Two Kids – the reality of having baby number 2
Are two kids easier than one?
In some ways the answer is a definite yes, two kids are easier than one. Especially as they get older. However, it isn’t easier straight from day one and it definitely isn’t all the time. When you have two kids there is a a very fine line between absolute adoration of your two children and utter desperation. At one moment they are playing or whispering to each other and you feel completely overwhelmed by the love you have for them. The next moment they’re fighting or one is crying and the other is hungry and you just don’t have the energy to process what to do first. Having two kids, especially young kids is a constant rollercoaster of emotions.
This post is an honest account of what it is actually like having two kids. If you’re thinking about it or just realising what its like let me assure you, each and every child is an absolute gift. We’re loaned this little monsters for such a short time and whether you have one or six each is different and incredible in their own right.
Expecting your first
When you’re expecting number 1 your head is in a spin. Everything is new and everything is Unknown (with a capital U).
I remember going into a baby store to get dummies (pacifiers / soothers) and was shocked – in front of me was a wall of choice! I thought I would just go out during my lunch break and pick up a dummy. I did not realise there would be more than 2 brands and within those brands hundreds to choose from.
I was so stunned by this experience I promptly walked out the shop and phoned my husband in a panic.
This time I thought I knew what to expect.
Needless to say, this didn’t happen the second time around. This time I thought I knew what to expect. I would go to the hospital one day, heavily pregnant and the next day I would have a tiny human. I knew what the deal was.
Expecting your Second
During my second pregnancy I had nightmares about having two kids! Everything I thought about in the context of having two kids made me panic.
It sounds silly but I was seriously worried about how to take two children to the shops. How on earth do you put two children in the car and then how do you get them both out? Which child do you take out first? The tiny infant and leave her in the pram in parking or the two year old who would run for the hills in any given situation. This plagued me, my husband was no help at all.
I am now an expert and removing children from the car, thank you very much.*
I found myself asking random strangers I saw had two children the most random questions. I would ask people in the shops which child sat behind them in the car or the lady at the baby shop which child is bathed first. It was embarrassing.
Preparing Your First
Aside from my personal fears I was anxious about how my first born would take the arrival of the second. Imagine the whole world revolves around you and has for your entire existence and then someone else you’ve never met and did not invite rocks up and steals the limelight.
A lot of my energy and attention was focused on my first child during my pregnancy. I was very focused on preparing him for the impending arrival of another. We talked about her, he knew her name and he knew that she was coming to join the team.
It is absolutely imperative that you help your first born understand that they will no longer be the only focus of your world. This is to make sure that when number two arrives there isn’t an immediate animosity. They also have to understand that the thing arriving is actually another person. They need to have set expectations so that they don’t think that a toy or play thing is going to arrive. There are a number of ways in which you can help your first prepare and I will look into putting together another post on this. In short, we read books about it, met other babies, coloured in pictures, talked to her and prepared things for her together.
You do know more! I promise!
The second time around you know what to expect just a little more which means that the actual process of having the baby is much easier. As is the preparation and your mindset.
While every birth is different and every child fundamentally different there are a lot of similarities between how it all effects you and what you’ve actually learnt through raising your first.
I promise you know a lot more that you think you know!
The Little Mistakes
What else is much easier is that you know that the little mistakes which racked you with guilt the first time around are actually not that serious in the long run. You know the “mistakes” of missing bedtime or feeding time by 10 minutes aren’t going to create a flawed child.
You also know that they will bump their heads and it won’t necessarily lead to an impairment.
Mentally, you are generally in a better place with the second one.
The not knowing
The arrival of a second child is also not such a shock to the system. You know sleep deprivation already, you know what its like to not understand your baby’s cries and you know that you can’t go out at the drop of a hat anymore.
Some families manage this but I have no clue how to leave the house in less than 30 minutes.
Two kids means two of everything
However two children means double the admin, double the baths, double the dinners, double the activities.
This lasts until your second is about a year and then things begin to settle as their schedules and routines meet. I think their bodies actually begin to sync just a little.
The Second Year of Two Kids
It finally gets easier
I’ve found that after the first year of exhaustion and the double-trouble the schedules and activities begin to align. The two begin to eat the same things at the same times and play with one another. This is when things really change and it becomes easier.
It’s a Management Issue
The difficulty with having two children is mainly a “management issue”.
If you think about – up until the arrival of number 2 number 1 thought that he was the centre of the universe. Now he has to share his things, his parents, his space with another person. Another person who demands equal, if not more, attention.
You need to manage your first child’s behaviour and expectations while making sure you are paying adequate attention to your newborn.
All it comes down to is Fortune 500 CEO Management Skills. You’ve got to manage the meeting of two worlds like a pro.
The meeting of two little worlds
The way I see it, it is easier enough to have two children (and only have two hands) if you can manage them in their own little worlds without those worlds colliding.
The two worlds meeting is a good thing, think of ‘meeting’ as playing together, bathing in the same bath, eating dinner together. It’s a wonderful thing when those two worlds meet. It is like there is an orchestra in the background playing music made for winners.
Now two worlds colliding is when there is fighting, jealousy and keeping each other awake. All is well in my world when the children’s worlds co-exist or if the worlds meet but when they collide, I have some serious problems.
Our collisions happen when one of our kids is paid more attention than the other, one child is hungry or thirsty, too hot or too cold or tired.
So all I have to do is make sure that they’re paid equal attention (or understand that we have to share things), carry lots of food and water and forty changes of clothing.
Is Two Children Much Harder
At the end of the day, I think having 2 children isn’t harder. Having two kids just requires more planning and more bags.
While it is tough in the beginning, it’s foundation stages. In the beginning you’re learning and building on your understanding of everyones needs. Soon you will blink and things will be pretty cool.
And let me tell you – the moments when you catch them sharing toys or laughing together the whole world stops and is perfect.
Tips for your second pregnancy
- When you are in hospital for the birth of the second, stay there as long as you can. It’s like a hotel, linen changed daily, help with the baby and a good night’s sleep. HOTEL I tell you!!
- Talk to your first born about what is to come. Show them a baby so they know what to expect.
- Talk to your baby, in earshot of your first born, about how wonderful your first born is.
- Make keepsakes of your pregnancy or take pictures – you don’t know if this will be your last.
* I always take the lesser of the escape artists out first.