Family / Family-building / Parenting

All Kinds of Changes that Come with a Second Child

We have been slowly acclimating to the new “normal” over here at the FaB house with the arrival of kid number two. It’s been seven weeks, which feels like both forever and the blink of an eye. So what really changed when we had a second kid?

Double snuggles

Double snuggles

1. Sleep, and lack thereof

Everyone knows sleep changes with an infant, but I had forgotten how drastically the amount of sleep we were getting changed. The silver lining of our 3.5 year old still not quite sleeping through the night is that I never reacclimated to getting a night of uninterrupted sleep. When our first kid was a baby we could do the whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” thing. That’s just not an option with a preschooler. Now, someone needs to be at least awake enough to put Daniel Tiger on before desperately trying to steal another 20 minutes of sleep in an attempt to make 5 hours of sleep do the work of 8.

2. Tidiness? Do piles count as tidy?

While our house has never looked like a magazine layout, it certainly was tidier before we had a second kid. All the articles about the top 7 Ways to Organize or Top 11 Things You are Cleaning Wrong that put forth this effortless image of raising small children can make it hard when you don’t and can’t meet an unrealistic image of a what a household looks like. I’m learning to just let go of not having a perfectly neat house. Little Bear gallops and twirls and jumps through our house, creating complicated play story arcs and setting up “festivals” where every stuffed animal in the house needs to be lined up. We cook and bake and eat and laugh in our house. We rarely get all the dishes cleaned every night. We make art in our house, often messy. I try to remind myself that it’s our home and it’s ok that it looks lived in because we do live here.

3. Laundry explosion

Some mathematician needs to study why it is that laundry appears to increase exponentially not proportionally when you have a baby. Just this week we’ve had to wash our sheets three days in a row because of diaper blow outs. I don’t understand how such a little person can generate so much laundry. He even has the whole “second child only gets an outfit change if it’s really messy” thing going for him. There is laundry everywhere. Clean folded laundry, clean laundry to be folded, cloth diapers to be reassembled, dirty laundry (usually in a designated spot in a bedroom at least), and clothes that have maybe been worn for a moment then discarded in favor of another item of clothing. Full disclosure, it’s not just the 3.5 year old who does that. I am as likely to put on a shirt or shorts and reject it five minutes later without returning the rejected item to its drawer.

4. Relationship with your partner and your other kid

It’s even harder to carve out time to talk with your partner about anything other than your children or coordinating groceries and whether or not the cats have been fed. I knew, especially in the first few months after birth, that how we spent our time with each other and Little Bear was going to change but it’s still been an adjustment. We’ve tried to make sure that both of us get one-on-one time with Little Bear and our baby and have even attempted trying to get each of us moments of alone time. Being able to get out and do things, even grocery shopping, all together has been nice to mitigate the feeling of tagging out on who is responsible for what kid.

"Surprise! I'm not sleeping!"

“Surprise! I’m not sleeping!”

5. Sibling interactions

I have been pretty delighted watching Little Bear as a big sibling. I am excited to see how their relationship grows and develops. She sings him lullabies (often at full volume, but it’s the thought that counts), wants to hold him and touch him, and likes to chatter at him in baby talk. She calls him “Fire Extinguisher” and likes to tell him about what they’ll do when he’s a kid like her instead of a baby. It’s not all adorableness. When he’s crying and she is listening to music or watching something and can’t hear it, she sometimes covers her ears and starts screaming that she can’t hear which shockingly doesn’t help.

I asked Little Bear what she liked best about having a sibling. She considered and said “I like it when he smiles at me when I make him smile. And I like to look at his poop.”

If you have more than one, what’s surprised you about having more than one kid?

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2 Comments

  1. We don’t have a second child — we are one and done, but I loved your article. When Daniel arrrived in our house (we were pregnent for two weeks) we had to scramble for everything during his arrival. So our house too looked a bit chaotic and out of whack with two dogs, two lesbians and a preemie.

    Enjoy your new one.

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