Surprises that Came When We Added Baby Number Two
Thinking about having a second child? Or expecting baby number two? As a mom of one, you already know that kids come with surprises. And your second child will be no different. Adding a new family member always brings changes. No matter how prepared you think you are for a second child there are sure to be things that catch you off guard.
Let’s talk about the pros and cons of having another baby. The good, the bad, and the amazing! Plus, find out the 7 things that surprised me about having a second child.
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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. It’s been awesome but also completely crazy!
But was having a second child worth it? Let’s talk about it!
Is Having a Second Child Worth It?
I hear this question a lot. As a mother of two children, my answer is an unqualified yes. But that doesn’t mean every parent is going to feel the same way.
I do believe that once you have a second child you’re going to love them every bit as much as the first.
But does that mean you should have a second child? Let’s talk about the pros and cons.
Pros and Cons of Having a Second Child
I’m a “pro” person, so let’s start with the good stuff! Some of the wonderful things about having a second baby are:
1. Your Kids Will Always Have Each Other
Having a sibling can be a wonderful gift to your first child. This is true when your kids are little. And when they’re grown.
As littles, your two children will have each other as playmates and companions. They will also learn valuable lessons about sharing, getting along with others, and being part of a family. They will be each other’s first and closest friend.
As adults, they will be a part of each other’s family. Someone who remembers their childhood. And shares their memories of growing up. With any luck, their sibling can become a lifelong friend.
2. You Get to Do All the Firsts Again
Admittedly some of those firsts can be kind of a mixed bag (potty training, I’m looking at you). But there is a lot of magic in the baby and toddler years. The sweet smell of a baby, first smiles, first words, and first steps. All the sweet and beautiful moments.
This is a big pro if you’re a parent who loves the baby years. Less so, if not. But if you’re a mama who knows she isn’t ready to be done with babies, then having baby number two is for you.
3. Another Child to Love in Your Family
If you’re thinking about having a second baby because you well, want a second baby, then having a second child will fulfill your dream of growing your family.
You get another child to love. What could be better?
You will fall in love with your second baby just as you did the first. And if your heart is longing for another child to be a part of your family, you will never regret your decision to fulfill the desire in your heart for another child.
Now, I hate to go negative. But we’re talking “pros and cons” here so there has to be a few negatives, right?
1. You Have to Do All the Hard Stuff Again
If doing all the wonderful stuff again is a definite pro of having a second child it makes sense that doing all the hard stuff again would make the list of “cons”.
The sleep deprivation and new parent exhaustion. The diapers, the nighttime feedings. The washing, sanitizing and cleaning of baby clothes, bottles, breast pumps, and diapers. You get to do all that again. Only this time it’s harder. Because you have another kid to take care of.
2. Having a Second Child is Expensive
I’m just going to say it. Having a second child is expensive. Daycare costs will likely double. Diapers, formula, baby food, baby clothes, and all the other baby equipment and expenses will happen on top of things you need for your older child.
Although you’ll have some things you can reuse from your first child. And you have more experience of what you REALLY need for your baby. But there are some things you will have to buy. And those costs add up.
(For the best information on having a baby on a tight budget, check out this Baby on a Budget course!)
Kids are expensive. You already have one. You know this. Consider the budget adjustments you’ll need to make when you have your second child as part of your family planning.
3. Two Kids is Twice as Hard (At Least!)
Having a second child will give your first child a lifelong buddy! And a lifelong rival. (For example, my oldest just asked me to count the Cheerios in their bowl to make sure their sibling doesn’t have more). Sibling rivalry is a tough one to handle some days.
Adding a second child to your family will introduce new challenges that you might not be expecting.
And not just sibling rivalry. There is also the fact that you will have less time for your first child (and they will likely act out as a result). You may have to change some rules. Relax limits or add them in ways you didn’t expect.
Then there is the reality of taking care of two kids when you still only have two hands. Holding hands with one, pushing the stroller with the other. And carrying a diaper bag big enough for TWO kids’ stuff.
Two kids are at least twice the fun and love. But it’s also at least twice the work for mom and dad. (But again, worth it! Just trying to prepare you.)
How to Know When to Have a Second Baby
You’ll just know. I mean, that’s basically the truth, right? If you’re hoping there is a perfect time to add a second child to your family I’m just not sure there is one.
There are certainly times that might be better than others. When your family and marriage are thriving. When your finances are stable. When you have a network of friends and family to support you.
But even if those things aren’t all perfectly in place you can still make it work. There are good times to add a second baby to your family. But no perfect time. And the right time is when you’re ready.
Or hey, if your second baby is a happy surprise for you, then the right time is now! It’s going to be great!
Having a Second Child with a Toddler
Having a baby and a toddler at the same time makes for a busy family life. But there are also lots of advantages.
Having your kids closer together means they’ll be closer in age. And more likely to be playmates when they’re a little older.
It also means you’ll be getting the diaper and nap time years over in a shorter period of time. Rather than spreading them out over a decade.
It can mean your first child gets pushed out of the baby stage sooner than they might otherwise, which is sad. So, you have to weigh the pros and cons. And how it would work with your toddler. But it’s all manageable.
And it’s up to you to decide when the timing works best for your family. To help your first child get ready, check out this post for help preparing your child for a new sibling.
What If I Don’t Want a Second Child?
Then you’re done! Enjoy the child and family that you’ve built! Whether you thought you would want more children and changed your mind, or you aren’t able to have a second child for other reasons, or you always knew you just wanted one, having a single child has many blessings all it’s own.
If there are people in your life questioning your choice to be one and done, I’m sorry. That is challenging.
Choices around having children are so HUGE. And so personal. It’s natural to second guess. And need plenty of time to think about your decisions. But that doesn’t mean you’ve made the wrong choice. Dig deep, reflect, talk to your partner. And decide on that family size that’s right for you.
Going From One Child to Two
Even knowing all of this, a second child is going to change your life in ways you can’t even imagine now. Good, bad, big, small, and everything in between.
I’ll admit I was surprised by how hard it was. And by how much I loved it. It’s been tough at times. But also so full of joy.
If you’re thinking about or preparing for a second child, read on for my list 7 things that surprised me about having a second child.
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What 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 kids effect each other’s behavior. My youngest child wants to do everything her older sibling 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 Child Wants to Stay a Baby When a Second Child Arrives
My oldest child, on the other hand, has practically wanted to crawl back into the womb since her baby 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 our second child home, the oldest 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 the 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 with Two Kids
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 with Two Kids
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, but it also involves high chairs and booster seats and special food, and crayons, and keeping them from knocking stuff off 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 Your Two Kids Play Together is the Ultimate Joy
My kids are three years apart. And as charmed as my oldest 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 children.
My baby 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 two 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 Your Two Children Fight is the Ultimate Pain in the Butt
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the heartwarming sight of my kids 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 sibling 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. Our Second Child Made Our Family Feel Complete
My two little kids 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 kids 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.
Having a Second Child Completed My Family
When I had my second baby, I realized I was done having kids. With my two kids and my husband, 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? I’d love to see your comments!