I was so excited, and anxious, about having a second child. My first-born was getting to a place where, at three years old, he was getting easier by the day. He was way more independent and we could finally leave the house without making it a big ordeal. We got to a place where he was so easy that it made it hard to think about rocking the boat and adding to our family. We decided we either have another baby right away or we miss the window and get comfortable with having an only child.
My husband and I both grew up with a brother and a sister, so the thought of giving him a sibling was very important. We were also so excited to see how he would be as a big brother.
Then there were the questions in the back of mind … How would my son feel when I wasn’t able to give him the attention he was so used to getting up to this point? How would I juggle two kid’s needs at the same time? How would adding to the family rock our very stable boat? And the big question, how could I possibly love another child as much as I loved my son?
Even with all the doubt we decided to go for it and bring another little miracle into the world. What I learned after that has changed my life. For me, the transition from one to two kids was the harder than going from zero to one. Nothing will ever be the same but it is the best thing that has happened to our little family.
Here are a few of the things I learned …
You are on ALL THE TIME now! Now, there is always someone needing you; your help, your attention, and your love. Not to mention time-consuming tasks expand exponentially. Who knew there could be so much laundry to do, garbage to take out, or food to clean off the floor? As your kids get older you double the activities you are rushing out the door to get to.
Your little one will look up to your oldest, no matter how the oldest treats him or her. It is so funny to see my second child laugh as he gets knocked over by my oldest. Getting hit in the face with a ball, no big deal. My oldest can do no wrong in my youngest’s eyes. He follows my oldest around like a puppy. He is willing to do anything and put up with anything just to play with him. This year has been tricky with my oldest in preschool. We drop him off and I have to drag my youngest out of the classroom each time kicking and screaming because he wants to stay.
There is no one who can calm my youngest down like his older brother can. We quickly learned if our youngest was upset or hurt we needed to get his older brother. He makes funny faces or gets up in his face and talks to him in these cute, soothing tones and all is right in the world again. It blows my mind to see how it works.
Your oldest child can be sweeter and more nurturing than you ever imagined. There is nothing in the world better than seeing your oldest become a big sibling. On our way home from the hospital our newborn started crying. Our oldest sang songs to him the entire 20 minute drive home to ‘make him feel better’. When we got home from the hospital our oldest asked why his brother was crying again, to which we replied ‘because he is hungry’. Our oldest sprinted up the stairs and grabbed ALL of his play food from his little kitchen and lay it all around his brother ‘so he wouldn’t be hungry anymore’. The bond is a strong one and it truly starts from day one.
Your first-born will regress. It took all of his energy to be helpful and gentle with his new brother that he acted out in other ways. For us, it was potty training. He was fully potty trained when his brother came along but he started having accidents pretty consistently soon after. It always coincided with how he treated his new brother. If my oldest was particularly sweet to his brother all day you could be sure he was either going to go to the bathroom in his underwear or get really sassy with us. It was his way of dealing with this incredibly major change in his life. The nice part is, once your child gets past the adjustment period he or she will be back to normal
No two kids are the same. When I was pregnant I just pictured a mini version of my oldest coming out of me (to be fair it was the only reference I had to guess what my newborn would be like). And in fact for about a month he looked just like him … but very quickly you realize how different your kids are. For example, my oldest loved being in his car seat. He fell asleep the second we started moving, whether it was in the car or a stroller. As long as we kept moving he stayed asleep for hours on end. My second was the opposite. Being in his car seat made him MAD! Screaming bloody murder from start to finish on any car ride we took, no matter how long. Having a second child is like starting from scratch in a way, they all need different tricks and tools.
Babies are durable. No matter how much you coach your toddler to be gentle, your second child will get so many bumps and bruises you will want to hide them so people don’t start to wonder 🙂
Kids feed off each other. When one acts naughty the other one follows suit. When one cries so does the other. Luckily it also works with silly behavior too! Here is an example of my boys the other night,
Getting your kids to nap at the same time is something you will do anything in your power to make it happen … and it rarely will. We had a magical first two months where most days our newborn was sleeping at the same time our oldest was napping. It was amazing. But as our newborn became more alert and stopped sleeping 24/7 we were lucky if we got the two to take a solid nap at the same time once a week. Kids have a knack for waking up right as the other one is finally getting to sleep.
You will leave the house with less. The Luvs diaper commercial always makes me laugh because it is spot on. You get to see the first kid/second kid shift in parenting style. Scene with just one kid: Leaving the house mom packs up everything she owns. Scene two with two kids: Leaving the house with baby in the front carrier, a diaper, and some cereal could not be more accurate.
You can love another child as much as your first-born. Your second baby will steal your heart the second he or she comes into the world. It just happens, you will feel so much love your heart might explode. The mama bear comes out in full force and now there are two kids you would do ANYTHING to protect
Your oldest will seem SO MUCH OLDER overnight. We came home from the hospital after three days alone with a little newborn and saw our three-year old with new eyes. He seemed to grow up overnight while we were gone. He truly seemed like he had doubled in size and had matured beyond his age in such a short time.
It is very hard to give your full attention to either child most of the time. Your guilt will get worse, wondering ‘am I giving my kids enough attention?’ Your first will adjust and get used to the new normal, and they just got a new buddy who in a year or two will give them more attention that they could ever want.
You will divide and conquer as parents. Instead of both of you being able to focus on one child you are both pulled in different directions. Most of the time your kids will need or want something different at the same time. When the kids are young it can be hard to make your relationship a priority and you have to work hard to make time for each other as a couple.
Sleep deprivation takes on a whole new meaning. You will reach a whole new level of tired. Remember, when you get one to sleep the other wakes up. People always say nap when your baby naps but with a toddler running around this becomes a thing of the past. You may not be at the top of your game for a little while but it is so worth it in the end and is such a short time in the grand scheme of things.
Life gets busier with two kids. I scheduled my whole life around my first-born’s sleep schedule. I made sure he always had enough time to get all the sleep he needed. Now he is a toddler who has play dates and school and activities up the wazoo so we are on the go all the time. My second is lucky to get a nap in his own bed, let alone at the same time each day. Poor baby number two, right?!? No, because it makes them stronger and I really think it contributes to the second born tendency to be more flexible and go with the flow.
You learn to trust your instincts. You have a better idea now what is an emergency and what can be dealt with at home. At this point your oldest has probably experienced many of the major illnesses so you usually have an arsenal on hand to deal with any and every symptom. You also know in your heart when something is off. For example, I had an inkling that my youngest wasn’t hearing everything the way he should be. No one around me agreed but I was adamant he get checked out. In the end we found he had liquid in his ears and had mild hearing loss leading us to get tubes put in his ears. Listen to your gut.
You realize you forgot a lot of things you learned with your first. I went through this a lot with my second. How long can I leave my breast milk out again? What kind of fever needs to concern you again? When did he first roll over? Thank God for the internet!
You can handle more than you thought possible. You are strong, both mentally and physically. Having two kids will make you realize this time and time again as you deal with the constantly changing demands.
Your idea of a clean house changes. Kid’s toys seem to take over all living spaces. While you are picking one toy up six more are being taken out. Words of wisdom I still need to practice myself … only clean up once a day, or you will spend all day following your kids around cleaning and not enjoying your time with them.
Two kids can entertain each other, at least for a little while. I love watching my boys play cars together, vrooming around the room, making their cars soar through the air. Watching them snuggle each other while they watch TV as I cook, or seeing them wrestle with each other before bed, laughing uncontrollably, still makes my heart melt.
Baby cries are nothing compared to a loud toddler. I remember rushing to my first-born’s side every time he let out, what I thought to be, the loudest cries ever. I was frazzled by any crying fit he had, embarrassed in public, doing all I could to quiet him down. Now I hear a baby cry and think, awww how cute, because I now have the loud toddler yelling ‘ Mommy mommy mommy’.
Mealtimes suck! Now there are two people who demand to eat NOW, can refuse to eat anything you make them, throw food on the floor, etc. Need I say more?
There is nothing better than watching my kids play and laugh and grow together. My whole world changed and I cannot help but feel blessed. I look at my children and know there is good in the world. They are what keeps me going, striving for better. They introduced a love that is deeper and more pure than any love I’ve ever known and I cannot thank them both enough for being my light in the world!
Thanks for letting me share my experience with you! I would love to hear about yours …
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