Many have asked me what it’s like going from 1 child to 2. The only similar situation I could think of was when we got a second dog. Going from 1 dog to 2 is super easy once the new dog is house trained. 2 dogs is not twice the work since when you feed one, you feed both and when you walk one, you walk both. Plus, they entertain and give affection to each other, so you don’t have to do as much (or feel as guilty when you don’t have time). Obviously, with kids, it’s the polar opposite.
Going from 1 to 2 kids is most definitely double, if not triple the work. Life is a lot more complex, requires a lot more planning and organization, and every day is chock full of responsibilities. I’m going going going nonstop all day, every day! For a while, I didn’t even watch TV because I just didn’t have the time. Once I was done with everything that was required of me for the kids, it would be 9pm and I’d be rushing to get to bed to squeeze in a few hours of sleep before the baby’s first night feeding.
But there’s also a big difference in my situation. I’m a working mom this time around (instead of a SAHM which I was for the first 18 months with Wagon Jr.), and I’m much happier this way. Being able to rely on others as fellow primary caregivers for both kids really takes a lot of pressure off of my shoulders, but it does add the stress of coordinating everyone’s schedules. So because I’m happier with my place in life, I find myself motivated to get everything done all the time. I find fulfillment every day in juggling all of my tasks and keeping the house running as smoothly as possible. I’m exclusively pumping, so I’m constantly calculating when my next pumping session will be. I can’t wait too long or I’ll risk plugged ducts, but I have to wait for a 15 minute chunk when someone else can respond to the kids if they need someone.
The busiest times of the day are the mornings and bedtimes. In the mornings, our nanny arrives at 7am and her daughter is usually asleep in the car seat, so we’re lucky to only have to attend to WJ in the mornings — that’s business as usual in getting him up, dressed, fed, and off to daycare.
Bedtime is definitely busier. I usually bathe Lil Miss Wagon and put her to bed while Wagon Sr. is feeding WJ dinner and playing. After I’m done with LMW I’ll say goodnight to WJ and pump while WS is bathing WJ and putting him to bed. After I’m done pumping and WS is done with WJ, he meets me in our bedroom to wait for me while I finish up pumping. It’s so tempting every night to just pull the covers over ourselves and fall asleep, but I have to get up to finish up my daily tasks or the next morning will be disaster! That is motivation enough to get me back up to organize my milk, prep the next day’s bottles, wash dishes to clear the sink, wash pump parts and bottles, and prep my pump bag for the next day. There’s usually a load of laundry to do as well. With just one kid, I used to do laundry only once a week. Now, between the food stains, poop diaper blowouts, and occasional vomit episode, I do a small load several times a week.
Another issue that people ask me about is attention. Lots of people expecting child #2 stress about being able to give the first child enough attention once the baby comes along, or not being able to tend to baby’s needs because the first child (who is usually in their terrible twos at this point) requires so much attention. Obviously, when you’ve been parenting one child for a year or two, their needs are your primary concern since you haven’t even met the second child yet, let alone understood what it’s gonna take to care for a newborn again.
I always knew WJ wouldn’t be an only child, so I was always cognizant of the amount of attention we’d give him. If WS was playing with him, I’d busy myself with housework or something else so that WJ wouldn’t get used to having both of our full attention on him at all times. Because he was used to not having both of our full attention, it wasn’t a huge issue after the baby came. He’s never shown jealousy or acted out towards the baby. Of course, he’s always been a very independent kid, so that helps too.
I also quickly realized something important– newborns don’t really need your full attention! You feed them and they sleep, and that’s pretty much it for at least 3 or 4 months. Then, by the time they’re looking around and noticing things, they fall absolutely in love with their older sibling (and, in our case, our dogs too!) so they’re constantly engaged and entertained, and you don’t really need to put that much energy into entertaining them like you did the first baby. Our pediatrician says that younger children look at their older siblings “with stars in their eyes.” This is so true! LMW is constantly staring at WJ in total adoration. He’s starting to notice, and goofy entertainer that he is, he’s starting to do things to make her laugh. So when the two kids are looking at each other, you don’t really have to worry about paying enough attention to both of them.
The last thing I’ll mention is confidence. With our second child, we have a lot more confidence in our parenting skills. After all, the physical proof that we are able to raise a baby successfully is right before our eyes every day in WJ. He is sometimes ANNOYINGLY robust (like when he can’t get through brushing his teeth because he keeps melting down into giggles) so we rarely have to second-guess ourselves in our parenting decisions with LMW since we’ve already done it once with WJ. The many things we were anxious about with WJ now seem like a breeze with LMW (is she eating enough? sleeping enough? should we let her sleep in the stroller? the swing? what does this poop mean? what does the lack of poop mean?). Plus, the tasks of taking care of an infant seem ridiculously simple compared to taking care of a toddler! This is not to say that taking care of a baby is an easy thing. It’s very difficult, but when you compare bathing an infant to wrangling a belligerent toddler into the tub and keeping him entertained long enough to hose him down, lather him up, and hose him down again before he throws himself over the tub’s edge, the baby bath seems like NOTHING! The toughest part is lifting the baby out of the bath… and very often we have to lift our toddler out of the bath as well… so it really doesn’t compare.
I hope this helps anyone who might be reading who is afraid of going from 1 to 2! I know that for myself, I struggled with the idea of a second child because it was so hard taking care of one child, I couldn’t imagine how much harder it could be to take care of a baby on top of that first child. I’m happy to report that even though it’s more work, it’s less stressful. At least, that’s the way it’s been for me so far!
How was your transition from 1 to 2?