During the time I was considering having a second child, I was fortunate to be working closely with two other mamas who had each recently expanded their family by one. They were full of advice about parenting, breastfeeding, taking kids to daycare, and all the other good stuff moms need to share and talk about. When it came to the topic of having a second child, they both agreed having two wasn’t much harder than having one. I specifically remember one of them saying, “As a mom of one, you’re already doing 20 things at once most of the time. Adding a second kid doesn’t change that.” As it turns out, this was not my experience. For me, going from one kid to two was like going from doing 20 things at once to doing 200 things at once. Here are a few other things that surprised me about having a second child.
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7 Things That Surprised Me About Having a Second Child
1. Your Second Child Wants to Grow Up Fast
One of the most surprising things for me about having a second child is the way my two girls affect each other’s behavior. My youngest daughter, now 19 months, wants to do everything her older sister can do.
She wants to run and jump and play as if she was a much older toddler. At only 19 months, she already demands to use the potty, even though physically she is not ready to potty train. She wants to use a big girl cup with no lid and eat with an adult size spoon. Baby swings and even trikes are already being tossed aside in favor of big kid toys just like her sister’s. There is no holding this kid back no matter how much I want to baby her, my last little one.
2. Your First Wants to Stay a Baby
My oldest daughter on other hand has practically wanted to crawl back into the womb since her sister was born. She likes big kid stuff most of the time, her favorite shows and toys, getting to stay up later. But ever since we brought her baby sister home, she has wanted to revert to being a baby. She’s asked to go back to wearing a sleep sack. And to sit in my lap when we read. Rocking to sleep has even come back into demand after years without it.
It’s now common for my four-year-old to demand a sippy cup and baby spoon at mealtimes. And even the toddler crackers her sister likes are a coveted treat. Any time she feels her little sister is getting too much attention, regression and baby behavior is her new way to get all eyes back on her. I don’t mind it usually, it’s sweet at times. But it was something that surprised me about having a second child.
3. There is No Such Thing as Quick Trip
No parent can deny that leaving the house changes when you have a child. But I was surprised by how much the difficulty was increased when I added a second child. When I had my first baby and she was in a car seat carrier it was pretty simple to lift it out of the car and take her places.
Even when she became a toddler in a bigger car seat, I could easily carry her and my small tote sized diaper bag in and around a store. It was an armful but easy enough to do when I needed to run errands.
Getting two kids in and out of car seats is a more involved process. Especially when one or both doesn’t feel like cooperating. My cute little tote of a diaper bag for one baby? Long gone! With two kids I need a suitcase. Or at least a giant diaper bag big enough for two sets of clothes, food, and bottles for each, and diapers in two different sizes. The amount of stuff is crazy.
There are no quick trips out of the house with two kids. Or quick stop bys anywhere. Just leaving the house you’re investing ten to twenty minutes into loading the car. And you know it will be ten to twenty minutes getting out again. When you go somewhere, you’re committed and planning to stay. At least long enough to make it worth the hassle.
4. You Can’t Go Anywhere
The reason you can’t go anywhere after having a second child is you are no longer just a couple with a baby. Once you have a second child you are a traveling circus. It changes the way people look at you. And the things you can easily do.
Eating at a restaurant now not only costs a fortune, it involves high chairs and booster seats and special food, and crayons, and keeping them from knocking stuff off of the table. Two is a lot. Especially when they’re little. And obviously, three or more just adds to the fun. And the chaos. Everywhere you go, you bring the crazy. Or maybe it’s just my family?
Another challenge for the parent of two is grocery shopping with kids. It’s like shopping with an octopus. An octopus trying to shoplift candy and toys every time you turn your back on them.
Enjoy visiting a friend’s house with your first baby? Well with two, every time you have one kid entertained, the other is sticking their hands in your friend’s toilet. Or climbing the stairs. Or knocking over an antique vase. And you have to find a way to be in two places at once.
The fact is you can’t go anywhere with two children. At least not easily. And I know, I know, plenty of moms do everything from grocery shop to travel abroad with two children and more. But I think even the most intrepid will admit, it takes some work.
5. Watching Them Play Together is the Ultimate Joy
My girls are three years apart. And as charmed as my oldest daughter was by her infant sister, she was disappointed to discover there was not much she could do with her. But in the last few months as my youngest baby has become a toddler I have seen a beautiful friendship developing between my two girls.
My baby girl idolizes her big sister. And her sister is starting to enjoy her little sidekick when it comes to playing with toys. Running around the yard, playing in the kiddie pool, organizing stuffed animals, and playing dinosaurs, it turns out is more fun with two.
It fills my heart with joy to see my kids playing together and having fun. And, bonus, it takes the heat off of me when it comes to providing all the entertainment around here!
6. Watching Them Fight is the Ultimate Pain in the Ass
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the heartwarming sight of my daughters playing together is the Wrestlemania like battles they have over toys, markers, or a piece of lint one of them picked up off the floor. If their sister has it, it’s pure gold and they must fight to acquire it!
The screaming and crying as they battle it out is the soundtrack to my daily life. At least during the witching hours, at bedtime and anytime I’m on the phone or need to pee.
7. It Made Our Family Feel Complete
My two little girls are the light and love of my life. As much as I was surprised by the difficulties of parenting two children, I have been equally delighted by the rewards.
The surprises of having a second child are going to vary based on the ages and spacing of your two kids. Mine are three years apart almost exactly. And some of the wildest, smartest, most fun girls you’ll ever meet.
For most of my life, I was sure I wanted a minimum of three kids. And maybe even four or five. The number scaled back considerably after I had my first. And to my surprise, after I had my second child, I realized my heart and my home felt full. The four of us felt like my meant to be family. And I knew this was it for us. So what surprised me most about having a second child was that it made our family feel complete.
Moms of two or more, what were some things that surprised you about adding to your family?