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Life with a Second Child

Six and half months ago we were celebrating our first Christmas as a foursome. How different it was from our previous festivities. Baby Jules was only a couple of days old, and I was utterly exhausted and in terrible pain. Trying to make the day magical and special for young Jasper was difficult, and I felt stretched beyond anything I had felt before.

I have previously written about the steep learning curve I’ve experienced in my parenting since Jules’s arrival (read more here). I am continuing to learn, and there are many things I now know to be true. Once a trio, ‘the three musketeers’, our family unit was a triangle – each of us a point with the ability to reach out and always touch the other two points. Now we are sides of a square and, in our foursome, stretched to the edges. But we do feel like a team, a puzzle with it’s missing piece found, and I love that about our little unit.

These are my 12 facts of life since we have welcomed a second child to our family. Over time, as the kids get older, I am sure many of these feelings and emotions will have changed. But for now, with a six month old and a four year old, we are still finding our way. These are how things currently stand – the good, the bad and the ugly:

Nothing in life prepares you for the exhaustion of parenthood. It is relentless. You never get a vacay from the tiredness you experience while raising small people. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a support system nearby, and have some time away from your kids, the tiredness is so deep that it would take years of hibernation to undo the damage. With a second child in the family, my exhaustion has more than doubled. Weird maths, but true.

2. Time 

Much like the speed at which the pregnancy of our second child passed, time has flashed by like lightening since her arrival. It was only yesterday that Jules was born. Now she is sitting and feeding on solids. Where did the last six months just go? How do we slow down time? There never seem to be enough hours in the day because life is now running on overdrive.

3. Money
Or lack there of… raising a child costs a lot of money. Raising a second child costs even more money. Factor in nursery fees, after-school clubs, groceries, household bills, insurance, transport costs, children’s clothing and there is not much left at the end of each month. We never take for granted that we have a lot more than millions of people around the world. We have jobs and a new home. We have love and we have each other. These are our treasures.

4. Social Life
Like many of my friends before me, since having kids my social engagements have declined. Items 1, 2 and 3 above are mostly to blame for this, but I have also found that many of my urban friends have moved further afield to accommodate their families. The arrival of the second child seems to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back – sadly, I have lost touch with some friends since the expansion of our families. Like so many parents, for now, we get our social kicks through the birthday parties, parent evenings and club gatherings of our children. Whoop! Whoop! 

5. Housework

We have always tried to keep a clean and tidy home, but small people create A LOT of mess. Since having a second child, I am now embracing the chaos. I have to appreciate that the whole house will never be clean all at the same time, and can only dream of a cleaning service coming in to do the job for us. Some days the bathroom might get cleaned, but the bedrooms may not have been dusted for a while. The laundry pile never seems to end and often it can take a couple of days just to wash, dry, fold and put a load of laundry away. It is a never ending cycle. Fact.

6. Preparation
If you plan on leaving the house, with small children, before midday then you have to plan ahead and be prepared. Sadly, impromptu trips out for the whole family are on the decline because it takes us so long to get everyone ready and out the house. However, if we are prepared then we can pack change bags and snacks the night before, lay clothes out for the morning and hurry our breakfast to enjoy a day out together. With the start of Jasper’s schooling fast approaching, this is something we’re going to have to practice to ensure we make the school run on time!

7. Older Child
With a new baby in the family, it is only natural to expect their sibling to be a bit more mature and responsible. This seems unfair as the older child may still be little and need the same love and attention as before. I have, however, found that Jasper has relished being a ‘big brother’ and will happily be my helper. He beams with pride at his little sister, and loves it when we tell him stories about what he used to do when he was a baby. Jasper does have moments when the immaturity of his age shows through and, with two children, that is when the days feel longer and more exhausting.

8. TV
I hate to admit it, but the TV has become our friend these past few months. We laugh now when we think how strict we were with allowing Jasper to watch a little bit of TV only once he had turned a year old. We are still tight on how much screen time he can have, but the reality is that we have a new addition and she is mesmerised when the TV goes on for her brother. So, sometimes we let Jules watch TV too and this is usually a very productive bit of time for me to cook a meal or have a tidy up.  I am not ashamed to admit this and I am pretty sure the little bit of TV she watches is not stunting the development of her infant brain.

 I will admit that I have always been a pretty good at doing several things at the same time. My job involves coordination of a lot of different projects and activities simultaneously. However, since becoming a mum of two, and currently on maternity leave, I have become the Swiss Army Knife of multitaskers. There is nothing like having two children demanding different things at the same time to exercise this new super power!

10. Preloved
Although I am the oldest of two children, I am no stranger to hand-me-down items as I used to get a lot of great stuff passed down from my older cousins. Often people sympathise for the second child because they don’t get as spoiled as the first child did. However this is my case for embracing preloved items and why we shouldn’t always feel sorry for the second child:
(a) Jules was born in the opposite season to Jasper so we dressed her in what saved newborn clothes we could, but since those first few weeks she has pretty much had her own wardrobe of new clothes to suit the weather and her gender.
(b) We have saved lots of money by keeping most of Jasper’s baby toys. We recently unwrapped a box of six-month+ toys which we had stashed away after Jasper had outgrown them. I tell you, it was like Christmas morning {in July} in our house – both kids were so excited and Jasper has spent more time playing with the forgotten baby toys than he has with his recent birthday toys!

11. Version 2.0
Becoming a mum for the second time has made me an improved version of myself. I find that I am more confident in my parenting skills and decisions. I am a little more streetwise – I often venture out with the baby WITHOUT her change bag as I now know that babies don’t poop their nappies all the time, nor do they need constant feeding once they have settled into a routine. I have become more fierce (as in Beyoncé fierce). I am no longer a ‘yes’ person. I voice my opinions more often. I am more emotional yet feel more grounded. I would go to the ends of the earth to protect my children. I admit that sometimes I am a sh*t mother, but mostly I am a devoted mother and doing the best I can with what I have.

12. Love
When I was pregnant with Jules I was so worried that I wouldn’t, or couldn’t, love this second child as much as I loved Jasper. My son holds a great, big chunk of my heart and I was concerned that I wouldn’t have much more to give away to another child. But from the moment Jules was born I fell so in love with my girl child. The greatest thing about becoming a mama again is that the heart expands so that all your babies receive great and equal love. This is magical and mysterious, but truly amazing to experience. I am also witness to the adoring love between Jasper and Jules. As young siblings they have a bond that is already as strong as chains. It confirms that our decision to expand our family was right for us. We wanted to give Jasper a sibling, a friend for life, a partner in crime. We wanted to become a foursome. Life is exhausting, at times really tough, but with this love it is good.



1 Comment

  1. We’re only a triangle, so can’t fully relate but definitely can foresee all those coming up if we expanded the family! Isn’t it sad how ‘normal’ parenting has to be justified as ‘****’ at times though? I mean, it’s hard, there’s no manual and we all make mistakes- no need to be down on yourself about it! I reckon there are lots of people like yourself being unduly harsh on what you’ve achieved, channel that fierceness some more instead. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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