I’m not going to lie, two kids not only looks a heck of a lot different than having an only child it feels a lot different too. One kid is like an accessory; you can tote them along to dinner and shower them with attention while you wait for your food and everyone at the restaurant tells you how cute your baby is. When you show up to that same restaurant with two kids, it’s like your traded your Louis Vuitton in and no one is cooing over the fact that you have two kids with you.
10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Second Kid
Most of the trials and tribulations of having two kids aren’t that jarring. But, while everyone is focused on telling you that you will never sleep again or that it’s so hard, I want to tell you the differences that most parents of two might not have the time to notice or share with you.
1. You stop Googling everything about your kids
First Child: The first time around parents have this desire to have everything explained. How many aps did you purchase with the first kid? There is the contraction timer, the breastfeeding reminder, the growth milestones, etc. First time parents want to know the answer to every minute detail of what makes their kid tick.
The Next Kid: With the second kid you wing it and assume that you’re pretty sure labor pains are unmistakable, your child will scream before starving to death, and every kid is going to develop at their own pace. Rashes are just rashes until a stranger at the park tells you it’s time to probably get it looked at.
2. You don’t have time to worry
First Child: Many first time parents deal with a lot of worry about their only child. Am I parenting right? Can my kid catch this disease? Which milestones should they work on? All these worries will get your nowhere fast. These new parents need to learn to stop worrying about that which is out of their control.
The Next Kid: Mom’s with two or more kids don’t love their kids any less because we don’t worry we just don’t have the luxury of time to worry. Rather than keeping our infants in a bubble, afraid of the million ways they could contract an infectious disease, we carry on. We know that spending hours examining our worst fears as parents gets us nowhere fast and when you have two toddlers, you have a lot things to do and little time to do it in.
3. You don’t judge other parents
First Child: New parents tend to be more judgmental towards other parents and their parenting choices. Comments like “Well you know they let him cry it out,” or “You can’t blame him that his parents are anti-vaccine” are passed off as veiled acceptance but really new parents are filled with judgement towards other parents who don’t follow their same course.
The Next Kid: Second time parents have been at it long enough to not need validation in their choices from a sea of people following their same course. Our first borns have found friends who they adore that have parents who raised these kids in completely different ways that we did, yet everyone can get along just fine.
4. You care less what other people think
First Child: It’s easy for first time moms to feel crippled in fear of being judged as a parent. How dare your mother–in-law tell you that? Can you believe that know-it-all Mom had the audacity to say that to me. If I don’t clean out these old French fries from the diaper bag what will the mom’s at playground think.
The Next Kid: The second time around you trust yourself more and feel more confident in your role as a parent. Consequently, you don’t need to win over, nor are you looking for approval from the masses. By the time you have a second child you are more accepting of suggestions and opinions because not many people are giving them out anymore. If someone asks, “Can I make a suggestion?” A mom of multiples will most likely sign a breath of relief and appreciation that someone took enough notice to see that you were struggling.
5. You don’t attribute everything your child does to your parenting
First Child: With an only child it is all too easy to wrap up their accomplishments into your own. Elly started walking early, that’s because I am great as a mom and taught her. Mac can hit a ball, he’ll totally be a baseball player…let me imagine what it would be like for ME to experience him being a baseball player.
The Next Kid: With the birth of a second child (who is most likely nothing like their sibling and calls to question everything you thought you knew as a parent) comes an authentic understanding that children are individual from birth and Jax’s good sleeping habits can be partially attributed to regimented parenting but he (completely independent of his parents) was born a good sleeping.
6. You wonder why you thought it was so hard with one kid
First Child: With only one kid you and your husband could do double coverage. With a two adult to one child ratio, things are much more manageable. You show up late places because it’s just so hard to get out if the house with one kid. The world revolves around your only child’s schedule because your terrified of the outcome if it didn’t.
The Next Kid: Introduce the second child and each parent is playing man-to-man defense. You’ll switch back and forth between kids but ultimately, you’re not going to be sitting at the BBQ drinking with your friends knowing that really you only have to show about 50% parenting effort because your spouse has the other 50%. Two kids now means that even if you are doing the one child obligatory 50% there is a second kid that needs that same amount leaving you needing to give 100% all the time.
7. You hardly eat out with friends
First Child: Meeting up with friends for dinner is a blast. You’ll put your little princess in a high chair with her betrothed alongside and coo over them while you all drink craft beer and a long leisurely meal.
The Next Kid: With two kids you have to scale back to socializing to work around your kids two naps and the naps of your friends kids. The times it does work to meet up going to a restaurant proves not to be an ideal solution. There has to be some unspoken rule about the ratio of parents to kids in restaurants. The last time I told the hostess, “I have 6 adults need 3 high chairs and then have 3 in boosters.” I pretty much got the look of death from her! I’m not saying that eating out with kids and groups doesn’t work; I have a Little Black Book of cool restaurants in San Diego that are perfect for eating out with kids, I’m just saying that without a lot more premeditated planning, it doesn’t always go smoothly and you’ll sometimes wish you had your money and your dignity back.
8. You have your friends over less
So we have nixed the idea of taking your besties and all the kids out to eat, so what about having them come over?
First Child: Well if we can’t go out anymore and our best friends can’t go out anymore, let’s bring the party to the house. Grab the porta crib and we’ll have them put Grace down in the office and then we have hours to still hang out kid free while they all sleep!
The Next Kid: It works, but it’s not going to happen nearly as much as you think. We get together with our friends to enjoy adult company but when we have to referee a basketball team worth of kids, the pleasure of their company is a little lost in the chaos. I’m not saying you will never have friends over, I’m just preparing you that everything will start to revolve around your nuclear family a lot more.
9. You become a little jaded
First Child: Parents of only children really go in the trenches giving it their all. Scan a playground and you’ll see young moms with overflowing diaper bags just in case catastrophy strikes in the 30 minutes they are there. If you want some expert advice on one of your kids, ask a first time mom with a child the same age. She’ll practically be Dr. Sears with all her expert research on everything to do with the stage her child is in.
The Next Kid: The experience of having two quickly puts into perspective all the ways we could have done life with one kid differently and in our opinion better. But, for the moms of more than one kid, we have to understand that this knowledge only comes from experience and we have to let the first time mom’s have their moments and have their struggled because we have all been there. The parenting truth for a new mom is part of their journey and it’s not our job or our place to belittle their experience with our “earned expertise”.
10. You constantly feel mommy guilt
This is a big one. For me this is THE ONE. Like if I could only tell you one thing that was the biggest difference between one and two kids for me, hands down this is it.
First Child: Let’s be real, you are pouring your heart and soul into this tiny person you are raising. Unless you know from the start that this is going to be your only child, you probably are killing it as a parent and don’t feel any guilt about your parenting.
The Next Kid: When you have more than one kid you feel a little bit torn because two pieces of your heart are now in separate places and you are getting pulled in both those directions. No matter how much fun I am having with my toddler playing hide and seek, there is a tiny piece of my heart that just feels heavy with guilt that I am not engaging my 1 year old in that moment. When I am giving my one year old the one on one attention he deserves, I’m feeling guilty that my toddler is alone playing playdough and I can’t be dressing princesses with her. It sounds unreasonable like we should just appreciate the moment we are in but with our hearts literally outside of our bodies with our kids, its challenging and something I never expected.
Just like nothing can prepare you for what having your first born child will be like, nothing can really prepare you for what having your second born child will be like. If you are having kids close together many people will scare the crap out of you and tell you how hard it is. It’s not easy (parenting never is) but it’s not that bad either. From a hundred foot view parenting more than one kid looks like chaos, but from in the trenches hidden between time outs and teething is an insurmountable depth of love and purpose. Just remember the sisterhood of motherhood should all unite us because no matter what our beliefs or our stage in parenting, we are all parents first.