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Take Two: 10 things you learn when you have a second kid

Laura Side Street Style

15 November 2017

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4 minutes
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Becoming a parent is one of the most amazing things a person can do, but boy is it a shock to the system: so much love, so many nappies and so little time, we are thrown into something that is pretty hard to prepare for until you're fully immersed in it. No amount of books can tell you how tired you will be, or how full your heart is with pride every time they learn something new.

Two brother sitting on a sofa at home

Luckily there is more support out there than ever but still, as a society, we often sugar coat most things and have blinkers on to how blissful it all appears - not quite the reality we face on a daily basis. Having your first child is, of course, the most life-changing moment in every way and once you get over the shock of that, we can quickly go to thinking about doing it all over again - we must be mad. Just as you start to regain a little bit of your pre-baby self, have a manageable sleeping routine and may even enjoy a little socialising again, you're ready to re-enter the world of newborns.

They tell us the second baby will just slot in, we believe them, but once again we get ready to enter the world of the unknown. It's 100% worth it, but here are 10 things to expect when you're expecting baby number two...

  1. You realise you're much more confident as a parent

    The one thing that really struck me the second time around was realising how far I had come from when I first brought home my eldest. I really didn't know what to do, I was filled with self-doubt and completely scared of getting it wrong. The second time though I felt far more self-assured, I didn't doubt my parenting skills nearly as much and I knew I would be able to cope no matter how sleep deprived I was - that is something to be proud of.

  2. It's not much more work, right?

    Ahh no, it’s exactly double the amount of work, another child is another child. If like me, you're tired just having one to run around after, well two is literally double that. Of course, I wouldn't change it for anything but so many people had told me during my second pregnancy that it was going to be so much easier with two. Some things like breastfeeding, babywearing and baby-led weaning became easier because you learn how to do them whilst still keeping two hands free. The main bonus is that your home is already all set up, you have everything you need (probably less than you thought you needed the first time around!) and you have some idea about what to expect - totally the right time to adopt the 'work smarter not harder' mantra. 

    Laura with her husband and two kids sat on the beach

  3. There is always room in your heart

    When you have your first child I honestly believe your idea of love changes. Your heart expands in a way you cannot describe and sometimes it can be hard to believe that when it’s so full that there is any space for more, but there truly is. As soon as your next child is born, any fears you may have had are laid to rest as your heart expands even more as if there was always a place for them.

  4. When it comes to their development, you're in less of a rush

    With my first child, I couldn't wait for him to roll over, start crawling and take his first steps, but with my second I really valued the newborn stage, being content with long sleepy cuddles and basically staying in one place. Every single child develops at their own pace, so whilst my eldest took his time, my youngest has been raring to go since day one and starting walking just before 10 months. As happy as I was, I couldn't believe the baby stage was over so quickly; the second time around certainly makes you more mindful of time.

  5. Siblings - Friend or Foe?

    Of course one of the biggest positives of having more children is that your eldest child now has a sibling, but it’s not always love at first sight. It can be hard for a child of any age to adjust to suddenly becoming an older brother or sister and that needs to be acknowledged in a loving and supportive way. It took my eldest a while to accept it and sometimes that is still the case nearly three years on. We have got to the stage where they are either best friends or enemies and half of my day is either looking at them play together with a heart full of happiness or pulling them apart, there doesn't seem to be much in-between. That is the reality of parenting and something that is likely to continue for years, just don't get too disheartened if your family isn't always the perfect picture of harmony. 

    Two brothers hide in a tree trunk

  6. Tiredness takes on another level

    Yes, it was hard the first time, but it certainly takes on a new level the second time around. We managed to muddle through and that strength and resilience is something to celebrate, along with telling ourselves it will get better (it’s got to get better right?)

  7. You learn to relax

    With my first, he didn't have chocolate until he was way past 1yrs old, sugar was pretty much banned for the first three years, everything was organic, we hardly did any screen time and didn't even consider a tablet until he was nearly 5. For survival and my sanity, I realised I had to relax the second time around. Whilst I still try to make ethical choices in the scheme of things, as long as they are fed, happy, clean and healthy it really doesn't matter if the banana bread was homemade or not while they sit and watch CBeebies on the tablet. It's all about balance.

    An older brother walking down the road holding his younger brother's hand

  8. Learn to love online food shopping

    I have always loved cooking and enjoyed the weekly shop to see what was new in-store and be inspired. This is hard with just one child because let's be frank, they don't find supermarket shopping that interesting and would rather be out of the trolley running down the aisles causing havoc. Even with the best intentions, with two kids you simply don't have enough hands. If you want to put yourself through some kind of mental and physical nightmare then take two or more young children to a supermarket - I give it five minutes before you're heading home to do an online shop.

  9. They make great travel buddies

    Travel with one child is fun but I think with two it makes it so much more interesting! It often serves for great bonding time as travelling somewhere new doesn't always guarantee the chance to socialise with other children of similar ages, so I have seen my kids becoming closer because of it. They also have different interests which means you often plan trips around this and the whole family gets to experience more - winner.

    A dad laughing with his two sons

  10. It gets easier and you grow together

    Going from a family of three to four takes some adjusting for everyone and it doesn't happen overnight, sanity is certainly stretched when you hit the toddler years and you spend most of your time running after them, making sure they are safe and happy. It’s all of bit of survival in the early years but you do grow together as a unit, getting stronger each and every day and I know eventually I will get eight hours sleep, one day...

How did you prepare for the arrival of baby number two, or what are your tips for surviving those early years? Let us know in a comment below, or check out the ten things you learn when you have a third kid, or hear from Susie and Greg about their adventures since welcoming baby Rex!

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Laura Side Street Style

15 November 2017

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Laura runs a popular family lifestyle and travel blog Side Street Style where she showcases her passion for travel, style, ethical living and photography. Laura is one of our much loved Trusted Explorers, which means all content has been written exclusively for dayoutwiththekids.co.uk in exchange for a contribution to their family piggy bank. All posts are first hand, honest and based on real experiences.

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