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What to Expect When You are Expecting Again

Now that my son is turning two, I’m faced with one common question from friends and family: Are you ready for another baby?? I typically respond to this question by letting people know that, to their surprise, Greyson may very well be an only child. The reason for this is simple. Between work and parenting, my husband and I haven’t even had time to sit down and converse about the possibility of another baby, much less actually find the time to spend creating another child.

Not to mention, I’ve heard a ton of mothers say that going from one child to two children is harder than having your first. Before I can even consider another future child, I decided to do some research. Luckily, my friend Laura from the blog, Payette Pigtails, was willing to give me the lowdown on what to expect when you are expecting again. Be sure to check out Laura’s blog and  follow her on Twitter by clicking here. Thanks so much for sharing your mommy wisdom, Laura! Enjoy!

naps

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Hi, I’m Laura and I blog over at Payette Pigtails about the ins and outs of life with two little girls who are 26 months apart. (Shelby is almost 4 years old and Natasha is nearly 21 months old.) Going from one to two kids was kind of a big deal. It’s not like we’ve got Irish twins (god bless you if you do!) or even actual twins (holy moly). We knew two kids would be more work. We just didn’t realize how much more. It’s sort of like before you have your first baby and you know you’ll be sleep deprived, but you have no idea just how hard it will really be until you’re in the thick of it, with hormones mixed in for good measure. Anyway, here are a few of the differences that two kids has meant for us (your experience may be totally different!):

No guaranteed down time after the kids go to bed

This is a big one. Sometimes what got me through the day when Shelby was little was knowing she would go to sleep by 7 or 7:30pm and then I’d at least have a couple of hours to myself to decompress. Not so with two kids. Obviously, when Natasha was a newborn she didn’t have any schedule and especially loved to cry at night. So we’d get Shelby to bed only to have to deal with Natasha — sometimes for hours. There was no letup. Chris and I worked out a shift schedule so we’d at least each get a chunk of guaranteed sleep. Now that Natasha’s older she goes to bed reliably at 7 or 7:30pm, but Shelby is up till 8:30 or 9pm (or later some nights — gah!), so down time doesn’t start till then and usually includes picking up the house, doing dishes and/or laundry, cooking, or any number of other mundane but necessary house chores that can’t otherwise get done when we’re at work or with the kids. We then stay up way too late to actually get some down time, which means we rarely sleep enough.

No guaranteed respite during nap time

Nap time is another godsend that keeps you going. It’s a break in the middle of the chaos. But when both children don’t nap — or at least at the same time — it’s painful. Shelby gave up weekend naps for the most part just before she turned 3. We tried instituting quiet time, but it just didn’t take. Do you have any idea what that does to your sanity?! It tanks it! Just when you’re thinking you’ll get a reprieve — haha! Not only is your older child not sleeping, but she also wants to play with you. She’s no dummy; she knows she’s got you all to herself. Sometimes you have to dig deep to make it work.

Overlapping schedules

So speaking of naps, when Natasha was little, but big enough that she needed to sleep at home and not on the go in the car seat, it was hard to go anywhere. It took so long to get everyone and their stuff in the car that, by the time we got to our destination, we’d practically have to turn around to get back home — that or seriously risk screwing up nap time. And when you’re trying to teach a baby to sleep, it’s sort of counterproductive. Even now that Natasha is older and takes a solid midday nap, we have to plan around it. Most kid-friendly places near us don’t open on the weekend till 10am and are 25-30 minutes away, but N goes to sleep at noon. It doesn’t work so well. Meanwhile, Shelby is always restless and wants to go somewhere!

Severely reduced ability to just “run out”

When you have one kid, you can theoretically leave them at home with your spouse/partner and run out to do an errand by yourself. You get your errand done faster, you get some alone time — it’s great! And you can return the favor for your partner. When you have two kids, you divide and conquer, which means you’ve almost always got at least one kid with you. Outings that once seemed easy and maybe even fun turn into ordeals. Need to pick up your prescription? No problem — that’ll take an hour. Need some new clothes? Better pick them up at Target, along with your milk and baby shampoo, because you’ll never make it to a real store, let alone have time to try anything on. Think about it: How do you buy new bras? Let me tell you from experience, it doesn’t work real well to take your kid in the fitting room with you. Need to get your haircut? You might just need to hire a babysitter.

Virtually no ability to focus on anything (because someone always needs something)

When you’ve got one kid and they’re beyond the baby phase, they learn to entertain themselves — at least long enough for you to go pee by yourself (in some cases, anyway). But when you’ve got two, someone always needs something from you. “I’m hungry!” “I need a Kleenex.” “Can you get me that toy (that’s out of reach)?” “I wanna watch Ariel!” “I want milk.” You no sooner sit down than someone’s asking for something that requires you to stand back up.

Because you can’t catch a break, you also can’t focus to get anything done. You learn to work in snippets of time — 30 seconds here, 3 minutes there. Laundry takes ages to get folded or put away (if ever). Recipes you used to think were easy to whip up (that took 30 minutes) get relegated to a dust heap. Now you make what you can throw together in 5 minutes or less. You start to wonder if you can keep a thought in your head:

Mom: I need to finish the grocery list so I can get to the store before…

Kid 1: Moooooooom! Where are my shoes?

Mom: Check the kitchen, by your coat…Oh crap, I need to put their coats in the car so I don’t forget them…

Kid 1: I don’t see them!

Mom: Well, check in the family room. Where did you last have them?…Ok, grocery list…

Kid 2: I want a snack.

Mom: Scrambling to think of something…How about some grapes?

Kid 2: Yeah!

Mom: Okay, I need to cut them up…Here you go…sits down again…

Kid 1: I wanna watch Jake [and the Neverland Pirates].

Mom: Fine. Just till I finish this list and then we’re going. But I want you to go potty first…turns back to grocery list, frantically trying to finish.

Kid 1: Kid goes potty…Can you wipe me?

Mom: Gah!

Never Ending Opportunities to Parent

“She won’t give me that toy!” “Hey, that’s mine!” “She hit me.” Basically, you can kiss peace and quiet goodbye for a long time once you have two kids (unless they’re are asleep). Someone is always jabbering, asking questions, complaining, crying, screaming, or otherwise trying to vie for your attention. It literally never ends. And with all the arguments and questioning and curiosity come limitless opportunities to parent. Sometimes you’ll feel on your game, but most of the time you’ll be too exhausted and/or bewildered to even know what to do or say. In fact, you’ll wonder when Amazon is going to deliver that magical parenting manual — not that you’d have time to read it.

Constant Juggling at Mealtime

Okay, this is a little exaggerated in our house because Natasha has a peanut and an egg allergy, but even without that the girls have different appetites and eating schedules. Which means that by the time you get food for one of them, the other one wants something…different, of course. It means if you’re not careful you’ll spend your whole life in the kitchen — either making something or cleaning it up. At the very least you’ll be refereeing comments like, “Ewww, I don’t like that!” and, “I need more milk!” Remember the line from A Christmas Story? “My mother had not had a hot meal for herself in 15 years…” Believe it.

A House That’s Never Clean

You might think it’s hard to clean your house with one kid — and it is! Add a second kid to the mix and you can pretty much kiss clean toilets and bed sheets goodbye. Well, maybe not toilets because that gets gross, but baseboards and other niceties for sure, like counters. (I hear we have them.)  Ain’t nobody got time for that  — unless you have a housekeeper (it’s on my wish list). My house always looks like it’s been hit by a tornado. Toys, shoes, stuffed animals, dirty socks, art projects — they’re constantly strewn about. And it does little good to pick them up because five minutes later one kid or the other will deposit something new on the floor. I’m not saying don’t try to pick up — just know that it’s like a bucket that’s constantly being filled with water; you’ll never empty it.

Larger Family Expenditures

This one is obvious, although you might not necessarily think so. It’s not like you’re feeding another adult (or growing teenager — eek!). But even if you’re like us and have two kids of the same gender, hand-me-downs from kid #1 don’t always work, so you buy more clothes. You need more car seats. You spend more for kid activities. You pay more for daycare. And if you’re lucky enough to go on them, you spend more on family vacations. In short, cha-ching.

Now, I’m not saying don’t have a second kid (or third or fourth). Just don’t be surprised when baby two isn’t like baby one and you find yourself wondering how in the world you can get through each day without eight arms and a lot of coffee.

Comments

  1. I have to say that my experience with two has been different. Mine are 21 months apart – the younger is 20 months and the older is 3.5. It’s true that in the beginning it was very difficult to juggle a baby and a toddler, but now I actually find it easier. Rather than having to constantly entertain one child, they play together and I’m able to get things done. And I always go out and run errands by myself on the weekends. My husband has no problem watching both kids (at least now that they’re a little older). Sure, getting out the door takes a little longer, but you get used to it. That’s just my two cents, though. I know everyone has a different experience!

  2. I’m going to have to disagree with some of this. To me it sounds like this mom is 1) not using her husband enough to help out around the house or 2) her kids walk all over her and are too demanding. My girls are 35 months apart and my life does not feel like this mom. My oldest knows that she has to put her own shoes/coat on and many times helps her little sister with hers. Yes, running errands is harder but picking up something at the store doesn’t take an extra hour. My kids understand that they have to sit in the cart quietly and if there are fits, they sit in time-out when they get home. I’ve gone clothes shopping at real stores with them and yes it’s more difficult but it’s definitely possible if expectations are laid out. Children need boundaries and responsibilities around the house. Have them pick up their own toys, feed the dog, help set the table, etc. There is no reason that mommy should be doing everything for children who are perfectly capable of helping too.

  3. I do agree with a lot of this to some degree, but after the first year it really hasn’t been that bad and just now is starting to feel like life is hitting a routine and is calming down a lot with 2 kids! I think it helps that I know a lot of people with 3+ kids or twins, and our life seems super calm comparatively 🙂

    I think the main differences are that both of my kids have not given me much grief about going to bed and are typically in bed by 7:30. Youngest (now almost 2) didn’t sleep through the night til 1 but always went to bed fine. Oldest (just turned 4) still will nap or stay in her room quietly during nap time (they have to do that during nap at daycare so I’m sure that helps). That is huge and helps us to even feel like the house is clean sometimes too because we can tidy up each night.

    We also just make one meal for everyone and all eat at the same time (but have no food allergies to deal with and neither kid is that picky, but they have gone to bed without eating much of anything more than a few times!).

    It’s definitely really important to me to make sure to take some time out too – we don’t usually divide the kids so sometimes one parent just has both while the other parent needs to do something, and that’s not that big of a deal. We do regular dates and nights out with our friends to maintain our sanity.
    Erin recently posted…Schooling DecisionsMy Profile

  4. Glad to hear some of your experiences are different — and seemingly easier. My girls do play together more now that they’re older, but they’re both high energy/high maintenance and simply require a lot from us still. We have consistent boundaries and consequences, although my husband is a bit more lax with enforcing them than I am. And I definitely do a lot more around the house (a LOT), but his job is very stressful and requires long hours. I wish I could say that I’ve gotten used to getting out of the house taking longer, but it’s still a big source of stress for me on work days. Anyway, my narrative was simply one view of life with two kids — and for me, this stage still feels likes a juggling act. And that’s the beauty of parenthood — it’s different for everyone and there’s plenty of room for everyone’s experiences.
    Laura recently posted…Shelby Sayings: 47 Months OldMy Profile

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