CONTRIBUTED // parenting, the sequel
Having your first child is an adjustment for obvious reasons, but after a while you’ll finally feel like you (somewhat) have a handle on things and you might contemplate having a second child. It’s natural to worry about how having a second child will affect you and your family, so now that I have more than a year under my belt as a mom of two kids, here are the things I’ve discovered:
People don’t get nearly as excited when you announce you’re expecting your second child.
When you tell people you’re expecting your first child, they often get very excited, maybe even jump up and down and shed a few happy tears. But when you tell people you’re expecting your second child, the excitement is much more subdued and you may even get some negative reactions depending on how close together in age your children will be. For example, if your first child is under a year old and you tell people you’re expecting again, you’ll likely get responses like “Really?”, “Did you plan this?” and “You’re going to have your hands full” (thanks captain obvious).
You are more confident in your ability to keep your baby alive.
Now that you’ve had experience with a baby, you’re a lot more confident in what you’re doing and you care less about people criticizing your parenting decisions. Although it’s amazing how quickly you forget things about the newborn stage, even if you have your kids fairly close together.
You’ll encounter new worries and new mom-guilt.
With your first, there are many things to worry about. You want to make sure you’re doing everything right – feeding, sleeping, bathing, etc. But when the second comes along, you’ll now worry about whether you’re spending enough time with the first child since the second child requires so much attention. From what I’ve been told, if you’re worried about whether or not you’re doing a good job, that means you’re doing a good job.
Your “you” time becomes even more rare.
I always looked forward to bedtime because it meant my precious “me” time was near. But I’ve found the odds of getting both kids to bed at the same time is pretty slim. You get one to sleep and the other starts crying and protesting sleep which then wakes the sleeping child. Once you finally do get both kids to sleep, you still have to do things like clean the house, fold laundry and prepare stuff for the next day. And by the time you’re done all that, the night has pretty much come to an end without much time for you.
It’s a roller coaster.
Immediately after your second child is born, things are hectic as you’re adjusting to life with the new member of your family. Then when you get into a good routine, things get easier. When my son was six months old and my daughter was almost 3, I remember naively thinking that having two kids wasn’t nearly as hard as everyone said it would be. And then the baby started crawling and getting into EVERYTHING and I finally understood what everyone was talking about. Now I feel like I’m constantly just running interference trying to keep both kids from getting into stuff, breaking stuff, hurting themselves, hurting others, etc. But I’ve been told it gets easier once they get older and are more self-sufficient. And then it will likely get harder again when they’re both teenagers. Such is the roller coaster of parenting.
Man-to-man coverage isn’t just for sports.
In sports there is a term called man-to-man coverage. It basically means that one person on defense is responsible for covering a specific person on offense. With two children, this is likely a tactic you will use as parents, especially when you go out in public. One parent is assigned to follow one child and the other parent is assigned to follow the other child. Gone are the days of one parent being more relaxed and enjoying themselves while the other parent looks after the child.
With the first child you can’t wait for them to start doing things, but with the second child you don’t want them to start doing things.
With your first child you basically just sit there staring at them, waiting for them to start doing things like rolling over, crawling and walking. But with the second child, you’re more likely to not want them doing those things because it’s so much easier when they’re staying put in one place. And it can also make you sad that they’re growing up so fast, especially if you aren’t planning on having more kids.
You will likely take less pictures and not keep as many records of their progress.
I was adamant that I would take just as many pictures of my second child as I did of my first and that his baby book would be just as full as hers. Yes, I wrong and yes, I feel guilty about it, so I’ll add this to the list of new mom guilt you feel when you have a second child. Even though you’ll have good intentions, you will likely take less photos and that’s ok. Because let’s face it, you probably took absurd number of photos of your first child anyway so it’s not a fair comparison.
Watching your children interact with each other makes it all worth it.
I saved this one for last for good reason – because it makes all the hard times worth it. When you see your children interacting with each other in a positive way, like when the older child makes the younger child laugh or when one child grabs the other’s hand and they adorably hold hands for a brief moment, it melts your heart enough that you tend to forget about all the hard stuff, at least temporarily.
The transition from one child to two is definitely an adjustment and the best advice I can give is to plan for the worst but hope for the best. It will be hard, then it will get easier, and it will get hard again and then easier again. Then one day they will be moved out of the house and not need you for anything and you’ll think back to when they were little and wonder how it all went by so fast.
Melissa Hopper lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two young children. She is the office manager at a publishing company and, formerly a newspaper columnist, but has recently found her passion for writing again after a 10 year hiatus. Melissa is the often snarky voice behind the Instagram account @MommyWifeyWino. She enjoys travelling, being sarcastic and having a good glass of red wine. In addition to writing for adults, Melissa also writes picture books for children.