The Challenges of Adding a Second Child to the Family

Nothing is as life-changing as having your first baby. No matter how informed you are or how many people have warned you, you can’t sufficiently prepare for the shock of becoming a parent for the first time. Life as you knew it is no longer recognizable. Sleep as you remember it is now non-existent. And love as you now feel it is completely redefined. A baby changes your entire life, but it’s totally worth it!

But, after a while, you forget about the lack of sleep and no longer pine for your childless days. When you reach this point, you may start to consider having another baby. You figure that since you acclimated to the first kid, adding another one will be no big deal. Think again, sister! Having two kids, especially if they’re close in age, is like nothing you can imagine. It’s not just two of everything…twice the work…party of four. It’s a whole other ball game. Adding a second child to the family is like signing yourself up for boot camp…by choice!

Do you remember how all-consuming having a newborn was? How they sucked all the time and energy from every day of your life for months? Yeah…add to that a cranky, potty-training toddler who throws a tantrum fifteen times a day for reasons ranging from not being able to watch the same episode of The Wiggles over and over again to wanting you to buy every box of sugary cereal in the supermarket. Said heck-raiser just happens to wake your newborn up every time he pitches a fit and also hates the new kid because he sucks up all of your attention. Good times.

And how does producing more offspring affect your relationship with your husband? Well, get ready to miss him. If you’re like most couples, you’ll adopt a “divide and conquer” approach to parenting once you add a second child. Usually, Mom focuses on the baby, while takes over caring for the older child. More than likely, the kids aren’t on the same schedule, so your husband will be bathing Johnny while you’re doing everything in your power to get the tiny tot to sleep for five minutes in a row already!

If you’re a stay-at-home mom, or dad as the case may be, you don’t get the luxury of the “divide and conquer” model. You may be nursing the baby, while simultaneously wiping the backside of your older child. Glamorous! All this while covered in spit up and having not washed your hair for a week. The house remains in a constant state of disarray, and your spouse may survey the scene upon returning home from work and wonder what in the world you did all day!! *deep breaths*

And if you choose to work out of the home, you get to enjoy a constant state of guilt. As nice as it is to be able to focus on your career and talk to adults for eight hours a day, you feel like you’re missing some major milestones at home. Maybe you hired a nanny, or maybe your kids go to daycare, either way, someone else is spending their time with your little darlings instead of you. It’s a strange experience.

And how about getting them ready for the day? Getting two kids ready for the day instead of one is a lesson in patience, persistence, and hopeful wishes. Please let this be the day that the baby doesn’t have a blow out right after you dressed him. And please let this be the day Johnny doesn’t freak out because he wants to wear his blue shoes instead of his red ones. The planets rarely align when one tries to get two kids out of house. It’s usually a pretty catastrophic experience to say the least.

Your appearance also changes when you add a new baby to the family. Your Chanel suits find a new home at the back of your closet and you invest any spare dollars on yoga pants. Your new favorite hairstyle is a ponytail and makeup might become a thing of the past. You may or may not have old dried up Cheerios stuck in your hair and you may or may not care. Two kids forces you into mom mode, at least for a little while. Self-preservation is the name of the game and silly things like looking pretty are for the childless and empty-nesters. Don’t worry, no one’s looking at you anyway with those two cuties in tow!

And all the gear. My goodness. Navigating a double stroller through the store requires a very steep learning curve. You’ll bruise a few ankles before you finally get it right. Or, you could wear the baby in a sling while pushing a single stroller…and the shopping cart. Good luck with that. Two car seats instead of just one? No problem. Just hope that your toddler waits patiently while you strap the baby in, and if not…just keep your eyes on the car while you chase Johnny across the parking lot.

Maybe you lucked out and spaced your kids far apart. That oldest child shall be your loyal and faithful servant, whether she wants to be or not. Make her fetch the diapers, grab the binky, clean up the toys, and resent you forever. It’s nothing a little therapy can’t fix one day.

Don’t worry…it’s not all bad. You’re giving your first-born a sibling. You’re adding another family member to love and be loved. Yes, it’s hard at first, but things return to relative normalcy after time. Hang in there, as they say. The days fly by and before you know it, you might be thinking about adding yet another bundle of joy to the nest. Just so know, apparently having three kids is the most stressful to parents. Add any more offspring after that and you’ve long since gone crazy. But, it’s okay, every family tree has a few nuts!



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