It’s been over a year since we became a family of four (yep had a covid baby). I knew it would be an adjustment but I had no idea just how different life would be. Here are the ten things that no one told me about having a second child.
1) It is not twice as hard. At times it’s more like 100 times as hard. There is one of you and two of them and they both have different schedules and routines. It’s at this point you understand the meaning of juggling act.
2) Getting organised. Just when you thought you had your mum life together, baby number two arrives to show you how unorganised you are. The chaos that descends upon life requires a complete reorganisation and tighter routines (even for those on the free ranging spectrum).
3) Guilt. Oh, the sheer pain running deep into the heart of the mum of more than one. You realise so much of what you did the first time around was totally unnecessary and you won’t even entertain the idea of doing them again. Then the guilt creeps in that this child is missing out. You try to remove that guilt by saying that your second child has an instant friend (see point 8).
4) You only have one body. It’s not something you thought of until both kids decide to burst into wailing tears in different rooms. You will scoop them up (with a jarring pain to your back), yet they will fight each other for sole custody of your lap which in turn keeps the tears flowing.
5) Be prepared to be late (at least in those early days). Getting one kid ready is super easy, even when they decide to play stubborn and have full blown meltdowns. But two is another level challenge. Particularly when one child is ready and as you get the next prepared, the first child gets unready. It’s like the kids are in cahoots together.
6) Comparing. We say we won’t. Yet even as early as the birth story, the comparing starts. Of course you will be mindful not to make such statements within their earshot, but to your partner and anyone else who will listen, you will note the large and minute differences between your children. It’s ok, everyone does.
7) You realise how far you have come as a parent. You still don’t know everything, but you do know some things. You parent with a quiet confidence having been there done that. You’ll find first time mums seeking you out with their infinite questions and it’s your turn to place the reassuring hand on their shoulder telling them they are doing a great job.
8) Instant friend. Unlike your first who only knew mum and dad, this kid gets a sibling. From that first day they have a playmate. It doesn’t always work out, but when it does, it offers you a brief reprieve. Your firstborn interacts with their new sibling as a child, not a parent and sometimes that is all the baby needs.
9) Sibling love. Nothing prepares you for those heart swelling moments when the baby laughs at their sibling (before you) or when they save their biggest smiles for their big brother. And equally when you vacuum the house and your eldest steps in front of the baby on the floor declaring loudly “don’t hurt my brother”. It’s so beautiful it hurts.
10) Love does multiply. It is difficult with one child to fathom how you could possible love another. But when that second child comes along, love multiples and you love them just as much as the first. Even with all the changes and the second upheaval of your life, you wouldn’t change a thing.