As I write this, I am less than two weeks away from the birth of my second child. Life as I know it now will be dramatically different once the new child is born. In some ways, I will re-learn what it means to be a parent, as all children are different. My expectations will break and reform as I navigate the world of raising both a toddler and an infant. I will need to help my elder daughter cope with this dramatic transition. I have no idea when I’m supposed to sleep during all of this. There’s only one thing I know for certain: things will change, and not always in the way I expect them.
I call these periods before dramatic change the “calm before the storm.” We’ve all experienced them. Leaving for college, changing jobs, coping with relationship changes, and many other situations can create these little pockets of borrowed time. There are two general facets to dealing with them: “enjoy your last moments of familiarity” vs. “prepare yourself for change.”
Enjoy Your Last Moments of Familiarity
Sometimes the best way to cope with looming change is to enjoy what you have now. Close your mind. Live in the moment. It may be the last time you will be able to enjoy this situation.
I’ve gone through my fair share of enjoying my last moments with only one child. I’m reading and playing with my daughter as much as I can, since I know that will be more difficult once the baby is born. Our family has gone on a lot of little day trips to enjoy new things together while we’re still a threesome and mobility is not an issue. I’ve minimized my consulting business to a few key contracts so I can relax more in the evenings, rather than worry about work during family time.
The advantages of enjoying your last moments can make the transition easier. You know you did your best to appreciate what you had before your life changed. You can navigate your old comfortable routine to do things you enjoy, knowing you will have less time after the change has happened. This can make your new life more bearable as you are thrust into the chaos of change.
Prepare Yourself for Change
Of course, preparing yourself for change can help ease the transition as well. Exploring what life will be like after change can a foreign situation more relatable. You can anticipate problems and adapt faster once change hits. Doing prep work when you are more relaxed can also mean fewer tasks you have to fulfill once you’ve entered your new life.
Even though I’ve gone through giving birth and raising an infant before, I’ve gone back and revisited some of my old parenting books to remind myself what it’s like raising a newborn. I’ve talked to parents of multiple children to get advice on how to deal with two children instead of one. We’ve rearranged our house to fit one more child. Even though my elder daughter is only 2, I’ve attempted to introduce the concept of having a sibling to her, so the situation doesn’t hit her completely out of the blue. All of this work should help ease the transition when I bring the baby home.
These Methods are not Mutually Exclusive
By now, my personal example should show that you don’t have to choose one method over the other. You can both enjoy your last moments and prepare for change at the same time. The challenge is determining how much of one or the other you should use. This will all depend on your personality, the type of change, and many other factors specific to your situation.
If you need more personalized advice on how to cope with imminent change, it often helps to talk to others who have gone through it before. Internet support groups and peers can be great for this kind of feedback. However, just because one person dealt with change one way doesn’t mean you need to do the same. At the end of the day, listen to your gut and make the best decisions that pertain to you.
If you have any advice on utilizing your “calm before the storm” time, please write them for others in the comments below.
Photo by Atilla Kefeli