Going From One To Two Kids—What You Should Know

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
9:00 am
06/29/16

Photographed by Sabrina Bot

For those of you thinking about having a second child, currently pregnant with #2, or in the early days and months of balancing a newborn and an older child, there are a plethora of concerns surrounding the topic of going from one to two kids. Which of these concerns materialize and which don’t? What are the major pros and cons? We asked 13 mothers of two to spill the beans on what it’s really like to raise a duo. Here’s what you should know, straight from the horse’s mouth.

The Biggest Concerns:
-“Going back to a newborn schedule—being sleep deprived again and nursing every two hours.”
-“Who would look after my #1 when I gave birth to #2?!”
-“That it’s double the work.”
-“I was concerned about not spending enough time with my first child before bringing in the second.”
-“Jealous feelings from our first child.”
-“I was worried that I would regret it. My first son was 4 when we started trying and we had such a good rhythm and routine down. I was worried that having a baby would upset the apple cart more than I could handle and that I would resent the new baby.”
-“The cost of having a family of four versus a family of three.”
-“My biggest concern was that I would have a difficult newborn and wouldn’t be able to work (from home) for 6 months. Instead, I got a sleepy puppy and started working 4 days after he was born. I didn’t feel guilty either, because he was sleeping and we had family that came to help watch my first son.”
-“Not enough space in our home.”
-“I knew I wanted to have a second kid all along, but I didn’t actually want to be pregnant again.”
-“Traveling.”
-“Having enough quality time with each of them. Toddlers are so demanding, and I was concerned that the new baby would get short changed.”
-“I was heartbroken about losing the bond with my baby boy #1.”
-“It really felt like our little trio had struck a pretty great balance between family time, work time, time for our marriage, and time for ourselves, and that was something that felt really scary to upend when we decided to have another kiddo.”

The Biggest Challenges (That Materialized):
-“Bed time—putting both to bed at the same time is crazy.”
-“Giving both children one-on-one quality time with each parent.”
-“Parenting kids in different stages and juggling their very different needs.”
-“Playing fair when they fight.”
-“Doubling the cost on almost everything you buy or spend on.”
-“Getting out the door in a timely manner without forgetting something and not looking like a total slob.”
-“Healing from child birth while having a toddler and a newborn is rough.”
-“I didn’t realize how it was going to tax my relationship with my husband. We went from being able to have one parent with one kid and the other parent free when one of us had to do something or be somewhere or wanted to exercise or go out with friends, etc. With two, for one parent to be free you’re either loading the other parent up with two kids or often paying for childcare (if you don’t have family around). I hated that feeling of going to do something and knowing my husband might be in the middle of a two-kid shitstorm the whole time.”
-“Siblings fight a lot. They just do.”
-“Juggling drop-offs and pick-ups when they are in different schools and childcare situations.”
-“Trying to keep a level of normality for the first kid is hard.”
-“Having two kids with different sleep schedules share a room.”
-“Short-changing my newborn when it comes to one-on-one quality time, thanks to a demanding toddler sister.”
-“Less time for yourself and your marriage.”
-“Time management.”
-“It’s a lot harder to go places. When there is just one, you have a little buddy that you can just take around with you. Having two makes everything a production with two different people having different needs all of the time.”
-“Raising them with equal attention and fairness is the toughest balancing act.”

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The Advantages:
-“Seeing them together is the sweetest. I love that they will have each other for life.”
-“The biggest advantage is that the two play together, so it relieves us from having to focus 100% of our time on one child.”
-“I’m loving that I get to enjoy this baby phase again.”
-“Sibling magic.”
-“My husband became way more involved and helpful when baby #2 came around.”
-“The newborn stage is so much less scary the second time around.”
-“I’m more relaxed with my second, less anxious, happy to hand her over, and I know things will pass.”
-“You see your eldest develop into a big sister/brother—they care for their sibling, develop empathy, and responsibility.”
-“More love, more fun, more kisses.”
-“The younger one learns from the older one.”
-“Saving money with hand-me-downs.”
-“It’s fun to see a new combination of your genes.”
-“You already know most of the tricks from your first child, so you’re more relaxed and confident.”
-“Although they also cause each other bodily harm on a regular basis, it’s like built-in entertainment right in the house.”
-“You know what you actually need and what is first baby fluff.”
“The group takes care of itself so you can separate yourself a bit more. Mine disappear into games of school, dolls, ballet camp, I don’t even know what else because they go off and write their own script for full half hours to hours at a time.”
-“We felt more like a complete family. A family of three always feels like two against one. Now we have two teams of two!”
-“I learned to let go. I just had to.”

Advice For Going From 1 to 2:
-“Taking my newborn everywhere with me in my Ergobaby carrier has enabled me to somehow keep my life! I take him to work meetings, toddler playdates, grocery shopping, even to get a foot massage. Wearing him is the easiest and it lets me not have to be too strict with his naps, since he can nap (and eat!) whenever/wherever.”
-“Ask for help!”
-“Don’t feel guilty about having your first kid still in their regular childcare routine, even when you are on maternity leave.”
-“Try to embrace the chaos!”
-“Try not to change routines too much once you have #2. #1 will be desperately seeking stability, so the more you can keep the same, the better.”
-“We finally hired a night nurse when our #2 was 2 1/2 months. It made all of the difference. Nannies, mother’s helpers, whatever you can afford! Having two babies takes serious team work.”
-“Talk to #1 about #2 as often and as early as possible. Make #1 aware of the baby (even if he/she can’t see the baby). Encourage the eldest to talk to mom’s belly to foster a bond/relationship with baby. Look at the eldest’s newborn pics to let him/her know they were a baby once, too.”
-“Get lots of books about being a big brother/sister and start introducing them into the bedtime rotation early. Daniel Tiger and Doc McStuffin versions were a big hit with our daughter.”
-“Give up any notions of free time. Once you have two it’s 1:1 or 1:2 all the time. Unless you can synchronize afternoon naps.”
-“Outsource as much help as you can, especially with house chores.”
-“Start to make room for the new baby, installing the crib not too early like a month in advance, so that your first child can start to really understand that his little brother is coming, but he doesn’t get too impatient.”
-“Have your husband, mom, or best friend take care of the older child the first two weeks so you can rest and enjoy this wonderfull time with your new baby.”
-“Having other adults besides the parents involved in the kids’ lives makes a huge difference.”
-“Savor and enjoy the time with your first before number two arrives. You gain so much with a second child, but you also give up the reality you’ve come to know and love. We took a family vacation for a week when I was pregnant and I’ll cherish those memories of our last time as a trio forever.”
-“Bring home a present for your older kiddo that’s from the baby when you first come home from the hospital and have your older one pick out something special for the baby.”
-“Prep dad that he will have to do everything while mom takes care of baby #2. Make sure he knows that child number #1 will be needing a lot of his love and help.”
-“Buy two of everything! My kids always want what the other gets, and sharing is such an ordeal.”
-“Just do it. The more you think about it, the worse of an idea it seems.”
-“Make sure it’s what you want and not what you think you should do. The ‘only child’ type is a myth and kids without siblings do just fine. Family is what you make it.”

Leave a Comment

10 comments

Laurel

I feel like the “pro” list is a little lacking. Ok so yes, two kids is tough. A lot of the time. But it’s also amazing! First off, there is the birth. You get a second chance to give birth, to embrace the experience and try and have the birth you want. With my second, I completely tapped my inner cave woman and had a 10 lb baby without drugs, interventions, complications or fear. I healed from my traumatic first birth experience through having my second and I gained a new self confidence and a deeper sense of self worth.

Also, you get the chance to grow, love and bond with another child. My relationships with both my boys are different; not better or worse. I connect with each of them in different ways.

I also found it easier to connect to a community of other parents/families and relatives with two as opposed to one. There is something about having two that makes it easier to both give and receive help from people around you.

I also don’t find a lot of the manifested fears too bad. We sleep trained both kids and they are mostly on the same sleep schedule. We have family meals and maintained all the structure we created for our first. When our second came along, he just kind of fit in to the family life. I also agree that with the second, it’s easier to relax with the parenting and trust that they’ll be okay. I also find that I can cut myself more slack.

One more thing: it can be tough on the marriage. I highly recommend scheduling sex. I know, TMI. But seriously. It’s made such a huge improvement for my husband and I. We both prioritize it and since doing so, we are both happier and nicer to each other. It’s really easy to be pissy and bicker about chores and such, especially on days when the house explodes. Having sex regularly is a way we take care of each other and it helps me see the best in him, even when I feel at my worst.

    Eve

    Thank you for sharing! It’s nice to see a positive and realistic outlook. I have too many friends that are so negative about having two kids. Asking me if I’m sure I’m ready over and over again is not very comforting. And I do appreciate the sex memo! Even with one baby I’ve noticed how much of a bitch I can be towards my partner. Sex does help. A lot.

Gretchen

I have a 3.5 year old and an 8 month old. Both girls are so different. It’s fun to see as the little one’s personality emerge as the older one keeps on changing and growing.

I agree with Laurel’s comment. It seems lame, but scheduling sex has worked even if you decide only to schedule it for a few months, and then go from there. It let’s me prepare (even when I’m feeling touched out) and it makes my husband feel like he’s still a priority. I have never regretted having sex with my husband, even if I didn’t feel like doing it in the first place.

Also, as Laurel says, you have the chance to grow, love, and bond with another child. I was so scared that I wouldn’t love the second like I love the first. Honestly though, I don’t. And that’s okay. The love I have for each is so different. Your heart just grows exponentially.

I would advise, in the early days when your older one needs you, acquiesce. The little one won’t remember crying for just a few minutes if you need to connect eye-to-eye with the older. I think it meant a lot to my 3 year old to have that connection point, when it might have been starting to feel as though I was shoving her off. She knew she was a priority, even if she wasn’t the only priority.

Another pro: I didn’t have to learn how to breast feed! It was so much easier the second time around. (Obviously, this is very specific from mom to mom, but I found this true.)

Rebekah

More positives?? I want two kids for my son to have a sibling and bc we are “baby crazy” but I can’t imagine going back to the newborn stage

    Sarah

    It’s actually not that bad! I have a three month old daughter and a four 1/2 year old son, and I also dreaded the infant stage. Okay, I lied a little: it was tough. Adjusting to having two of them, realizing how helpless the infant is was a shock and scary, and she had colic. But it does pass. Once she started smiling at me, it was so nice to get a reaction that wasn’t screaming at me, and it made it easier.

    And now? Only three months in but I’m loving it. Past the infant stage and straight into baby, all with the cooing and faces and arms flailing. It’s awesome.

    So yes, infants are tough, but they quickly grow into themselves and you will learn to love them unbound.

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em

i have 5 beautiful babies… aged 23, 18, 9, 8 and 4. I waited 4 years between the first 2 as that was “recommended” at the time. They really were a difficult pair to deal with, the older of the 2, my son (8lb 2oz), wanted to read, draw, paint, play with plasticine/playdough, do jigsaws and learn to write, as soon as he could sit up… he could read, and write his name and address at 2 years but didn’t walk til 18 months (first step), the second (7lb 1oz) could talk at 8 months (“what’s your name?” asked by old lady to baby in a pram, “Megan Jade” was the reply!) and took her first step at 9 months. There was a big gap (nearly 9 years between my eldest daughter and my 2nd daughter) number 3 (7lb 3oz) took her first step at 6 months and was also mumbling (mumum, dada, din-din, bo-bo) but by that time I was expecting my 4th baby, another girl (there’s 11 months between them) no.4 (7lb 1oz), my only blue eyed baby, said her first “proper” word at 7 months… “Mummy” and walked at 11 months. Last but by no means least was the “baby” (even called her Quinn as it comes from the latin for 5) who was born nearly 4 weeks early and was 5lb 12oz, she has always been playing catch-up with her older sisters (not through any choices I’ve made as I find myself constantly reminding them how much younger she is than them) but she was a bit early and I was ill so we were in hospital for a while :( and they try to mother her but she wants to do what they are doing, first words 7 months, first steps 8 months (she is VERY naughty! (paints from locked cupboard and on wall at 18months, “can’t find mummy” at 2 yrs in the locked garden to the next door neighbour who proceeded to shout me (I was putting my trousers on and baby had unlocked the front door but luckily couldn’t open the gate… neither could the postman!), tub of hot chocolate powder for lunch and as carpet decoration while I was gardening (about 30 seconds out of my sight) when she was 3 yrs. I had pulled out the sofa and chair to vacuum behind (3 yrs) 10 chocolate biscuits from top shelf of fridge (eaten in 5 mins) 5 “self” haircuts with scissors ranging from playdough scissors through plastic play scissors to first aid scissors (from top shelf of an “above the work surface” cupboard) There are man more “naughty” incidents i could describe. All my babies have been good sleepers/eaters (except Five) and all have been dry day and night by 2 years old. If anyone needs any advice and thinks I can help, I’d be more than willing xxx

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