Guest post: Tips for welcoming baby #3

I met Dana as @civil3diva on twitter. She offered me her best lessons learned that helped make the transition to baby #3 smoother than the one with baby #2. I love her suggestions and I can see myself doing some of them!

I have some hazy but not unpleasant memories of missing sleep and being knee-deep in unwashed onesies when my first child was a newborn. When her baby brother arrived three and a half years later, I was completely unprepared for the mayhem. It seemed easy on paper. I would be “home” while I worked freelance. I greatly underestimated caring for an infant while juggling work, preschool, swimming lessons, music class and even just breakfast for a three year old. My first two are now seven and three and a half. Six weeks ago, we welcomed a new baby brother.

Here are some things I learned from the second baby that have served us well since his arrival:

1. Simplify and Document the Morning Routine.

If possible, have someone else take it over for a few weeks. This has made a huge difference in our household sanity this time around.

I remember finally getting to sleep on the night-shift only to be woken up at 6:30AM by little fingers poking me in the eye. This time, I asked my husband and any visiting family to handle mornings. I’d rather have my spouse take 1 hour of vacation per day to do mornings for six weeks than a solid week off.

We have whiteboards for each big kid that spell out what they need for that day.

We gave everyone low maintenance haircuts and switched breakfast to easy foods that they can reach and don’t generate a lot of dishes like: yogurt, granola bars, cheese sticks, dry cheerios. Our first grader gets up to an alarm clock and gets herself dressed. We sort her laundry into a sweater organizer that contains five days of complete outfits including socks and underwear.

2. Put a bed in the baby’s room

I never saw the point of having two of us completely exhausted in the morning, especially once my husband went back to work, so I didn’t like the idea of having the baby in our room at night. The new baby’s room took our guestroom, so I put a twin bed with storage underneath in there along with the crib. I can sleep near the baby and feed him at night without waking anyone else or walking across the whole house. I know I am not getting much more sleep than I did with the other two, but somehow I feel much more rested. A temporary bed would do the trick, too.

3. Lower expectations

It all looked so easy when I plotted my life out in MS Project. I’d get the big kid to school, feed the baby and write my textbooks while the baby slept. I was stupid enough to think I might even be bored. Instead, I wrote to-do lists like “Laundry, Write a chapter, Get Baby to stop crying, Get myself to stop crying.”

This time, I took as much leave as I could handle without going broke. I asked my husband to take some time off. Last time, I wanted things to remain “normal”- which meant more than once I was dragging my daughter with one hand and carrying the baby in the other while running late to a swimming lesson where she ultimately refused to swim. Nobody seems to mind that we’ve cut back, and we’re all much more relaxed.

I am sure baby number three will kick my rear in all kinds of surprising ways over the next thirty or so years, but I will say that his first six weeks have been very fun. It’s been almost like having a first baby again because our big kids are old enough to feel the joy as well. I’m taking lots of notes so that if I do something stupid, like say, have another one, I can fine tune my systems even more.

Thank you Dana!