A few weeks ago, I reached out to my community of amazing women and asked for some advice on becoming a mother of two children.
I asked only one question: “What do you wish someone had told you about having a second baby?” I was blown away by the responses I received. Women from across the country, with children of all ages, opened up and spoke honestly about their experiences of being a mother to multiple children.
At first I was thinking I would condense their words and only publish a few, little quotable bits. But as the responses started rolling in, I decided instead to publish everything as a mini-series of guest posts. I have learned so much from reading the words of these incredible women. Whether you are (like me) currently expecting your second child or are a veteran parent of multiples, I hope you are also able to benefit from hearing the stories and perspectives these women have shared…
In this third installment of the series, a mother of a three year old girl and a newborn boy shares her impressions of parenting two young children.
Real Advice for Mothers Expecting A Second Child – Part 3
“Given that my baby boy is only 9 weeks old, I still am in the thick of it. I miss my older daughter terribly AND she drives me crazy more than ever before. I miss the intimacy of our days alone. We always had fun things we planned, silly games we played and lots of cuddles. These experiences are much less these days given that I am often nursing and tending to my baby boy. Further, she is resentful at times of her brother, and while she is sweet to him, she is somewhat distant from me. This absolutely breaks my heart. She tests boundaries a lot more than usual these days and has more tantrums. She also has started using baby talk again…. I have cried many times wondering if parenthood is no longer this deeply intimate thing, but now more of a management of the chaos. I imagine for a good period of time this will be true. I look forward to the days when they play together. My daughter is already so interested in her brother and he smiles at her more than anyone, so I know it’s only a matter of time.
I also realized before my son was born that personal time would be diminished, but it’s impossible to recognize the impact of this until you live it. There is no longer a chance to lie down for two minutes or pass the kid off to your partner while you take a moment. I am always on with one kid or another, as is my husband. I WANT to be on, because these are my kids and they deserve it, but it is exhausting in a way I didn’t imagine. Further, having energy for a toddler when your newborn has been up a lot of the night is challenging. I’ve learned to act peppy and engaged when in reality I am completely zonked. I feel guilty daily that I don’t have enough for either of my kids and worry that they can tell that I am just trying to get through the day…. Also, say goodbye to a connection with your partner for a while. Conversation becomes, “here you take this kid while I do this with the other kid.”
I know this seems dismal, and it’s probably because I am so new to being a parent for two. It’s a huge adjustment, but I can honestly write that it’s getting easier. We are all adjusting and creating a new normal. My son has started doing an eight-hour stretch at night, which makes a world of difference. Further, I have set aside a three hour chunk every Wednesday for my daughter and I to go out and have special time. She gets to choose what we do. I await Wednesday eagerly. I grieved the upcoming change in our relationship before my son was born, but I truly had no sense of how much I would miss her even though she is right next to me oftentimes. This has been the hardest part.
Things I’ve learned to help me manage:
- Special time set aside each week that your toddler (and you!) can count on.
- Have your newborn take a bottle so that you have some freedom
- Don’t hesitate to call on help. You will need an hour or two a week to refuel, whether that means going on a walk or cleaning your house.
- Oh – your house will no longer be clean and tidy in the way you are used to.
- Commiserate often with other moms of two. I have formed many new and deep friendships in the past two months simply because they are a mom of two! It’s so different than a mom of one.”
– SS, mother of two, ages 3 years and 9 weeks