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Transitioning from One to Two Kids
Just as you learn to navigate your new life with your firstborn, your second comes along and shakes things up (in the best way possible, of course). We asked new parents of two what made the transition so special – and what took them by surprise.
The Best Thing about Going from One to Two Children
Laura: Watching your first child become an older sibling. As many parents are before having their second child, I was nervous and a little sad that my time with my first daughter would now have to be shared and I worried how this change would impact her. We spent a lot of time prepping her for this big transition in the last couple of months of my pregnancy. It was amazing to see that she handled the transition so well and to watch her immediately love and care for her new baby sister. And it only gets better over time! My second is now just over one year old and while there are certainly natural instances of the usual sibling rivalry, I could watch them play and laugh together all day.
Naoko: It is amazing that two humans could be from the exact same genetic pool, but turn out to be such different people. That’s one of the really cool things about going from one to two children. You get to see the different personalities working together under the same roof, learning to co-exist, sharing space, experiences, things, and parents’ attention. They fight, but they negotiate. They love, but also hurt each other’s feelings (and then come back to love again). Watching them try to navigate their relationship – and in the process, learn about working with others – is what I find to be one of the more fascinating things about having two children.
Allison: Seeing the relationship grow between my kids. My son is 3 and my daughter is 10 months old, and in the past couple of months I’ve loved seeing them start to play together and interact without prompting from my husband or myself. My son will play peek-a-boo with my daughter and is (typically) very patient with her when they are sharing toys. I am an only child myself, so I’ve really enjoyed seeing their sibling relationship develop.
Tara: When we were thinking about having a second child, I was scared about the possibility. We had a good dynamic going in our family. The three of us did everything together and yet we each had time to ourselves. I worried about how another child would affect our rhythm, but nothing could prepare me for the beaming face of my older son as he met his little brother for the first time. It was love at first sight; the boys have an instant playmate. Even though they love each other and play together, they also want to have their own time with us and their own alone time to play with their toys. Going from one to two has made me appreciate my older son even more. Seeing how he helps his little brother with his food, or gives him hugs and kisses when he falls makes my heart grow even more. I could not imagine life without our second son.
Evan: I love knowing that we’ll be able to relive all of the memories that we made with my oldest, all over again with my youngest. Things like celebrating special milestones – crawling, walking, talking, experiencing Disney World for the first time, playing sports – and getting to develop that special father-son bond all over again.
Aili: Knowing my eldest is not alone. He’ll have a playmate growing up, and they’ll have each other as older adults after my husband and I are long gone. Just the knowledge that they will have each other to fall back on and get support from makes me happy. Are they going to be best friends for life – who knows? But they will always be brothers.
The Most Surprising Thing about Going from One to Two
Laura: The most surprising thing about going from 1 to 2 children is how much change there is! By now you’re used to learning and growing with each developmental stage, be it starting solids, learning to walk, or the terrible twos. But for me, on top of those transitions, I found myself learning to balance two schedules and two very different sets of needs. Going from building forts and playing dress-up back to cleaning up blowouts requires some flexibility! My husband and I each taking time for ourselves meant that the other parent was now solo and outnumbered—and with that comes a bit of guilt and lots more planning. And don’t forget the different personalities! I became very accustomed to my older daughter’s temperament, but learned very quickly that I needed to reset my expectations for not only caring for a baby but a baby who has a completely different set of wants and needs than my first daughter did.
Naoko: I kept hearing that going from one to two children can be more than double the work but I don’t think I quite believed it. The amount of work and fatigue definitely took me by surprise at the very beginning. It is also much more challenging to find time for things other than working and parenting, so I’m surprised and very impressed by those supermoms who figure out how to carve out time for big projects like training for a marathon, working on a higher degree, renovating the house, or even finding time to meditate!
Allison: How different two individual kids can be! My son was a very easy infant – he slept through the night very early on and wasn’t very fussy at all. He was very laid-back as a baby. My daughter has been the complete opposite! She woke up multiple times a night for several months and really demands a lot of attention. Even at 10 months she still wakes up much earlier than my son ever did. So it’s been surprising getting used to their two distinct personalities and behaviors. I’m sure that will continue as they both grow as well!
Tara: How vastly different my two children are in every way possible. From the way they look to their personalities — they sometimes feel like night and day. They are growing up in the same environment but where one is excited and running around every second of every day, the other likes to take his time. Because they are so different their interests also vary, which means a lot more toys and other stuff – oh, the stuff! The most surprising thing about going from one to two is the amount of stuff that accumulates in our home. I thought that the younger one, being the same gender, could use most of the toys and clothes that my older son grew out of. Boy, was I wrong. Some clothes can be used, but where one son was long and lean, the other is not. I wish that I could have prepared myself and my home better for going from one to two!
Evan: Just how little time is left at the end of the day. Life seemed so hectic with only one child. But little did we know that with two, the week – especially the work week – feels like a marathon that you’re just trying to get out of alive! Funny, I used to think taking care of one child for a few hours was this big, monumental accomplishment; now, when those opportunities arise, I embrace it and look at it like a nice, little break.
Aili: I am questioning my parenting choices so much more now. Maybe it was overconfidence and a bit of fear of the unknown that had me plowing through my parenting challenges with one kid. But with two it’s a different story… half the time I am completely winging it and the other half I am running on less sleep and more caffeine than ever.
What was the best and most surprising thing about expanding your family from one to two children?