Parents of multiples often joke that the parenting rules go out the window with each subsequent kid, but if you’ve just welcomed your first kid, it can seem impossible to imagine how that could be. After all, welcoming a brand new baby is undoubtedly the most life-altering thing that could happen to a person, and there’s no playbook for how to do any of it.
Cookbook author (and mom of three boys) Caroline Chambers recently asked some of her fellow mom friends their tips for raising your first kid as if it’s your third kid, with the same earned wisdom and confidence that comes only with time and experience. These women all welcomed their third within weeks of each other, serving as an invaluable support system to each other as they navigated the transition from two to three. (Eek!)
Their thoughts might surprise you, especially if you’re in the stage of parenting one or two babies and you feel utterly exhausted and overwhelmed trying to “get it all right.” Spoiler alert: You’re human, therefore, you will make mistakes all the time. It’s normal, expected, and 100 percent okay.
“Leave the baby,” shares one of Chambers’ mom friends. “Go on a date. It’s good for all parties. Find a reliable babysitter early on that makes you feel comfortable and try to book them as much as possible. You will find yourself skipping out the door.”
“Your husband isn’t the enemy,” adds another. “The baby is the enemy.” (So true!)
No matter what hellish scenario you’re facing, whether it be a sick baby, a series of sleepless nights, seemingly endless temper tantrums, Chambers’ pal sticks by the tried-and-true adage of “this too shall pass.” And we promise, it will!
“Don’t save the chores for naptime,” suggests another. “Kids weirdly love watching you vacuum or playing with the suds while you wash dishes or chop things. Remember they think you and everything you do is magic.”
“Put on your oxygen mask first,” says one. “You can’t take care of your baby if you don’t take care of yourself! Take a shower. Eat delicious meals with lots of greens and proteins. If you feel sad, call your OB and tell her about those feelings. If your jeans don’t fit, go buy bigger jeans that look amazing on you. Get a blowout. Go get lunch or dinner by yourself and read your book with a glass of wine.”
“The four b’s of a bedtime routine (bath, boob/bottle, book, bed) don’t matter,” shares one. “Dunked in the bath once a week, they are FINE. Thriving!”
Lastly — and perhaps most importantly — laugh it off whenever possible. Yes, even if they poop all over everything or you forget the only toy that keeps them chill at home. As tough as it can be in those tiny moments when it feels like everything is falling apart, a little bit of laughter can provide some much-needed levity, helping you to navigate the ups and downs as if you’re a seasoned pro. In case no one’s told you today, you’ve got this, mama! You’re doing great.