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For everything that felt like it went wrong with the labor and delivery of our first child, everything felt like it fell into place perfectly with our second. It was a great experience and we realized so much more of our birth plan.
Yet, he came a week early. My work to prepare for maternity leave wasn’t quite yet wrapped up and as a self-employed mom to a 2.5-year-old already, that impacted things.
I got important emails during early labor. It was a Friday and people were trying to wrap things up before the weekend. That’s exactly what I thought I’d be doing – wrapping things up to make for a relaxing 6-week maternity leave for myself.
My husband had to remind me to close my email app on my phone and focus on that task at hand. There wasn’t much I could do from a hospital room anyway.
Responding to emails and sharing that our baby had arrived went better than I expected. Most people have been very understanding and given me tons of space and time to adjust to this new life.
But as a self-employed mom, there are still activities and work to do that just can’t wait until after my 6 weeks of maternity leave.
Thankfully, my husband has been amazing through it all. And we’re learning and growing together through becoming a family of four. Here are some of the things I’ve learned from welcoming my second child while self-employed.
Rest is important but so is some routine
My commitment to myself was always to give myself a solid two weeks of recovery. Resting is a challenge for me though. I’d rather be up and accomplishing things than just sitting around.
Yet, with a new baby, there’s never any true sitting around. Feeding, bonding and adjusting are all big tasks that I think new moms don’t give themselves enough credit for.
Get takeout. Eat off of paper plates. And just enjoy these teeny tiny baby days. They escape so fast.
Keeping some mild routines has helped us all keep our sanity while we’re home and enjoying this time. Though I couldn’t lift my toddler in and out of his crib, I could still read him books before naptime to help bring some normalcy to our days.
We’ve enjoyed family walks after dinner to get outside and return to moving. And instead of returning to work in the evenings after my toddler goes to bed like I had for several months to prep for maternity leave, we’ve enjoyed some time just relaxing and getting to know our new little guy.
Toddler adjustments after welcoming a new baby
I knew things would be challenging for my toddler who loves routine. But I think I underestimated just how hard it would be for him.
We’ve had way more outbursts and poor behavior than I anticipated. But two weeks in, we’re starting to see some good improvements. Slowly, he’s adjusting and starting to talk out his emotions instead of just melting.
I think we have many more months of adjusting ahead of us with our toddler. Returning to normal routines will help and showing him that he still gets one-on-one time with us will also be impactful.
Our biggest takeaways from the experience are:
- Encourage the toddler to talk about what’s going on
- Make time for alone time with them
- Get down on their level to talk and play even more than before
- Avoid saying we can’t do something because of the baby
- Offer alternatives when we really can’t do something with him because of the baby
- Find ways to include him in the care of the baby (i.e., feeding baby a bottle, throwing away dirty diapers, talking to him when he’s crying, etc.)
- Providing even more patience even during tantrums to help solve problems instead of punishing behavior
Remembering how to work with an infant
My first was not a snuggler at all. And our breastfeeding journey had been rocky at best, which meant the convenience of bottle feeding him and others being able to help.
Now I have a snuggler who always wants to be with me. It’s sweet, but also takes some time to remember the tricks I developed with my first to get work done while caring for a little person. And my second baby loves breastfeeding, which means getting creative to make that time productive too.
I’m remembering how helpful the Boppy is in allowing me to keep the baby close while typing (in fact, that’s where the baby is as I write this). Babywearing has been a helpful tool and I couldn’t love my Moby sling more than I do because of how well it cradles and holds my little guy close.
I know the days will come when my boys will be best friends. Someday, this baby won’t want to be held or need to breastfeed. This first year flies by so I’m doing all I can to soak in these precious early days and 6 weeks of maternity leave with my little ones before returning to work and looking to stay disciplined to work around their schedule to make work-at-home mom life enjoyable and beneficial.