Ty and I had been married less than 2 years when our first child was born. We were both in college (although, I had started attending part time), and we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment on the edge of town. Nothing could have prepared me for what life would be like with a little person in the house to take care of. I had a lot of things I had to figure out, but I loved being a mom!
Almost 3 years later, our second child was born – a girl. Now, we were living on a ranch in the middle of nowhere with not much of an income, but I don’t really remember her birth upsetting the balance of things much.
It was nearly 4 years before our 3rd child was born. The adjustment that came with her birth was more of me RElearning how to parent an infant. More than once, I forgot to bring a diaper bag along with me on an excursion! You can read my story of our long wait for her HERE.
After such long breaks between babies, imagine my surprise when Baby #4 showed up just 16 months after Baby #3! And that’s when things got interesting! I’ve written about how I call his birth my Crossover Point because all of the systems I had in place prior to his birth no longer worked. I remember sitting on the couch staring out the window wondering what I was going to do. In fact, I’m not sure I adjusted to his entrance into our family until #5 showed up 17 months later!
Need help getting back in shape after pregnancy?
We love The Tummy Team!
Honestly, every child requires some sort of adjustment. Some babies are easy babies and don’t seem to disrupt the family dynamic much at all. Others bring major changes for various reasons. For instance, our #7 was colicky and our #10 had medical issues. Both of these things created a lot more havoc in our lives than some of the others. And after #9, I struggled with postpartum anxiety which made adjusting to her birth more difficult than it would have been had I been healthy. There are also family changes that might make the adjustment to a new baby more difficult – a move, a job loss, a needy toddler, caring for an elderly or sick parent, etc.
While I can’t write a post that speaks to every single circumstance, I can speak in generalities when it comes to adjusting to a new baby and making the transition as smooth as you can – always understanding that sometimes it just isn’t smooth no matter what you do. Sorry.
Don’t expect trouble
If you spend a lot of time fretting and stewing about something that may or may not happen, chances are it WILL happen. Don’t stress over how your schedule is going to be a mess. Don’t stress over how you are going to cope. Don’t stress over how your toddler is going to take having a new baby in the house.
For more on the topic of toddlers handling the new baby, check out my new book,
When you spend a lot of time dwelling on what might be, you tend to almost speak it into existence. You create problems that weren’t there to begin with. You have spent so much energy thinking about all the bad stuff that could happen when adding a new baby to the family that you can’t help but take a pessimistic view of what your world is going to look like.
Even if you know you are going to have a medically fragile child or you know that your family’s circumstances are going to be difficult, don’t camp out there. No matter what, God says children are a blessing. If He has allowed this child to enter your life, then you can unequivocally guarantee he or she is a blessing to your family. Dwell on that.
Prepare as best you can
Sometimes I manage to put away freezer meals by the dozens before a new baby arrives, but most of the time, I can’t seem to manage anything but gestating. We homeschool year round so I can take time off when the baby comes, but usually I need time off before baby comes instead. I often put together a Mama Basket to keep things I need nearby once baby is here, and I usually manage to pack a hospital bag within a week or two of delivery, but honestly, I don’t get much prep work done when I am so huge I can barely move. So, the moral of this story is prepare as best you can, but if you can’t, trust that somehow you will do what needs to be done after baby is here.
Don’t make a bunch of changes all at once
I remember when I was preparing for baby #10 I spent a lot of time wondering where I was going to put her. The thing was, I knew for the first year or so she was going to be IN MY ROOM. Why in the world did I expend so much energy thinking about something that did not need to be thought about yet? I can’t even answer that, but maybe it was pregnant brain working on overtime that did it to me? No matter what it was, my admonition to you is to not try to make a bunch of changes in the household all at once, but rather sit back and watch, and then make changes.
Because of Mercy’s cleft palate and sleep apnea, she stayed in her Rock ‘N Play way longer than any of my other children. Then, because of her surgeries and other special needs, I have kept her in her bed in our room and probably will continue to do so for much longer than usual. Had I tried to rearrange bedrooms, buy new bunk beds, or displace everyone trying to find “room for the new baby” from the get-go, I would have made a bunch of unnecessary changes. I’ve learned to sit back and watch for the next thing that needs to be managed rather than manage things before they need to be.
Until you can get your feet under you, simplify everything you possibly can. No guilt. No shame. No regrets. You don’t have to use cloth diapers right out of the gate. You don’t have to cook meals, keep up your cleaning schedule, or even wash your hair right away (although, most of us remember fondly that first REAL SHOWER we got postpartum, eh?)
Ease in to a new routine as you see it emerge. Babies tend to find a rhythm after 6 weeks or so. It’s not usually a perfect one, but it usually has some consistency to it. Prior to that point, do what you can when you can and let go of everything else. Let baby lead and fit the rest of your life into the in-between spaces. But, keep the rest of your life low-key and simple so you don’t miss all the wonderfulness of those early days!
You will adjust
I think the biggest stressor we face when we bring a new baby home is the perception that we won’t be able to adjust. We won’t know how to make things work, we won’t manage everything properly, or we will end up messing everything up. The truth of the matter is that YOU WILL ADJUST. I eventually got off the couch after baby #4 and figured out how to survive. It wasn’t pretty, but looking back, it wasn’t too bad. My house was a wreck most of the time, I wore my hair in a ponytail every single day, and I don’t remember much about that year, but what I do know is that we lived through it and eventually I did find my groove. Your adjustment may not be pretty, but you will end up doing whatever it takes to make it work.
For some super practical tips on managing life with a new baby (more specifically for the homeschool mom), CLICK HERE!