow yourself grace during the process of adjusting to being a mom of multiple children. Acknowledge the fact that you are a good mother and that you can effectively nurture and tend to them because you can mama. Live in the moment with your children and focus on what you can do to build a beautiful and rich childhood for them. They do not need perfection; they simply need your attention and affection.
As time passes, you will regain the rhythm you once knew and find ways to naturally distribute that attention and affection equally. I have discovered a few ways that I find effective in replacing the mom guilt with a sense of harmony.
First, let go of focusing on how much one on one time your eldest is losing and your youngest isn’t getting. Instead, concentrate on how to incorporate your time together and how to make it as rich as possible. Be present and find ways to grow your bonds as a unit.
Next, reestablish your routine. Before your youngest arrived, you probably had a solid way of doing things. Instead of trying to fit your newborn into your old routine, take the time to create a new schedule that works in everyone’s best interest.
As you are doing this, find time each day to devote one on one attention to each child. This does not have to be for long, just enough time to create a special moment of connection. I try my hardest to make use of naptimes. When one child is sleeping, it allows me an opportunity to focus all of my attention on the other. If your children nap at the same time or you have more than two children to balance, try to utilize a time when your partner can help you get in a few specialized moments in with each child.
Lastly, I have found that when giving physical contact to one child, giving your attention to the other can help them feel equally supported. For example, if you are holding your youngest, interact with your older child. If your older child is sitting in your lap, talk, and/or play with your younger child.
There is of course a time and place for this. Sometimes your child needs both your physical comfort and your attention. However, during regular day-to-day interactions, I have found this to be an effective way to evenly distribute my motherly affection in a way that feels like I am honoring both of my children simultaneously.
As your new normal sets in and your life regains rhythm (this just takes time) you will become more and more comfortable in your ever-expanding role of motherhood. Day by day you will figure out small ways to balance your time and attention and eventually it won’t feel so tough. Remember Mama, you are doing so much better at all of this than you think!