If you’re a soon-to-be mom of two and are worried about making the transition, you’re not alone.
What I hear most often from women expecting their second child isn’t rooted in fear, but uncertainty. “Will I be able to love a second baby as much as my first?” “Will I have the time or energy to manage two with equal effort?” “Will my baby sleep or breastfeed as well as our first did?”
In some ways, welcoming a second child into the world is almost scarier than the first, because now, and different from before, you have experience and a platform of comparison.
When I became pregnant with my second child, I was instantly filled with that same self-doubt. Questions ran through my mind incessantly. “Were we ready?” “How would our son handle not being the only child?” “Am I even a good enough parent to one child for the universe to hand me a second?”
It didn’t matter how uncertain or doubtful I was, this baby was happening. And when she came, she was the second most glorious thing I had ever laid my eyes on, and my heart opened two fold and expanded to a depth I never knew possible.
In the four years that I’ve been a parent of two, these are the three biggest lessons I’ve learned (mostly the hard way) and how I handled it in the hopes of adapting to the parent my children deserve.
Lesson One: It’s Important Not To Compare Your Children
One of my favorite quotes that I try to live by daily is that “comparison is the root of all unhappiness.” Whether this means comparing milestones or personality types to your older child or a friend’s child, comparing two completely different people will only generate frustration.
“Well, Ethan was able to sleep through the night at 6 weeks” or “Tommy was walking by 10 months and Liam is so far behind” places an unfair expectation on not only your new child, but yourself.
Trust me, as your children age, it becomes increasingly tempting to compare them (notably when one is behaving and one isn’t, haha), so recognize it early and minimize it.
Your new baby is her own being. She will operate on her own timeline – sometimes faster and sometimes slower – and it means absolutely nothing about your parenting.
As you transition from one child to two, remember this: you would hate to be compared to your spouses’ ex, so don’t compare one kid to the other!
Lesson Two: You Are Not Always Going To Have Your S**t Together
When I was a mom of one, I felt like I had it all together. I slept well, I ate well, my house was always tidy – life was in a nice, neat little box exactly how I liked it. Having a second child, though, threw me for an absolute loop.
Instead of dividing my efforts between my firstborn, husband, home, work, and self… now all of a sudden there was a WHOLE other life that needed me, meaning I had to sacrifice time from those other sectors. I didn’t even know what self-care was for a few years (who has time to read books anyway?!). My house suffered, my marriage took WAY more work than before, and well, I definitely didn’t step foot in the gym for a while.
You can’t possibly excel at EVERY pillar of your life EVERY day. Sometimes, you have to pick and choose where your energy goes — and as we all know, our children and spouses matter more than the laundry being folded immediately.
Adjusting to being a mom of two isn’t easy, and the lesson here is to know what matters most. Don’t beat yourself up if other areas of your life take a small hit because you’re focused on being the most present parent you can be.
Lesson Three: You Are Not Going To Be Able To Give Your Children Equal Attention Every Day
This one was REALLY hard for me. I wanted to make sure I was Captain Equal day in and day out. My idea of being the best parent was that both my kids got an equal percentage of my time, energy, and patience.
But, as I type it now, that was unrealistic, and this is why. At different stages in your children’s lives, they will need you more or less. Your newborn clearly needs you more than ever. You will not be able to both physically breastfeed and play hide and seek with your 5-year-old. This is a hard reality, but an important one to grasp and learn to be okay with.
The important thing to note is that while you can’t give your equal attention to both children every day, you can decide at what times of the day one child needs you more. I schedule dates with my children individually and those are the absolute highlights of my week because, at that moment, I’m truly able to give one kid at a time my undivided attention!
As I learned to adjust from one child to two, the lesson I learned is that you’re just one person. You can’t be everything for everyone at every moment.
I could go on for pages, but this is what you really need to know about transitioning from 1 kid to 2. It will be hard. It will test every limit you knew you had and didn’t know you had. You will fail miserably. And it will still be the greatest thing you ever did.
Give yourself some grace, remember, they don’t give us a manual when they hand us our babies and tackle parenthood one day at a time – with the best intentions and a heart full of boundless love.