Welcoming our second child certainly brought a shift in our family dynamic. My almost-three-year old was no longer the only child, and soon realized there was a new kid in town stealing some of mom’s and dad’s attention.
We let our second baby’s sex stay a mystery until delivery day, and were over the moon when we were surprised with another baby boy. My heart swelled when I imagined the lifetime of memories and bonding between my two boys. Brothers. A special bond that I likened to growing up with my sister.
Adding a new baby to a comfortable family of three brought new challenges. Different from the shock of bringing home your first child, figuring out life with two kids is a whole new experience. Learning how to spread yourself to meet the needs of both a newborn baby and a toddler whose world just got turned upside is exhausting.
But everyone adjusted to a new routine relatively quickly and it’s hard to imagine what life was like before our happy second boy joined our family. Ten months later, there’s a few things I’ve learned about raising two littles.
1. The sibling bickering starts early.
I warned my oldest son for months that as soon as his little brother could move around, he would be chasing after him. His toys and personal space would be free reign if they were within his little brother’s reach. Now that I have a curious mobile baby, he loves to explore. Ownership and personal space mean nothing to him, nor does keeping his hands and mouth to himself.
I’m already hearing my three-year old whine, “He’s touching me! Stop!” Sometimes the baby responds to this griping with a high-pitched screech.
I try to explain that his brother is a baby and doesn’t understand what he’s doing. He’s just exploring his world. And he loves his big brother and wants to be near him. The three-year old cares about none of this.
2. Synchronizing their sleep is next to impossible
Baby sleep is not my forte. I struggled with my first son and getting him to fall and stay asleep alone as a baby. My tender mama heart couldn’t bear to hear him wail alone in his crib. He’s always fought sleep, and that hasn’t changed. When the baby goes down for a nap and exhaustion hits me, I have to cross my fingers that stars will align and my three-year old will actually lay down and sleep too. It’s hit or miss.
Then comes night time. The baby goes down early, just in time for the hours-long process of getting the three-year old to sleep. And just as my head hits the pillow, the baby is up. I get him to settle back down just in time for the three-year old to wake up and shuffle to my bed. It’s a vicious cycle of short-lived sleep for this mama.
3. I basically run my own small restaurant
No one in our house eats the same thing. Ever. The baby still takes breast milk and is just beginning to explore the world of table food. The three-year old eats whatever I didn’t cook. My husband eats a hodge-podge of leftovers. And I eat a plate of cold food after everyone else has been fed. It is a skill set I have yet to master to plan a menu that everyone can agree on.
My experience in raising two young kiddos I’m sure is a common one. This is an exhausting and challenging stage of parenting. You constantly wonder if you are spreading yourself too thin, or if you are giving your best to your kids. But while having two children has brought new challenges, the love that I have for them, and the love that will grow between them is unbreakable.