How We Adjusted to Life as a Family of Four

I’m going to be honest; I didn’t read much from parents who have gone from one to two children. I naively thought that it would all be a bit easier than it actually was. I found the first few weeks tough, but we got through it. Although, I don’t think there is much someone could have said to help anyway. Everyone’s families are different and how they cope with a growing family will inevitably be different too.

So, I thought that I would write a little about our experience of going from one to two children.

How Joshua met Oliver – After delivering Oliver, I had to stay in hospital overnight because he needed to get prescribed antibiotics for his kidney condition, be monitored every 4 hours for the first 24 hours, have a few tests and signed off by the consultant. Jamie picked Joshua up from school that day and surprised him with the news that his baby brother had been born – he was ecstatic!

As Joshua walked into the hospital room, I made sure to put all focus on Joshua and give him all the attention he needed to reassure him. It was a massive change – he just had 5 years of being an only child – and I wanted it to go smoothly. I asked Joshua if he wanted to hold Oliver, which he did, and he sat there with him for ages, smiling ear to ear at his new baby brother.

My Little Helper – Joshua very quickly wanted to help out the best he could, so I made sure to involve him in little things like passing me the baby wipes, putting nappies in the wash basket and fetching me muslin cloths. I think it was the little things that helped him get used to our new addition.

I focused on Oliver & Jamie did the rest – When we finally got home, after what felt like an eternity in hospital, I was overwhelmed by the responsibility of having two kids. It suddenly all hit me at once that I couldn’t cope. I remember getting home that first night and Joshua collapsing on the floor in the sitting room exclaiming, “It’s hard work, Dada” because of how flappy I was about getting home and getting Oliver fed.

We didn’t plan it this way, but Jamie took care of Joshua and the house as my brain just couldn’t – I didn’t have the mental space to focus on anything other than Oliver. I feel incredibly guilty about it now, but I honestly forgot about everyone else. I was in my own little bubble with Oliver and didn’t give anyone or anything else a second thought.

I don’t even think I showered for a few days! I didn’t really look after myself properly and when I finally had my first shower after giving birth, it felt awful being away from Oliver. If he made the slightest noise, I felt anxious and got out as quickly as possible.

But everything got easier very quickly. It wasn’t long before I was able to cope with the two kids by myself, housework… the lot! During those first few weeks, I remember thinking that my mental health was maybe going downhill again, like it did after I had Joshua, but thankfully it was just a blip.

We worked as a team… a shit team but a team. Jamie took control of cooking meals, keeping Joshua entertained and happy, made sure that I ate… he did it all so that I could sit on the sofa and look after Oliver, while I eased myself in to balancing everything else.

Closed Door Policy – For the first few days, we didn’t have many visitors at all, so that we could spend time as a new family of four and get settled into a routine. Some new parents may love having visitors and the extra help, but we personally preferred to shut ourselves away for a little while and enjoy our tiny newborn.

Attention-Seeking Behaviour – For the first month or so, Joshua was extremely attention seeking. When the health visitor, midwives or anyone else came by and put the slightest attention onto Oliver, Joshua would act up – even if he was just being weighed. He would be naughty, chuck things, hit people, shout, play loudly, dance around the room… anything he could do to put the focus back onto him – even if it was negative. Joshua was the absolute worst to deal with and spent a lot of time in ‘time out’ for those first few weeks. But after a tough period, he eventually calmed down and realised that everything was okay and that he was still getting everything he needed from us.

Back to Work and School – Oliver was born just before Christmas, so I didn’t have to worry about school runs. Once Joshua started again, Jamie was only home for a few more days, so he did the first few school runs and I did one with him before he went back to work.

How did you cope with going from one to two children? I would love to hear of anything that helped you through the adjustment period.

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