Having two kids can be a real thrill. Honestly I did find the wild transition from 1 to 2 a lot more difficult than 0 to 1. With just one, you can put all of your time and focus on him/her. There is no divide of that time, energy, and love. They consume your mind and your heart, no question. The second child isn’t the full focus like the first was, but they absolutely hold a significant place in the family as well as in your heart. They learn to go with the flow of everything a lot more easily because they were born into a rhythm that was already in place.
Things inevitably change once you and your partner find out you’re expecting. Throughout pregnancy, I learned about some of the demand from another tiny person I already adored. Preparing for their arrival, doctor appointments, and so on. We were already no longer a family of three, but we adapted and made room. We were open to all the changes, it was an era left behind, but a new and extremely exciting chapter for our family.
Here are some useful lessons if you’re considering becoming a mama of two:
1. Physically tougher, mentally easier:
So the great thing is that you’ve done this before. You won’t be second guessing yourself as much. You may not have had to parent two kids at the same time before, but at least you’re not totally new to it all in the world of motherhood. Mentally it’s much easier in that aspect. Of course you’ll have to adapt and I’ll get there in a moment with my second point, but you won’t be rushing those milestones. You can enjoy them as they are and you’ll remember what it was like with your first. The time passes even faster knowing what to expect and you won’t want them to get any bigger. Physically you’ll find it’s more difficult. The grocery shopping is complicated and you might have to go with your partner or do separate trips for certain items. More time spent putting the kids in their car seats and getting them out. More things to remember to pack for trips. Life is more of a balancing act and it changes hourly.
2. No amount of practice will create the perfect parent:
The second kid is nothing like the first, so in this way it can feel like you’re starting over. I think it’s more fun than terrifying, but it’s all about perspective. Just as they roll with the punches better, you will too by getting to know one another in time. You very well may have to parent your kids differently and that’s okay. You will realize that the same things you did to discipline your first may not work when disciplining your second. Their actions and reactions will be different to most things and parenting involves adaptation anyway no matter if you have 1 or 12 children, but it’s a lesson worth mentioning.
3. Accept the help:
I had to stop hammering myself over believing somehow I have to juggle it all. That instantly went out the window the day my daughter Fern arrived. You see, there is nothing wrong with asking or accepting offered help. If you think about it from this perspective, with help you and your kids needs can be met more easily. You DON’T have to do it all. You’re technically outnumbered at this point when it’s just you with them. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your mom or friends. Ask your partner to help out more. Have him pitch in to do more housework or to give you a break by watching the kids while you take some time for you. Self-care is extremely important even though your time is cut even shorter these days.
4. Do your best to talk through baby #1's emotions- AKA jealousy :
It’s been a turning point in raising my first after the arrival of our second daughter because she was 2 years and 8 months old when Fern was born and jealousy developed even before then. I’ve had to learn how to get my oldest through the hurt she feels over my divided attention. This is my least favorite about this transition because I couldn’t help but feel guilty. That and I had no clue how to handle those moments. Sometimes her jealousy comes in the form of her reverting back into a baby. I simply do my best to help talk her through her emotions.
5. Embrace the good along with the not so good- your kids are playmates everyday:
Even when Fern was her tiniest, Rosie entertained her. Even still two months later she will jingle her toys in front of her to get her to coo, laugh, and smile. It’s a truly beautiful thing to witness the blossoming of their sisterhood. What’s also a beautiful thing is that means you can be left to possibly get more done for yourself or around the home, whatever it may be during the time they’re distracted by each other. It’s no longer just the sole relationship of your first and you. They forever have a pal, a partner in crime. I know there will be plenty of occasions where they won’t get along or will be fighting over something, but embrace the good along with the not so good.
6. Letting things go:
You’re so indulged in raising two that you have got to lower those standards. It was easiest to keep house before having any kids, having one it’s not so bad keeping up, so naturally when #2 comes along you have to be easy on yourself. It really just isn’t the season of life to be striving for perfection. Whatever will make things flow better for you, do it. Create that list to help break down those chores you may have done all in one day and spread it out over the course of a week if need be.
Photo credits: Heather Nicholson