The truth about two children

April 29, 2014

What’s the truth about two children?

What's the truth about two children? I look at what it's going to be like having a baby and a toddler

“You’re going to have your hands full!” a nurse told me at my very first antenatal appointment, on hearing it was my second baby. She would shortly jab me in the arm with a needle, so was probably only trying to distract me with small talk, but sheesh, thanks lady. Although I’m a pretty pragmatic person I was barely six weeks pregnant at the time, and standing right at the top of the high hormonal diving board that is the first trimester. It’s not the sort of thing you want to hear at that point, is it?

There seem to be two extremes in opinions on life with two children. That it’s all going to be constantly challenging (e.g. the nurse) and at the other end of the spectrum, that it’s all roses (Horrible morning sickness? All worth it! Two people tandem screaming ‘mummeee’ at 4am? But they’ll play together nicely!)

We’d been happily relaxed and took our time thinking about a second. And I never felt any pressure to rush into it – unlike Kate and William and the omnipresent, never ending royal womb watch – and we wanted a fairly decent age gap, which I think we’re getting.

But still, sometimes, mainly when I wake at 3am needing the loo – oh, pregnancy – I think ‘yikes! What are we doing?’

Here’s a collection of the contradictory thoughts I’m thinking about three plus one…the truth about two children:

1) Having had a newborn, and now a toddler, I know it’s not going to make it easier to add a newborn into the toddler mix (especially as we don’t live near relatives who can help out)

2) However, having had a newborn, I know it can’t ever be that bad as the shock and awe of the first time round. And we’ll – hopefully – remember what to do (the ‘stick a boob in their direction’ strategy, basically). And everything kind of clicks into place after a few months, doesn’t it?

3) We will have an age gap of just under three years, which is pretty manageable. Eliza gets easier and easier, and knows what’s happening, will be more self autonomous and play independently…

4)…right?

5) Lots of people have more than two, don’t they? So it can’t be all that bad.

6) But I’ll never have any time to myself again, will I?

7) However lovely it will be when they play together, this probably won’t be on my mind when they’re both screaming, no-one’s slept and I haven’t washed my hair in a week

8) But thinking about how lovely two of them will be…I had one of those planet-aligning moments of clarity with Eliza this weekend, when she was putting me ‘to sleep’ on the floor in a bed made of cushions, a blanket and Buzz Lightyear. I saw her little grinning face and thought about how amazing she is, and how life-affirming it all is, and how it can only be better with two.

I know there are going to be good days, and bad weeks, and late nights, and no sleep, and then there’s love and happy times – and the giant wines – that make it all better.

And I’m hoping the truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle.

So tell me…two children; what’s your honest verdict? I can take it, really *braces self* What’s the truth about two children?

What's the truth about two children? Make sure you read this if you're pregnant with your second or have a new baby - and an older child

 

19 Comments

  • Kate

    April 29, 2014 at 8:48 am

    I’ve just found out I’m pregnant with no.2 and we’re going to have a smaller age gap than you (23 months) and although we were trying and I’m so happy it worked so easily I am hoping desperately that I’m not wishing I had a little more patience this time next year!

    All I hear about having two is how it is hard work but then having a first baby is hard work and it all works out. I’m in happy denial and hoping to keep it that way!

  • Jess @ Along Came Cherry

    April 29, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I found the first six months so much easier than I thought it would be. Babies are a breeze the second time round but I’m not going to lie, the last six months have been HARD!!! Mainly due to J crying endlessly for hours every day. He didn’t make a sound for the first 5 months! With him screaming and Cherry being a typical three year old most days I’m dreaming of a glass of wine come teatime but it is all totally worth it. We feel like so much more of a family now, before it was just us with a baby. And the times when you see signs of a relationship growing between the two siblings is the best thing ever x

  • Rachel

    April 29, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I think in the end, you won’t look back and remember the hard graft for the first six months; you’ll remember the relationship with them both & them with each other, and be pleased that you went for it.

    As for me? Still not decided on when is the right time.

  • Jesse Lili

    April 29, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    It’s interesting reading your post! It never crossed my mind all the thought process that goes into having a second child (or more!). I’m grateful that my mom decided to have my sister (we have a 3 years difference) in spite of all the things that could have scared her and that you mention rightly. It’s been wonderful growing up with someone else and I should really just thank her for that. Thank you for sharing!

  • Rachel – 3yearsandhome

    April 29, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Here’s my truth. I found being pregnant and having a toddler much harder than having a new born and a toddler. The pregnancy was a lot more tiring than when BB was actually born. The newborn phase was a lot more enjoyable second time around – a whole lot more, so much more that I don’t think I could ever top what a nice time it was. Now the boys are three and one, it’s enjoyable but very, very tiring, mainly because my eldest is not the best of sleepers. On a good night’s sleep, I can conquer the world. For me, organisation and routine are key. If you can keep on top of things, you’ll be more than fine. I parent solo for pretty much 80 percent of the time – I’m far from a super mum so I don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about xx

  • Shirley

    April 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Start training Eliza now, i.e. Fetch Mummy a nappy, now fetch Mummy the wipes, reach the biscuit tin for Mummy, use the tv remote control.
    You will experience the first few zombie months during the pre Christmas time and when Spring comes around you will be organized and in a routine to be able to enjoy it.

  • Natalie

    April 29, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Hello!
    I’ve got a 2&1/2 year old and 12 week old baby, so feel I can share! Having the baby is soooo much easier than 1st time round, I wonder how I found it all so hard with my first baby! The first time I had to look after them both on my own I was petrified but now it’s fine, baby has to go along with toddler usually. I’ve kept toddler in nursery 2 days a week which gives me precious time with baby too. All in all, it’s hardwork but totally amazing. And yes, there’s always wine for those days when everything seems to just fall apart! Congratulations & good luck x

  • Adele @ Circus Queen

    April 29, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    It’s only been 9 weeks but so far it really hasn’t been too bad. There have been days that have felt SO long but mostly once I’ve been organised (arranged things to do, places to go , people to see, packed the night before, got up for a shower before Laurence leaves) we’ve been ok. Babies really are easier the second time around. I have not got as stressed at all. What’s tricky though is learning to parent an almost three year old while looking after a newborn but even that is not unmanageable. Ophelia sleeps through the night though so if she starts waking up around 4 months as most babies do, I may well start to feel differently!! That said, today has been really stressful with both of them (they’re finally both asleep in the car – we’re parked up in our drive and Ophelia’s on me) but it doesn’t even nearly compare to the stress of Talitha’s newborn days.

  • Rachel

    April 29, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I would second the commenter above and say that, while you still worry, the newborn phase is just gorgeous the second time around. So much that I’d forgotten about in the chaos of toddlerhood. And yes, the first three months are insane and we didn’t get anywhere close to routine for six months, but watching a sibling relationship develop between them has just been the most joyful thing.

    I wrote about this a little while ago, if it’s helpful! http://makealongstoryshort.net/2014/02/06/pregnancy-crib-notes-some-things-i-wish-id-known-about-two/

  • abigail

    April 29, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Over the past year or so whenever I toy with the idea of the second I constantly having conflicting thoughts like these! It’s reassuring it’s not just me, and I do have to constantly remind myself that so many people have more than one child so it is definitely do-able…hard? But do-able!

  • laura redburn

    April 29, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    wish i had something to add! any person that can cope with two little ones is pretty darn special though 🙂

  • Alice

    April 29, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    I definitely prepared myself for the worst before Hux came along, and I often wonder if that’s why I found it kind of easy. The second baby just kind of slotted into our life and it was all quite rosy 🙂

    The sleep deprivation things was a total bitch with two but hey, nobody expects you to get out of your PJs for the first two months when you have two children so anything is an achievement.

    There’s a mum at E’s preschool who has 3 under 4. She’s a hero. Or mental, I can’t decide.

  • Polly

    April 29, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    two wasn’t so bad 😉 as someone else said, i found it harder being pregnant with a toddler than having a newborn and a toddler. And as soon as number two was big enough, all she wanted to do was play with her big sister and always had someone to entertain her! Number three was even easier 😉

  • PhotoPuddle

    April 29, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Honest truth? Having two children has been amazing. Even though I actually dreaded being pregnant again I knew I really wanted a sibling for my daughter. It was really important to me. They are now aged 5 and 2 and are the best of friends.
    I can’t imagine how hard having a very small age gap would be but the gap between my two is perfect. My daughter had always been so grown up for her age so she was a perfect big sister. She’s always been such a huge help with her little brother and so far no jealousy.
    My biggest advice would be making sure you have good time management. Just getting anywhere and doing anything can take forever. Especially in the newborn days make sure you start getting ready to go out about an hour before you have to leave the house!
    Oh and one more thing. When you have two children you will look back on the time you just had one and wonder why you ever moaned about anything. It must have been so easy!!

  • lori

    April 29, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    I always think about this when considering another child, but I think the short term sacrifice of sleep and potential disagreements between siblings is outweighs by the sibling love. x

  • Lynn @ more4mums

    April 30, 2014 at 10:20 am

    I have the same gap between my 2 girls and it was just perfect. The older one was at playgroup and then nursery so I still had some time with my baby on her own and big sister was old enough to understand what was going on.

    My advice would be to stock up on distraction activities for the older one, lots of colouring, cutting and little games she can do when you are busy feeding etc We got her a subscription to the cbeebies magazine and was the best money spent ever !
    My daughter had a little desk she sat at and looked forward to doing her “book” when mummy was busy. There were moments when it all went a bit pear shaped but nothing is every perfect.

    They are now great friends who play together and squabble like all siblings should.

  • Chloe

    April 30, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    The thing is, you just get on with it because you know you wouldn’t have it any other way. Then when things get easier, you look back and think “Blimey, that was tough going. How did I cope??” Bit like having your first baby, really.

  • Grace Powell

    April 30, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    I grew up in a very small family with only one sibling. I’d say it’s a bit lonely, so I really wanted to have 5 children. And I do have them now, and I cannot be happier. It is hard though, bringing them up. But it’s also rewarding, fulfilling and just plain amazing to be surrounded by children who you love and loves you back as well. They serve as a breath of fresh air whenever I am stressed out and tired from work. And I’m sure they’re happy to have 4 siblings! I think that having a big family is a huge decision that requires prior planning and preparation. First thing in my priority list when I was still planning my family was to make it a point that I am more than able to feed them and provide for all their needs and possibly spoil them on some of their wants. It turned out exactly the way I imagined it to be. 🙂

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