How to Prepare for Second Child
It was a blissful experience to hold my first born in my arms. She was all wrapped up like a bundle of joy and yawned a little when she was passed on into my arms. She barely opened her little eyes and was struggling hard to pull her little arms out of her wrap. And before we knew it, she was all grown up and going to school. And that’s when we thought about a second child.
Deciding about the second child
In India, lots of people are ready to give you the much unwanted advice. You will find aunts, uncles, cousins, even friends giving you precious advice about how many children is ideal for a happy family.
However, remember that it will be only you who will be responsible for your children. And things can get particularly nasty if both the partners do not have the same opinion. Do not use external pressure to convince your spouse but try and reason with him / her.
Things that matter
Finances: You will also need to consider your finances. Some people tend to think that they want to give the best to their only child and yet some others who think that having the company of a sibling will make up for the loss of monetary advantage. So, talk to your spouse and decide what school of thought you will belong to.
Career: The next important thing to decide will be about your career. It is important to think about your career and how to manage both children while you want to pursue your job.
So, it might still mean that you will not be able to work at least for a while. Given the truth, how would you manage your existing commitments?
Once you have these and other priorities sorted out, you will be able to decide whether you want to go for a second child and if yes, when?
What it means to the Parents?
A second child usually means a lot to the parents. I keep wondering – If experience makes you wiser, how is it that a second child is more difficult? It means sleepless nights, cutting down on outings, changing diapers, food tantrums, toilet trainings and all else all over again! But it also means seeing their innocent smiles, coo-cooing with them and being the center of their undivided attention.
So, how is it different from a first child?
I like to talk about the good part first. So, here are the advantages. You are more experienced with the handling of a child already. So, you are no longer skeptical about every single nuance. It is easier to handle the sleep patterns, breast feeding, bathing and hygiene, diaper and rash care and a lot of other little ailments.
When my first born was transferred to the room, I did not want to hold her as I was worried about dropping / mishandling her. However, when my second child was born, I had the confidence to immediately hold him and nurse him.
However, the biggest challenge will be in helping your first born to cope with the trauma. No matter how much your older child understands, there can never be enough preparation for a second child. The second child takes the attention, gifts are bestowed upon the second one, new wardrobe is procured, and a whole world being depleted in front of their eyes.
Preparing your first child
1. It is good to break the news early to your first child and encouraging him / her to participate. The older child can talk to your tummy and indulge in gentle massages if he / she is old enough. My friend Priya had a particularly difficult second pregnancy and so, did not break the news to her older one for the fear of disappointing him. However, once the kid realized that a sibling was on the way, there was so much positive energy that the older one was emulating that she pulled through an almost impossible pregnancy.
2. Include the child in trips to the doctor and ultrasounds. You will be amazed to see the reaction of the child. My daughter kept asking the doctor to show the arms and legs and face of the little one. She was so amazed about every movement the child made. She was so excited about seeing the child suck its thumb that my whole community knew when I had an ultrasound.
3. Let the older one pick the shopping. It gives the older one a sense of happiness and belonging to be picking clothes and other nitty-gritties for the little one. You could lay out the clothes that you short-listed and ask the older one to pick what he / she thinks is the best choice for the sibling.
4. Spend quality time with the older one. Whenever the little one is sleeping or when you have help in the form of help / maid / spouse, spend time with the older one. It can be in the form of playing a game, or going to the park or even reading stories.
5. You might see a change in the behavioral pattern of the older child. You might notice that he / she might not be eating properly or throwing tantrums or may be reverting to pre toilet training stage. Do not fret and do not get upset. Your child is merely trying to cope.
Take time for Yourself
You will find that the time you might expect to catch up on sleep may now be occupied by your older child. This takes a toll on your own health. So, ensure that you make time for yourself as well as the child.
If you have had a particularly difficult birth, you might be totally fatigued and your body might be requiring adequate rest. It might be best to ask for someone to help you or even hire a help to see you through that phase.
The most important of all is to take time off for your relationship with your spouse. There may be very little if not no time at all for yourself between caring for two kids. Make sure that you rekindle the affection between yourselves once things settle down. You might think of going to a restaurant or even taking walks. Do not let the fire between you die down else your relationship might get affected.
It is indeed a very big step to decide caring for two children. But having taken that step you will find that it can be extremely taxing on your own self. However, when you see the budding love between your children, you will find it very satisfying. The first thing I felt when I held my second born was “Now my family is complete!”