When my first child was born, my entire world revolved around her. She was my everything—the first thing I thought of in the morning, my all-consuming thought while I was away at work, and the person I rushed home to each evening. My weekends were filled with her (and her daddy, of course), and life was so much sweeter because she existed. Then my husband and I found out that soon she would no longer be our only. She was being promoted to big sister! A new baby, our second child, was on the way, and things were going to change. And change they did, even before little brother officially arrived. Throughout my pregnancy, my daughter and I learned that someone new was calling the shots. We had a little partner in crime already demanding attention and love and adoration. My morning sickness took a toll on us both, and then the eagerness of preparing for a new baby filled our time. Together we began imagining and planning for what life would be like as a family of four. And when my son made his debut early one summer day, everything changed…again. We were no longer a family of three. We had an extra person to love and care for. We made space—in our home and hearts. We adjusted to a new personality. We welcomed the change, but it was a change that took grace and patience. A second child is very different from the first. They enter a family that already has a rhythm. They aren’t the first, the full focus, but they do hold a special place and purpose within the family structure. The time and attention due to them is shared, and they learn quickly to roll with the punches…or demand that the punches roll in their favor. Since having a second child, I—along with many other parents in the same boat—have learned so much. What we thought we knew, what we thought we could bank on without a doubt, has been altered. Life threw us for a loop with the arrival of a second blessing, and once our heads stopped spinning we were able to embrace the chaos that a second little one brings. I’ve yet to hear someone say it’s simple (it’s definitely not!), but everyone agrees that it’s worth it. That new little person in your family? They’re a gem. A unique soul who fills the family with charm and delight. It takes time to learn who they are and what they need and how they fit in, but it all comes together eventually. It’s reassuring to hear what other families have learned since having a second child. It means I’m not alone, and it means you’re not alone either. We’re in this parenting gig together! Here’s a peek at things a handful of other moms and I have learned since having a second child…
1. It has a lot to do with math.
More kids means you’re technically outnumbered. But don’t be too scared. More kids also means your love multiplies. Total win! Megan S. agrees. She tells HealthyWay: “Despite your fears, you can definitely love your second as much as you love your first. The fear is REAL. But after that sweet second baby is in your life, the fear is gone.” I remember all too well having this fear during my second pregnancy. Life feels normal with one child. Your love is full and real, and the idea of fitting in another little human is overwhelming. But just like the miracle of pregnancy, when that second child is born, a new miracle happens—birth of new love for that new little one. Unfortunately, while your love multiplies, your time divides. You learn to cope with it, but it’s a practice in patience for everyone. And patience is a worthwhile lesson for moms, dads, kid No. 1, and kid No. 2, too.
2. Life is easier.
Jasmine H. knows the key to making life with two children easier: “rest and ask for help.” Amen to that! Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to do it all. Take life in strides. Be there for your kids’ immediate needs. Let things go. Have fun. Life can actually become easier with two kids. It’s all about perspective.
With my first I chased after the next milestones so feverishly, but with my second … I’m far more interested in enjoying the present, because I know how quickly it will become the past.
I love what Alissa H. has to say about life becoming easier with the addition of a second little one. In regard to having a second child she jokes, “Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Get a ‘professional’ to play Legos, dolls, army, trucks, hide and seek…while mom gets to read a book! #Playmate.” Isn’t that the truth! My first two children, although not always best friends, are genuine playmates. All day every day they have each other, and as soon as one isn’t around, the other misses their buddy. Often, a second child isn’t physically easier, but because of our ever-growing and changing perspective as parents, it becomes emotionally easier. Taren D. shares her experience with HealthyWay: “[With the second I] trust myself more as a parent, and I enjoy each phase of baby and toddlerhood for what it is. With my first I chased after the next milestones so feverishly, but with my second (and now third) I’m far more interested in enjoying the present, because I know how quickly it will become the past.”
3. Life is harder.
Honestly, for me at least, the ease of life with two is balanced with the hard stuff. It comes and goes, day by day, hour by hour. Traci V. understands my plight, especially when it comes to juggling a baby and a toddler. She recalls, “One was a breeze (even though it didn’t feel like it at the time…seriously, you can take ONE kid ANYWHERE!)” I have vivid memories of one of my first grocery store outings when my son was about a week old. I put my daughter in the front of the cart and my son in his car seat in the basket. Suddenly there was no room for groceries! I got the bare essentials and texted my husband that he would need to buy some of the larger, bulk items or watch the kids while I ran out later that evening.
4. You officially know nothing.
The second child is never like the first. You’re starting all over again! It’s frightening. And kind of fun, I suppose. This new baby is a brand new person, unlike the first in 100+ ways. You get to know them, learn from them, and be a whole new parent to them. Get ready for a wild ride! In reference to the wildness of two, Jennifer B. says that “the transition from one to two is SERIOUSLY underestimated! Having my first was relatively easy, adding in a second rocked our little family’s world. Also, you realize how precious each developmental stage is, how fast that infant stage really does go. I always say to new parents not to rush their baby. That first one, you can’t wait for them to do something new, with the second you don’t want them to do anything!!!” This is 100 percent true. I remember aching for my daughter to learn to crawl. And it was eight long months before she did. Then, with my son, I wanted nothing more than for him to stay stationary. Rolling and sitting was just fine, I could contain him that way, but I knew once he really started moving I was in trouble. (Of course, he learned to crawl at just six months, and things haven’t slowed down since.)
5. Self-care goes out the window.
Think you didn’t get alone time before? Now it’s practically nonexistent. I remember when my daughter was little, my husband and I would take turns running errands with her so the other could have some “me” time. Now, as Lynette V. says, “It’s zone defense!” The good news is, the lack of self-care and freedom is a short-lived season. You fall into a rhythm and learn to adjust. By the time my second’s first birthday arrived, I remember deeply sighing and realizing that we had made it. Life felt somewhat normal, and I got ready (hair, makeup, real clothes) more often than not. It was no longer overwhelming for my husband to take on both kids, and not only were we enjoying family time more thoroughly, we were tagging one another for much needed alone time too.
6. Spacing can be magical.
Deborah W. thinks two kids are absolutely great because “siblings make the best friends!” And it’s true. Think back to your own childhood. Wasn’t it wonderful having someone around to play, banter, and adventure with?
He protects her, teaches her, and loves her
And really, no matter the spacing between your first and second child, it can be pure magic. These two moms know it all too well…just from opposite sides of the spectrum. Charise F. reminisces, “Having my first and second less than a year apart was mega hard in the beginning, but now I couldn’t imagine it any other way. They’re perfect for each other and the very best of friends.” On the flip side, Leah W. says, “My son was 5 when his sister was born. Although they won’t grow up liking the same toys and such, I’ve never witnessed a more loved or cherished baby. He protects her, teaches her, and loves her with a vengeance! It’s beautiful to witness.”
7. Practice doesn’t make perfect.
Just because you’ve successfully parented one child so far, that doesn’t mean your efforts will pay off with round two. I mean, they might. But I spent most of my son’s first year apologizing to my daughter and my husband. It was just a lot to juggle and I always felt like I was letting someone down.
Sibling love is so precious and watching your oldest teach something … to your youngest is priceless!
Birth order plays into this quite a bit, in my opinion. Second-born children just have different personalities. It’s not something we can anticipate or adapt to before it comes to fruition, and often it’s just better to go with the flow. Lyndsy M. channels our favorite Disney girl, Queen Elsa, saying, “Let it go. Adding a second kid really allows for a focusing in on what’s most important and all the other stuff can slip away. When they both get a little older and communicate with each other it is then that you see the real impact of your parenting! Sibling love is so precious, and watching your oldest teach something (whether [it’s] how to build a faster race track or how in our family we do things ‘this way’) to your youngest is priceless!”
8. It just might give you baby fever.
Last, but not least…think two kids is enough? Just wait until your baby isn’t such a baby anymore, and No. 3 might pop up on your radar! That’s what eventually happened in our family. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!