First of all, I think this post’s title is a bit misleading. Each family dynamic is different and there is no formula on what to expect when a major transition happens in your life. That being said, I am now close to 5 months into my transition from one to two kids and have a few pointers since this is pretty fresh in my life.
My first daughter was 22 months when our second child was born. Overall, the transition from 1 to 2 kids was MUCH easier on me than from 0-1. I think this just depends a lot on your expectations and temperament of your children. The fact that my first child had acid reflux in addition to a few other challenging circumstances, I totally floundered as a new mom. I was so stressed and struggled with some postpartum depression. Simply put, I was a mess after my first.
So as you can imagine, I was a little anxious to do it all over again. I even wrote a post about Six Things I will do Differently with My Second Child as a way to prepare myself for round two. Ready or not, our little man entered the world and my transition from one kid to two began.
After five months into this transition from one child to two, here are some things I think are worth sharing with moms on what to expect.
Ten Things to Expect When Adding another Child to the Family
1. Expect a change in behavior in kid #1
Some kids freak out. Some don’t. Some regress. Some don’t. Some embrace the new baby. Some would rather send it home with grandma. There really is no way to predict how child #1 will respond. Just know they will. A lot of it depends on their age, temperament, preparation, or even mood at the time when baby comes through the door.
Regardless of how they handle it, expect there to be some change. My daughter did really well with the new baby. Despite a few freakouts when the baby would cry, she didn’t have too many problems. She had to learn quickly how to play independently for longer amounts of time. She initially protested my delayed response time to her needs but eventually got used to it. She got a little moodier but it’s hard to know if that was just a developmental thing or a result of a new sibling. Who knows. I also saw her grow more attached to daddy which leads me to my second point…
2. Expect to have others help more with kid #1
This was something I didn’t expect. While I was in the hospital, my mom primarily took care of #1. After that, daddy was her primary care giver while I soldiered through the Fourth Trimester. In the beginning I was always so busy with the newborn that someone else had to be the one to feed, dress, bathe and play with #1. She had to get used to other people doing things differently and she adjusted quickly to new routines. If anything, it was really great to see she and her daddy start to form a special bond. They came up with their own games and jokes that she would constantly ask for. She learned to rely on him to help her when I couldn’t. I actually didn’t realize how hard this would be for me. I LOVED that they were forming a daddy-daughter bond but I almost felt a little guilty that I couldn’t do everything I used to for her.
3. There will be moments of chaos
It will happen. Things will get crazy, people. Both kids will be screaming their lungs out for different reasons and you will have to assess which crisis is the most critical to address. Or they will both be in the car and each other’s crying will just escalate the other’s fit. Or your toddler will have a massive tantrum at the exact time your baby decides to have a massive blowout while you are changing him. Or they both will be at their wit’s end in need of a nap and you have to decide who to put down first and who to let cry until you can put them down. Just know there will be crazy moments. What has helped me get through these moments is a little trick I learned from the book, Loving the Little Years. In the midst of chaos, tell yourself, “This moment will pass. In 10 minutes this will be over…” This little phrase has kept me sane through quite a few insane moments.
4. You’ll probably be way more laid back
All my mom friends agree – you get more and more laid back with each kid you have. First of all you just don’t have time to fuss over every little unknown. You don’t have the time or energy to search the corners of google about the little twitch your child’s mouth does or to figure out what the little red bump on their hand might be. You also realize that most things are minor and will eventually work themselves out. I found that I have been way more laid back about his schedule/routine. I don’t have the mental energy or even desire to keep up with how many minutes/hours he’s napped that day or to research when he’s “supposed” to drop that late afternoon nap. You get the picture. Round two is just easier. Sure, you’ll have different hangups because they are a different baby than #1 but overall, you are more prone to just ride the waves of strange behaviors and habits because you know they will end as quickly as another one will begin.
5. Child #2 tends to work around my schedule vs. me working around their ideal schedule
After #1 was over 3 months old, I was home for almost every nap time. I did my best to stretch feedings to be every 3 hours and had her schedule pretty much figured out. Well #2 is a bit different. This kid has had to learn to nap on the go simply because he’s had to. He’s got a big sister who needs a morning out of the house in order to remain sane and for her mama’s sanity as well. Sometimes the story hour at the library doesn’t quite line up with #2’s feeding schedule so I’ll just tank him up with a feeding way early and head out. I’ve also nursed in other places a lot more than I did with #1. I realize as he gets older I’ll lose the luxury of on the go naps but I’m stretching his abilities as long as I can.
6. Expect less down time
A few days ago I was talking to a mom of four kids. She told me with the birth of each kid, she would look back and think, “I had so much more time when I only had one less than I do now!” When there is more than one kid in the picture, you’re just busier. There is very little time where you can do what you want without being interrupted or a minor crisis erupting. It feels like I am busy all day but at the end of the day when my husband asked what we did that day, I have nothing substantial to tell him. Sometimes I just say, “I kept kids alive and happy.” And to just prove my point, it has taken me two days to finish this post.
7. Expect less sleep
When you have your first newborn baby, you get to nap when the baby sleeps to catch up on sleep deprivation. With two kids, this isn’t really an option. For example, last night my 5 month old was up from 4:30-5:30 for various reasons. I knew he would eventually go back to sleep until 7 or 8. With one I would sleep into 7 or 8 with him. However, my toddler was up and ready to party at 6 am this morning. There just isn’t time to make up for lost sleep and like I mentioned above, you’re busier all day so you’re more tired. The good thing is you are a little more used to the discomfort of tiredness but regardless, you don’t have the luxury of napping when the baby is asleep.
8. Expect to break some “rules” and norms
When you throw another kid into the mix, you go into bit of a survival mode until you can find your new normal. When we were adjusting to #2, my toddler got to watch more TV than normal, have lunch on the floor, run around outside without shoes or even pants, have more snacks, play with my phone more, etc. There is a season there where you simply don’t have the extra hand you need so you have to do what works. I don’t suggest throwing all rules to the curb- just give yourself some grace and let some things slide for a season until you can figure out how to juggle both.
9. Expect to see your sin
Having a second child does not CAUSE you to sin- it just reveals what sin is lying way down deep and needed some specific circumstance to bring it to the surface. I really didn’t realize how selfish I was until I had a second child. I am so territorial about my time and anything interfering with what I want to do with my day. With one child, this sin surfaced a bit but this idol of “me time” wasn’t really threatened until #2 came. Not only have I seen my selfishness but I didn’t know how angry and impatient I was- particularly with child #1. All the challenges that come with having two kids can really take a toll on you. Just be prepared to see some ugly sin surface and don’t be surprised by it or blame your kiddos for your idols being threatened.
10. Expect a new normal!
So here’s the deal. Your family has doubled. It will NEVER EVER be the same. It is silly to expect your days to look the same as they did before #2. I say this bluntly because I didn’t really think through it. My first child and I had gotten in a really good groove and knew what to expect for the day. Now that another kiddo is in the mix, our typical day looks different. Meals look different. Playtime looks different. The time I am able to work and blog is different. Getting household work done during the day even looks different. Life changes. Big time. But the good thing is, you’ll find your groove again. Your life will eventually take on a new normal and you’ll adjust and embrace it.
I hope this post paints a realistic but hopeful picture of what it looks like to transition from one to two kids. Like most changes, it is challenging but totally worth it. I wouldn’t go back to my life with one kid even if I could. I love my new normal.
If you think of it, pass this on to any (second time) expecting mamas out there. I wish I would have known a lot of this stuff before I ventured into life with two kids. Hopefully my experiences can help others have a smooth transition.