I have been there! 3 times! I want to offer some tips from the trenches I have personally picked up to help you have an easier transition as your family grows.
Get control of the mess before it even starts. Declutter, declutter, declutter.
One effective and fun way I found to declutter toys was to box up the majority of the toys and place them in our attic. I organized them so that I could pull out a few boxes every few months and rotate through them all in a year. This way the toys seemed fresh and new! Young children get overwhelmed by a large mess and by limiting the toys they are less likely to make one.
Sectioning off the house to limit access for the younger ones can be a lifesaver. I used to think of them for just safety reasons, like stairs, but keeping kids out of the kitchen while trying to make dinner, or your bedroom while you nurse the baby to sleep can be really helpful. And knowing they are restricted to one part of the house means they are only destroying, er, I mean, enjoying that one area.
Restrict access to messy and dangerous things.
Make full use of cabinet locks, put away the fragile decorations, rearrange the furniture… Do whatever it takes so you don’t have to say, “don’t touch that, get off of there, don’t open that.” 500 times a day. Think beyond childproofing. Get your partner on board. Your house may look different for a few years. That’s ok!
Plan for your postpartum!
Did you make a birth plan? Great, make a postpartum plan too! Don’t just hope for the best, plan for the best. Who’s going to help with the household? What will you eat? What will the older ones eat? The less you have to orchestrate while recovering physically, building a healthy milk supply, and caring for a newborn, the better.
People want to help.
“If you need anything, let me know” – LET THEM KNOW! Make a list of easy to do tasks and then if someone offers to help, they can simply pick from the list.
Be Elsa. – Let it go…
While establishing routines and being consistent is important, during transitions, it’s good to be flexible. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Spend Quality one-on-one time with your older child(ren).
Notice that I wrote quality and not quantity… You will be very focused on your new little one. Feeding and nurturing a newborn, and yourself, is time consuming. Don’t let the big ones get lost in the shuffle. Set aside time daily to have special time with them. It can be 5 minutes, but more importantly, let them take the lead and have fun. For more ideas about special time, visit my favorite parenting resource.
What are some things that have been helpful to your growing family?