Perhaps the emotional and financial strain of the pandemic has got you seriously considering the question of whether you will add another child to your family. Is now the best time? Is this the best decision for my partner, me, and our firstborn? In our Evanston therapy practice, we hear many women grappling with the answers to these questions. We are here to listen to you, to ease any anxiety and to offer you hope.
Okay, Google, what are women saying about the transition from 1 to 2 kids?
A Google search may leave you even more baffled. The experiences relayed by women vary widely. Some women will tell you that going from 0 to 1 child was infinitely harder than the transition to 2 kids. Good to hear. Others will swear that the early days of being the mom of two almost did them in. Many women say that the beginning will be challenging. Yet, they assure that things will get better. Take some advice from Dory, just keep swimming!
We are also here to offer some warm encouragement, calm any anxiety, and give you a little practical advice as you transition from one to two kids. Our Evanston therapists can reassure you that your concerns are normal and can give you some concrete tools to help you manage the stress.
In the 1-to-2 kid transition, would I love a second child as much as my firstborn?
This question weighs heavily on most women and is the elephant in the room taking up all of the space in our Evanston therapy office.
Most moms express that nothing will replace the intense feelings or connection they have with their first child. Having this child changed your status in the world. Along with daughter, friend, aunt, business owner, or career woman, you added a new title. Mother.
Perhaps the love for your firstborn has a magical quality because having them made you a momma. You experienced all of the extraordinary “firsts” with them. Indeed, this type of love will probably not be duplicated for each child you have. But, there is another delightful surprise that awaits you as a mom of 2.
The love for your second child
The love you create for your second child will have its own power. In our sessions with moms in our Evanston therapy practice, we remind them of this truth.
Moms report that each of their children brings out different qualities in them. This dynamic changes the nature of the relationship, and the love you have with that child.
Your firstborn might be the child that leads you into your creative side. Perhaps they always request to design something with all of the craft supplies in your home. Paints? Glitter glue? Popsicle sticks? Check! They draw you into a focused construction of a Lego city in a magical underwater world.
Your second born knows no strangers. You’re bound to make new friends on your trail walks. You find yourself becoming more extraverted and initiating conversations with people in the grocery store.
You will learn as they grow and develop how you are enhanced (and sometimes challenged) by their differences. The love for your second child contrasts with the love of your firstborn, yet is still vibrant.
Little by little, you will find yourself drawing from a well of a different type of love. Moms of two or more kids say they never anticipated how seeing a relationship grow between their children would warm their hearts. Their love for their children grew as they saw them play together and begin to love each other.
You’ve already had one kid, that has to count for something, right?
Mothering is a work of art, and anyone will tell you that there is always room for improvement. But, this isn’t your first rodeo; you’ve already had a child. With child #2, you will be no stranger to little sleep, finding time for yourself, or big swings in your emotions (thank you, hormones!).
You might be thinking, “I’ve got this, I’ve done this before!” Yes, that’s true.
Moms of 2 kids will also tell you that you will have to learn to do a different kind of juggling.
A usual outing to toddler time at the library may remind you that you are in an alternate universe with two kids. Two car seats, two kids in tow, two kids to manage and keep track of during an activity. Entirely doable, but may need to have different strategies in place.
In the transition from 1 to 2 kids, you may miss that time to catch up on your sleep during naptime. When your youngest sleeps may not be at the same time that your older child chooses to take a nap. You may also feel that you want to take advantage of that time to play and offer your full attention to your oldest child..
Having two kids will require you to think differently about the pieces of your lives. As you contemplate an addition to your family, you will want to reflect on what those changes might be. What kind of strategies can you put into place to make the transition smooth?
Streamlining and simplifying your life may ease the transition from 1 to 2 kids
In the early days of being a family of four, mealtime may seem like a huge stressor. A great shower gift might be a meal prep subscription. Grocery delivery may also be a time-saving way to go. Upon your request, friends or family might pitch in to provide meals, too.
Your standards and expectations for a clean house or neatly folded laundry may need to be modified. You may have to let those close to you know that you haven’t forgotten about them. It may just take you longer to reply to a text or an email.
Being intentional about how you want to structure your days, can help to lessen the initial tension while you get used to your new normal.
What kind of a daily rhythm would work best for you and your family? Which people or things will you have to let go of to create the greatest harmony in this season of life?
What can wait indefinitely? What can wait for a while? Which moments can you set aside for 1:1 time with your older child and spouse? Where can you have moments to take a walk, grab an uninterrupted shower or simply sit and scroll?
Carving out time for your older child and your partner
It will be normal for your older child to experience some jealousy when your newborn arrives. After all, they have often been the primary focus of your time and attention. That will change for them once the baby comes. You can acknowledge their feelings and their fears.
Remind them that your heart is SO BIG, big enough to have a special love for both of them. There may be times that you will need them to wait and to be patient, but you will do your best to make sure that the two of you still have special activities together. You might devise age-appropriate tasks for your older child to help with the baby. These new responsibilities will give them a special role in your family
Dealing with both children, you may not have extra energy or time for your partner. Grab the moments where you can reconnect. Thirty minutes of cuddling on the couch while both of your children are asleep may become your new normal.
As you consider the decision to add a child to your family, you may want to determine how you will change the current dynamic between you, your older child, and your partner.
Surviving the transition from 1 to 2 kids
Some seasons of life with two kids will be harder, and some seasons will be easier. One of the best things to remember is to give yourself much grace as you navigate the transition. You will be managing an enormous life change.
If you’d like to talk with an Evanston therapist about what it would be like for you to add a child to your family, we would be honored to walk with you on this journey. Click the button and set up a free, 15-minute session.
Let’s see how we might work together in therapy to ease the anxiety of transitioning from 1 to 2 kids.
Our hearts are for women at this period in their lives.