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How to prepare for a second child

Parents - you may remember doing a lot of Google searching when you were expecting your first baby; the list of questions grows every day and by the end of the pregnancy we can feel like we’ve done enough reading to write a thesis on the topic! But what about the second time around? This is an interesting area because you’re no longer a ‘new’ parent and you’ve got some real world experience to apply for the sibling. But that doesn’t mean you should be expected to know everything. If there’s any reasonable gap between baby one and baby two, there are likely to be things about newborns that you need to‘re-learn’ to some extent.

Beyond actually coping with the new baby, there’s changes when a family of 2 or 3 becomes 3 or 4 - and so on. Today we’ll look at some of these changes and how you might best prepare for these. Before we get into it just make sure you are kind to yourselves as parents - no one expects you to be perfect juggling two kids straight away so don’t put too much pressure on yourself!

Luckily, there’s tons of information about having a second child online. Resources like Kiwi Families along with community groups are great to build an idea of what you’re in store for with #2 - both in the way of handy hints and the odd horror story! Just remember that all families are different so while you can apply plenty of tips you read, your journey will be unique to your family.

Preparing your first child...for the second: Inclusion!

If you have a young child from about the age of 1, you also need to adequately prepare them for the arrival. Don’t underestimate this job; they’ve been the centre of your universe for their whole life and it’s hard for a small child to grasp the imminent changes awaiting them. Keep up communication with your child about the excitement of having a sibling and the important job of being an older brother/sister. Many parents opt for getting children's books about becoming a sibling. There are plenty of choices - start with your local library.

Make sure that you include them in activities that involve preparing for the new addition like clothes shopping or bedroom renos.

The inclusive approach should continue once the baby arrives - the more responsibility and inclusion your eldest has, the more part of the team they’ll feel. Making this effort will pay off when you need to solely focus on your infant.If they’re the right age, you might want to consider getting them their own toy baby to care for and feed - you can both ‘feed’ and ‘change’ your babies together.

Some degree of jealousy is unavoidable, however. When it does arise, a calm, reassuring chat will go a lot further than punishing bad behaviour. If possible, dedicate parts of the week where you can spend time with your eldest child solely, even for a few hours. Keep up as many routines you had before the new baby so your eldest doesn’t feel like everything has changed at once.

Getting the finances in order

Good budgeting and sensible spending are important regardless of where you’re at in life, but as parents this is essential. With a second child arriving, the shopping bill may be impacted with nappies, formula, the bulk pack of washing powder. The power bill might also increase with more washing, drying, heating, dehumidifying and bathing that will be going on.

If you have any monthly expenses that simply aren’t needed like subscriptions to services you don’t use, now’s a good time to do a bit of a clean out. Very quickly you may find an extra $50 a month that can support the change to grocery or power bills.

As always a budget needs to be written out and kept to by all adults in the home - otherwise it’s unlikely to really make a difference.Once you’ve done your budget you’ll have a clear idea of what you have left over each month. You might try to work to this budget before the new baby arrives, to both make sure it’s adequate.

Some parents will look to clear as much debt as possible before the new baby, and many of us will do a big sell-off of items we don’t need anymore.

If you’re working currently, you will need to think about parental leave and what that means for the family budget. How long do you plan to have off?What other support is available?

Readying the home

‘Nesting’ is part of the exciting process of becoming parents. For a second child, there will be a level of home preparation required - especially if the first child no longer has any requirements of a baby like safety gates, changing table, rocker, plug socket covers etc.

With children at different stages, it can be a bit tricky striking a good balance. Try to keep a dedicated space where your eldest child can play within sight from where you have the newborn based. Keeping a nice clear floor space and any hazards out of the way is key to everyone moving around the home without stress.

While it’s easy to just suggest moving to a larger house, not all families are in a position to do this. This is when some creative thinking about home layout and space saving comes into play. Channeling your internal Marie Kondo, declutter as many items as possible, whether that’s selling, donating or recycling. Anything not used anymore without any sentimental value is simply clutter and will collect dust and make a home feel smaller.

Transport!

One child doesn’t usually cause too much disruption in terms of the car you already own - unless you’re a convertible type of person. But two children can make a small car look tiny.

It’s not necessarily the children themselves that do this, but all the equipment that comes along with them. Baby bags, extra or larger pram, along with the loss of a back seat previously used for the weekly groceries means that you might need to consider whether your vehicle will be right for your needs.

If a change of car simply isn’t in the budget, there’s some creative ways to free up space in your current car:

  • Do a clean out - even rubbish and small bits and pieces on the floor and boot can make the vehicle feel more spacious
  • Choose equipment that’s light and compact.
  • Travel light as possible - a trip to the supermarket might not need a pram or large baby bag to come - just some essentials.
  • Use the front seat for items when it’s just one parent travelling. Most front seats offer a fair bit of space on the floor in front and on the seat - just don’t overload this to become a hazard to driving.

If you are considering purchasing a new car, first find out what your current vehicle is worth - do your internet research to get a range. Selling the vehicle privately will often get you more out of it, but there is the admin of advertising and viewings to arrange. Otherwise many car dealerships offer trade ins - just shop around for quotes and understand the difference in value you’ll get vs. private sale.

On the purchasing side, you’ll want to get any vehicle without a warranty (such as from a dealer) inspected closely by a good mechanic before committing. Make sure that the larger vehicle is still safe, mechanically sound and good to drive. Family vehicles with high kms may be getting sold for reasons that might cause you some head aches so don’t take shortcuts on the inspection.

If you’ve kept the capsule from your first-born and are intending to use this for the second child, make sure you check the expiration date on the unit - these are designed to prevent usage of capsules that will have lost structural integrity or safety from plastic or other components wearing over time. Safety standards also change, so models are released with this considered. Baby capsules for sale now do offer more in the way of safety features and quality than ever before, but if you don’t want to commit to a purchase, look at hiring from a reputable baby store.

For walks, you’ll need to consider if the eldest child still needs to be in a stroller/pram for any amount of time once the newborn arrives. If they do, you can find out if there’s an attachment to your current unit that accommodates both at once (e.g. capsule up top for baby and standard seat underneath for eldest.

Confirming legal guardianship

With a second child, you need to consider if the guardian/s you’ve nominated to care for your eldest child will be in a position to take care of two kids. This is a conversation you need to have with them, and be okay with whatever the answer is. The earlier you do this, the more time you’ll have to plan out the best approach if the unthinkable happens.

Updating or getting life insurance

Having a life insurance policy in place is all about caring for your loved ones even after you’re gone. Much like a guardianship is a big decision that will impact your children’s lives and upbringing, a life insurance policy can provide some financial security that you’d

otherwise not be able to give.

If you have a current life insurance policy, consider contacting your insurer about updating it to reflect your new child.

Don’t yet have life insurance or interested in a new provider? Cigna NZ has a team of insurance specialists that can work with you to understand your cover needs - life, trauma, income protection and anything else to give your family peace of mind. That way you can focus on the important stuff - welcoming the new arrival, and enjoying your family.

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