Each day I feel like I'm finding more shortcuts, more tricks to make my life easier with two. I'm also noticing a lot of the apprehension is gone, I'm much more laid back with baby number two. I know because of me, and in spite of me (hehe ;) ) they'll both survive.
1. baby gear-it's overrated, overpriced and never gets used as much as you think it will. Downsize. Especially since another body with another set of clothes and diapers will just take up more room than that fancy swing and extra bassinet.
2--everything is washable (I've said this lots) even the baby. A little dirt, food mush, cat hair, never hurt anyone, increases the immunity, makes for lots of laughs and good times by all. If it's not washable, why do you have it with kids around? (okay, except for those priceless Christmas card outfits.) You won't get through infancy and toddlerhood spotless, and if you somehow manage to, just know that age 5, 6 & 7 will get really, really messy.
3--trying to protect that baby too much makes a ridiculous amount of work for you, it's exasperating for him, and it's good for baby to get a bump or two, have to work at something, and cry for a minute or 3. I've learned that keeping baby surrounded by pillows and boppies while sitting only causes them to not develop their protective reflexes (meaning they won't learn how to put their own hands out for safety if there's always a pillow there, thus increasing the likelihood they'll fall more and longer than necessary). It's okay if baby tips over, does a face plant, etc. (No, I'm not encouraging you let baby roll off the changing table because you left him unattended, you know what I mean.) But it's okay for the toys to be out of reach, it encourages crawling. It's okay if they fuss at tummy time, keep doing it.
This also goes for germs, dirt, schedules, etc. We all need a little dirt and germs in our systems or you'll end up with one allergenic nerd ball. hehe. It's easy to keep an only child on a 'schedule', but when that second comes along, it's blown out of the water. Baby number 2 usually adapts to first child's routine, or the family routine. And first child will need to be flexible enough to adapt as well. This was when I was glad we occasionally slipped off our routines with Kian, he didn't freak out if we weren't home at a certain time, he didn't nap at exactly 12:04, etc. because nursing the second for 20 minutes means you can't just jump up and do x, y and z like you used to. And this leads me to...
4--creating some independence in the first child. Okay, sometimes Kian's independence is over the top (the other day he put his plate in the microwave and somehow pushed 30 seconds and started it before I got in there!) but it was great to be able to say "get me a burp cloth" and have him do it. Or leave some snacks on the bottom pantry shelf and tell him "you can go get ___" when I couldn't. Or being able to throw a plate of pb&j, carrots and grapes on the table and know I can use the bathroom, change a diaper or even shower and he's got it covered. ahhh.
5--baby carriers = lifesavers. when you have one that's walking, running and wanting to play (like say, at a museum or playground) a stroller just doesn't cut it, because then you're pushing with one hand, holding onto toddler's hand, etc. Wearing the second baby is much easier as it leaves both hands free to do whatever you need to do, even if that's just making yourself a sandwich. Also, frees up room in your car. (double stroller-ha yeah right.) Plus it gives the infant some close, mommy-skin time and helps them sleep better, longer and just plain makes them happier since they can be in the thick of it and see what's going on. Most babies get sick of looking at the ceiling lights laying in a stroller, and you end up carrying them anyways. And trying to put an infant seat in a grocery cart and a toddler, there's just not enough room! So, get a baby carrier. Peanut shell sling. Action Baby carrier. Ergo. Few of my faves, ones I own.
6--Reassign and re-delegate chores, baby care, etc. with your partner. It's fine that baby number one always wanted mommy to do everything, and I mean everything...until baby number two comes along. Kian just can't handle Kevin doing the entire bedtime routine every night (sometimes, yes) so we rethink and figure out other things that work. Maybe it's putting away dishes and loading the dishwasher while I do the bedtime routine. Or he brushes teeth and i finish with stories and prayers, or whatever. It's just a way of balancing it all out so that one person isn't doing it all or overwhelmed. And keeping the peace with everyone in the meantime. But again, flexibility is key with everyone, and it's okay for the first child to stretch and learn to adapt and change as well. (Although trying this in the first 2 months after the new baby arrives probably isn't the best time to expect acceptance of said changes.)
7--Throw expectations and schedules out the window if you have to. Every once in awhile the only way everyone naps is when we all pile in my bed with books. And I take advantage and nap too. Stop expecting a perfectly clean house. I hate it, but there are days my house looks like a disaster, but we've had so much fun that I let it go. Will my boys care at 18 or 35 if I kept a perfectly clean, dust-free house when they were 2 and 4? Nope. I know when they're older they'll be happier they can mess it up a bit and not feel like they live in an art gallery. This also goes for perfect behavior. And your dignity. And your pride. Throw them all away while you have young children. You don't need them now anyway.
8--Babies grow too fast, enjoy every second of it. Although sometimes I find myself enjoying the baby so much I need to remind myself to enjoy the toddler just as much too. With Kian I was trying to make sure he met so many milestones and early and exposed to so much that I feel like I pushed infancy too fast. With Karter I"m really enjoying it much more. Forget the big boy, real clothes, let him be soft and cuddly in baby clothes. He's got a lifetime to wear jeans and walk and talk, right?
9--Keep one outfit per child in your car. And a package of tissues, and previously stated baby carrier. You just never know. I've also been known to leave a water bottle and granola bar in there as well.
10--And waterproof plastic underwear are a lifesaver/pant-saver/car seat-saver when potty training your older child. It's much easier to take off wet undies and throw them in a plastic bag and let him go commando under his pants than have to change entire outfits or run out of pants.
11--receiving blankets double as burp cloths, nursing shields, hats, pillows, just about anything you can think of...probably even a diaper as well!
12--breastfeeding the second child is even better than the first, that's just a lot less to pack and carry in a diaper bag when you're packing for 2 now. Bottles and formula take up too much room and have to be monitored for temperature, etc. but not breast milk.
13--suck it up, swallow the pride and accept the help. Yeah, I'm still working on that one sometimes. I already know I'm not in the running for mother of the year until 2036. When someone asks what you want, tell them a meal. An already cooked, ready to eat meal, and even if that's pizza or fried chicken from the deli, take it! You can get by with re-using all the old baby stuff, but meals are priceless. I only got one, I cherished it (thanks Elissa!).
14--learn your limits. I did tons of cloth diapers with Kian. This time...um, yeah...blush, blush. I spent the money and have only done it a handful of times with Karter...one handful of times. ha. It's more laundry, more time that I just don't want to deal with right now, especially when I was dealing with lots of pee and poop on clothes with potty training Kian. I think I'll just sell them and stop feeling so guilty...
15--a washcloth is just as good as a bath most of the time, and much quicker.
16--making up silly songs about what you're doing (ie changing diapers, getting dressed, washing, picking up toys, etc.) is much more effective and puts everyone in a happier mood then commanding and raising your voice.
17--record these moments, whether by book, video, blog, spiral notebook, you'll want to remember them all, and the funny things your kids say, and take lots of pictures.
Final thoughts--Laugh more. Put the sponge down and put on a silly hat. That's what they'll really remember. Model what you expect. Kids are copycats and imitators, if you want kind words and good behavior, model that. Kids are the best mirrors. Sometimes you have to yell, and that's okay. Sometimes you just have to get in the car and go for a drive, and that's fine too--with or without the kids. =D Just know in the end you're fine, they're fine, we're all fine.