What to Know Before Having a Second Baby
Adding another baby to your brood is special for so many reasons. After becoming a parent once before, now you get to experience the milestones that went so quickly the first time all over again. You also get to experience the joy of giving your first child a sibling, which is one of the most amazing things a parent can witness.
But while it’s an exciting and uplifting time of anticipation and joy, the life change doesn’t come without challenges. Parents expecting their second baby often have so many questions about how the reality of parenting two children will really look and feel.
If you're one of them, check out these very-real truths I wish someone had told me before having a second baby.
It Will Be Just as Difficult as the First
If you’re like me, chances are you might be envisioning everything to go smoother the second time around. In some cases, this is true. You know how to diaper and burp and, if you’re lucky, rock a baby to sleep. You’ve also become a master at doing things with one hand.
But for everything that’s easier about a second baby, there will be something else that’s challenging to take its place. Yes, you’re more experienced and capable, most likely. But you might be shocked to find out that the sleepless nights, early mornings and intense demands of having a baby is just as hard the second time. The good news is, this time you’re ready for it.
Your Older Child Might Not Like It
Most siblings are quick to snuggle up to their new baby brother or sister. But sometimes, kids need more time to adjust. From a child’s perspective, a perfect stranger has just entered their home and is essentially holding their parents hostage.
There is less time for the older sibling to get all the snuggles and attention they grew so used to. It’s a lot of big emotions for a little person to sort through. While it might take them some time to warm up to their new sibling, chances are, it won’t be that long. And with any luck, they’ll be ganging up on you before you know it.
Big Siblings Make the Best Helpers
After the initial warm-up period, big siblings (even young ones!) are truly the very best helpers. They are eager to get involved, and honestly, you might find yourself asking them for help in ways you didn’t imagine.
Don’t feel guilty for using your tiny helper, especially if they’re offering. It makes them feel needed and important. It’s also a great way for them to feel connected and bonded with mom and baby, especially in the early days post-birth.
Your Big Kid Will Suddenly Look Huge
Not only will you realize how capable your older child is, while holding your helpless newborn, they will also suddenly appear humungous to you. “Did he grow a foot overnight or is it just me?” you might find yourself asking.
Because while you once thought your only baby was so small and fragile, now that you have a basis for comparison, you see them in a whole new light.
Your Second Baby Might Not Be as Chill as the First
There’s a common (and very wrong idea) that second babies are more easy-going than the first. People will say, the second one falls right in line. In fact, some second babies might just make your first look like a walk in the park — but that’s certainly not always true.
In other words, sibling order is not a good predictor of your baby’s temperament. You get what you get.
They Will Actually Be Completely Different
More often than not, siblings have intensely different personalities. You can’t really expect anything about your second child to be the same, no matter how old they get.
Usually, they’ll do everything drastically different, from when they crawl, walk and talk, to what their interests are.
You’ll Have to Figure Out How to Uniquely Parent Each Child
Because each child is so different, you have to be different, too. Having a second kid is like learning to be a parent all over again in a lot of ways. You’ll have to rise to the occasion to meet your child’s unique needs, which might not be anything like your first child’s.
It’s almost like being two totally different parents to each of your children. Yes, you have a baseline for how you want to do things. But your children will demand different things from you, and you’ll rise to the challenge.
Going Anywhere Will Be Twice as Challenging
Now that you have two kids and all their accessories, getting out of the house can be a fierce battle. Sometimes, you’ll find that it’s simply easier to just stay home. But staying home all the time is exhausting.
You have to get out and about, and soon enough, you’ll learn the tricks of the trade for how to handle two kids while cruising the grocery store or the playground. It might be rocky in the beginning, but you’ll get the hang of it.
You Will Want to Fall Apart
If you thought having one baby to take care of was tough, the truth is, two is harder. Yes, there will be a beautiful point when your kids will play together, and you can have a few moments of peace. But until that magic happens, sometimes, you’ll simply want to fall apart. It’s overwhelming and exhausting to take care of young children, especially infants and toddlers.
Know that you aren’t alone in those feelings. Every parent who is learning to adjust to two children has felt utterly drained from time to time. Let yourself fall apart every once in awhile, breathe and move through it.
Your Kids Will Love Each Other
The greatest part about having two kids is witnessing just how much they love each other. You simply can’t prepare yourself for the love between your children. It won’t always appear that way — there will be times when they argue or have knock-down-drag-out fights even.
But through it all, they will be one another’s biggest cheerleaders. And that is a beautiful and heartwarming thing to see.
You’ll Break a Lot of Your Own Rules
When you’re the parent of an only child, it’s easy to get caught in the “I would never” trap. You know, “I’d never stick my kid in front of the TV… make chicken nuggets for dinner three times in a week…” and so on. But when you’re the parent of two, the less important matters quickly go out the window.
When you’re running on empty, sometimes your priorities change a bit. While, yes, there’s a balance to be found, also make sure to cut yourself some slack. You’re the parent of two now — and chicken nuggets are darn delicious.
You’ll Feel as if You Aren’t Always Enough
The truth is, having two kids instead of one means you’ll sometimes feel like you don’t have enough arms, eyes, ears or hearts. You’ll feel like you’re failing sometimes; there are simply so many needs to be met.
Know that every parent feels this way once in a while (maybe even a lot), but that doesn’t mean it’s true. In fact, the only person who could do your job is you. Chances are, the fact that you’re worried about it means you’re doing pretty well already.
You’ll Find Strength You Didn’t Know You Had
On the hardest, most draining days of learning to parent more than one child, you may want to quit. But each time, you’ll find superhuman strength.
You’ll keep moving forward, learning how to meet not only the needs of your children, but your own needs, too.
Your Heart Will Truly Expand
If you’re wondering how you’re going to find extra room in your heart for your second baby, that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about. Your heart really will expand exponentially as soon as you lay your eyes on that tiny newborn baby.
And it doesn’t stop there. The love you feel just grows and grows.