Mom Interviews Parenting

Transitioning to Two Kids

May 6, 2020
transitioning to two kids

Hey mama! I’m excited to share this post with you about the transition from one to two kids. I’m sharing my own story, but I also have lots of helpful advice, tips and encouragement from moms who have gone before us! I hope this is helpful as you navigate the new waters of having two kiddos.

Tyler and I always knew we wanted two kids – and even though I didn’t feel completely confident that I was ready to go through another difficult pregnancy, we started trying for baby #2 when our oldest, Finn, was 14 months. When we were trying to get pregnant with Finn it took us one month. So when it was time to try for our second, I thought I’d get pregnant right away again. 

It took one full year. 

It was an incredibly challenging year in many ways, but looking back I can see how God was shaping us during that time to become who we needed to be for our growing family. It also allowed Finn more time to grow and mature so he could be the big brother he needed to be as well!

Transitioning from one to two kids
We found out we were pregnant with baby #2 right after Finn’s second birthday. We broke the news to my family during a family photo shoot: Finn carried this sign out to the family: “I’m going to be a big brother!”

Take opportunities to grow – NOW

When you have another child, it WILL stretch you in ways you never thought possible, so use this time while you only have one kiddo to develop in areas you need to grow in. For the first few months of your second child’s life, you’ll be in “survival mode.” What you do now can help you thrive in the chaos later.

If you have a relationship with God, spend extra time with Him.

Get substantial quality time with your spouse. Read a marriage book together. Go on a baby moon.

Make special memories with your oldest. This is the last time he or she will be the solo child in your family!

Get into a regular exercise routine – trust me, you’ll need the extra energy.

Organize your house; check items off your to-do list.

But don’t get too comfortable with how smooth things are running – it’s about to all be disrupted. But that’s alright! You’ll find your new normal and it’ll be even better than before.

Don’t try and maintain the same pace you were at, slow down, allow yourself time to find your new groove, make time for yourself, you will find your new normal in no time.

Belinda Hearn, mom of 2…with one more on the way, personal coach at Rest, Reconnect & Reignite

Prepare…but don’t trust TOO much in your preparations. Be flexible!

I did everything I could possibly think of to prepare for having two children. I created breastfeeding boxes for my toddler to play with while I fed my infant (they lasted maybe a week). I completed a to-do list that was as long as an iron-man race. I talked to every single mom I could possibly come into contact with about how to handle having two kids. I read books. I listened to podcasts, read articles, watched YouTube videos. I thought I was going to nail this two kid thing.

It was still ridiculously hard. 

My best advice is to prep your oldest for what to expect by reading books on becoming a big brother or sister. We loved “Just Me and My Little Brother” book by Mercer Mayer, “I’m a Big Brother/Sister” by Joanna Cole and books by Caroline Jayne Church too.

Include them in the process where you can (like doctor’s appointments) and don’t forget to find special time with them after Baby arrives. Also have plenty of grace with yourself and don’t rush the recovery or routine!

Jenn from What You Make It

The most difficult part for me was the emotional toll it took on my oldest son. Finn is such a sweet, sensitive boy. And he was a mama’s boy. He’d stayed home with me all of his short life. For better or worse, my world revolved around him. Oh, it breaks my heart to even write about this. 

We had prepared Finn for the arrival of his little brother as best we possibly could. We read books with him, explained what would happen when mama went into labor, arranged activities, set expectations, etc. But there are some experiences in life that you simply have to go through to grow through them.

Justus was born in the morning and Finn came to visit the hospital in the afternoon after his nap. Finn was very sweet with Justus but almost immediately wanted him gone so he could snuggle mama (which was completely fine/normal in my opinion!). For some reason, I thought this would be the worst of it – that his first meeting with Justus was uneventful and he would have no problems from here on out. 

Finn meets Justus for the first time in the hospital. Sweet moments I’ll cherish forever.

Introducing a new baby brother or sister to an older sibling is magical! But don’t be thrown off if you experience some stages of grief in your first few weeks as a new family of four. It’s a HUGE, fast, adjustment and can require some quicker “growing up” moments from your older kiddo. Even when I was in newborn heaven and my toddler was being tended to by daddy… I cried on a few tough days when I had hoped to get that quality time in with my daughter and it just didn’t happen. Old routines will go and new will come in time. Give yourself much grace!

Jenny Hartley from Welcome to the Circus

The difficulty came a few nights after we got home from the hospital, when I tried to put Finn to bed. He was so upset: screaming, kicking, not letting me put on his pajamas, not letting me read him a book. He had NEVER been like that before. I didn’t understand why he was physically pushing me away whenever I tried to pull him closer to figure out what was wrong. My sweet, snuggly boy was all of a sudden angry and aggressive with me. I tried everything. I tried to be calm and sweet. I tried to be firm. I tried pleading with him.

Eventually I just sat on the floor of his bedroom and cried while he cried. Since he wouldn’t let me put him to bed, I had to go get my mom to help me. She took Finn to bed and I sat in our living room and sobbed. I was so happy to have Justus, but I couldn’t hold back the thoughts that swarmed in my head: Had I made a mistake? Was I doing wrong by Finn to have another child? Did he somehow think I didn’t love him as much? 

In the months that followed, Finn struggled. Before Justus was born, Finn would happily play independently – even in another room, away from me – but after Justus came, he would get very anxious if he were ever alone. He was genuinely afraid of us leaving him. He always wanted to know where everyone was in the house. If he was completely wrapped up in his play and I went to the bathroom, he would scream and cry until I came running back into the room – even if I warned him I was leaving! I haven’t taken many solo bathroom trips in the last ten months. Nap times and bed times became very difficult. Finn suddenly became VERY particular about how he wanted things. And if it wasn’t done right, he wanted it done over completely. He tried to exert control in any and every situation. 

Tyler and I wrestled with how to discipline him when it was necessary. We knew he was battling with this transition, so we didn’t want to be harsh with him, but we also knew that it wasn’t helpful for anyone if we let him “run the show.” At first, we tried very hard to create no waves – if he asked for something, we generally let him have it. We were incredibly flexible with him. But then after a few weeks, we decided it was time to have more structure and discipline. 

This is what we decided: we would be gentle but firm and have a strict structure/routine, especially in the problem areas. Nap time and bed time in particular were the most difficult times, especially if I was by myself. For a time, Tyler would come home for lunch right before Finn’s nap time to lend an extra hand during that time. (Such a blessing that he works 5 minutes away from our house!) We explained and over-explained EVERYTHING to him. This helped him to have more security.

Ultimately, it helped me to remember that this is a season. It will pass. For better or for worse.

I listened to a podcast during this time from a mom of 5 (!!) who was discussing motherhood of young children. One of the things she repeated was: This is a season. This is a season.

And it’s very true. For us, it came in waves. The newborn season rose, peaked, crashed and went back out. It’s now over. We had a colic season. A few sick seasons. A long season (for mama) where Finn didn’t want to have anything to do with me, he only wanted papa. That season is gone, and mama is back “in.”

This season you’re in right now? It’s just a season. It will pass. For better or for worse.

I repeat this to myself on a daily basis and it helps me get through those minor frustrations and embrace the moment.

Baby food splattered all over the floor for the 500000 time today? It’s just a season.

Whining tantrum because a commercial is playing during the Blippi episode? It’s just a season.

Middle-of-the-night breastfeeding snuggles? Just a season.

Rocking cuddly, warm babies to sleep? Just a season.

Mama crying because her babies are growing up too fast? May last my entire life…ha.

It WILL be different. But “different” doesn’t mean “less.”

My labor with Justus was fast and furious: much more painful than my labor with Finn, and more exhausting. When I finally held him in my arms, I was so exhausted I barely felt anything but relief. The emotions did come, but they were quieter and calmer than they had been with my first birth. 

I had a lot of fear about how I would love two. Love doesn’t divide it multiplies.

Meredith, mom of two (2.5 years and 4 years old), writer at Motherhood by Meredith

It felt more normal to have this newborn than it did the first time around. Breastfeeding came MUCH easier (although it was still surprisingly painful at first!) and I didn’t stress as much about the little things. I enjoyed the nighttime feedings and quiet moments with Justus much more. I was (and still am) very aware of how quickly the time goes, and I tried my best to soak it all up.

It’s easy to compare and contrast my two boys, but at the end of the day they’re separate human beings and I’m going to have two separate and different relationships with them. It’s been absolutely wonderful and thrilling to grow in my relationship with Justus and to continue growing with Finn.

Before he was born, I was afraid that I couldn’t possibly love Justus as much as Finn – but honestly that hasn’t been an issue AT ALL. Your love may not be the same for your second child as it is for your first child – but “different” doesn’t mean “less” – you have a relationship with your older child that you don’t yet have with your youngest. You will build that and grow that. Don’t overthink your own thoughts. My heart and my love for both of my children just continues to grow exponentially. It’s a beautiful, wonderful miracle from God.

My Advice and Tips: Before your second one arrives you will worry you couldn’t possibly give your second all the attention or love you gave your first. You feel guilty about taking away your firstborn’s time as an only child. But rest assured you have an infinite amount of love for your children and you will make sure they each have the time with you they need. Your family will adjust and be better for it. You are not only gaining a second child but giving your first born a friend for life. Also in the beginning forget everything that worked with the first. More often than not the same techniques you used with your first will not work for your second. Nothing is wrong with how you did it the first time, your second is just different. They’re a whole new human with a different personality. Their milestones are going to come at completely different times. Some faster, some slower, and all uniquely them. You got this and you’ll be great! 

Heather Hoke from Embracing Chaos with Love

You can’t, and won’t, get as much sleep as you did with baby #1

Remember how they told you with your firstborn to “sleep when the baby sleeps?” Well, that’s not really a thing with a second child. When your newborn is sleeping, you’re chasing your toddler or spending time with your long-lost husband or maybe you’ll even eat occasionally. You won’t have time to shower, so just let go of that one now. 😉

But, remember, this is just a season. You’ll sleep eventually. I think.

If I could go back I’d tell myself not to get worried about “routine.” Sometimes no routine IS a routine and everything will fall into place. Enjoy the middle of the night feedings and them being so little because they already grow fast and it goes way faster the second time around!

Karisa Winter, mom of two (2 years and 5 months), writer at Winter Blessings

Go on lots of dates: with your husband, with your child, and with yourself.

Make sure you not only carve out time for yourself and your spouse but also be sure you’re having some special one-on-one time with the older sibling. Mine are almost 15, 10 and 5, with one on the way. I still try to make sure each kiddo gets my undivided attention for a few minutes each day.

ALWAYS say yes to help! It’s okay to need it!

Danielle Bullard, mom of 3 with one on the way, writer at Mama Dani’s Daily Chaos

Lots of people told us to make sure to have one-on-one time with our oldest once that baby came – and I did this, but it wasn’t until things reached a critical boiling point with Finn that I became VERY intentional about it. Now, when Justus is sleeping and it’s just me and Finn, I’ll emphasize the fact that it’s just us. “Wow, we get to play just mama and Finn! This is so fun!” Before I put Justus down for his morning nap, I’ll tell Finn to think about what he wants to do with “just mama” so that it’s exciting and he looks forward to it. I make sure that our time is very focused – no phone, no distractions, just us. I always tell him that I love spending time with him and that I have so much fun with him. Every few weeks, we go on a special date. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this has made for our relationship.

It may seem like it’s impossible to go on dates with your husband after you have two kids. And, in some ways, it can be. However, if you’re intentional and prepared, it can happen. And it’s IMPERATIVE to have at least some quality time with your spouse in order to get through this transition. If you two are on the same page, this will give your kids security and peace. Plus, you really need time away from your kids in order to not go insane. These days, when Tyler and I get some time to ourselves, I’m giddy. It’s always so refreshing and helps me to have a much better perspective on EVERYTHING. If you need some inspiration, here’s 52 stay-at-home date ideas that will help you to connect with your husband and prioritize your marriage. Pick a night of the week to have your “stay in” dates and reserve some extra energy to spend that time with your spouse – it will pay you back in dividends.

And you HAVE to figure out a way to sneak in alone time for a few minutes every day. For more on this, read this post about self-care for moms.

My biggest tip is to have “me time” so you don’t get burned out. Ask for help.

Heather Lake-Bowerbank, holistic mom of 2, blogger at Our Happy Healthy Home

Remember, your oldest child is getting the most incredible gift: a sibling.

I always think about the gift we’re giving to Finn by him having a sibling! It’s so wonderful even if there are hard moments. We always knew that we wanted to have more children, mainly because we didn’t want Finn to be an only child. Both Tyler and I are very close with our siblings and we knew we wanted that for our kids as well. However, the problem with having a sibling is that you have to deal with things you don’t have to deal with when you’re all by yourself! For better or for worse. When you’re by yourself, you don’t have to share. But when you have someone to play with, they may not play the way YOU want them to. This is the reality of having a sibling, and even though it’s hard, it’s a huge blessing.

A sibling teaches you to be gentle.

A sibling teaches you how to share.

A sibling teaches you how to deal with injustice and to draw healthy boundaries.

A sibling teaches you how to work out conflicts.

A sibling teaches you to be a good friend.

A sibling teaches you how to be part of a team.

A sibling teaches you to love.

Use inclusive language like “our baby” and “your baby.” This has made all the difference for each one of my 4 boys! Going from 1 to 2 is big! That first baby is your world. I worried about the time I would lose with the first because of how busy a baby and toddler are. I learned very quick that I’m not just gaining a second child but my child is gaining a best friend for life. I see it every day. When my husband and I are gone I know my kids will still have each other to lean on and that gives me a lot peace.

Amanda Roundy, boy mom of 4, writer at Mom of 4 Gentlemen

Lastly, I wanted to share this from my friend, Nicole, who JUST had her second baby:

Matt, Nicole & Liam before baby Alora’s arrival

New mommy of two! Matt and I purposely waited until Liam was 2 before we started trying for our second. 

So far it’s been great that Liam is 2 years 11 months with a 1 month old baby. He’s super independent and very patient. So thankful! 

Even though it’s only been a month, the advice I’d give myself is to continue to involve my oldest in activities with his younger sister. Make sure he feels included. 

I let him “read” to her and play with her. He wants to be helpful in so many ways and I encourage it! Some things are only his job like pressing the on/off button to our baby rocker when she goes in and out.

I also prepared him during the pregnancy. He came to all of my baby appointments and heard her heart beat. He read stories about big brothers/baby sisters. He saw her clothes, toys, and new baby items everywhere. He knew a baby was coming and he was excited.

Even though I feel a bit sad, sometimes I have to put the baby down for a minute while she cries to tend to what he needs. I try to take care of his needs first since they usually go quick. But if I’m nursing, he’s very patient to wait! 

I wish to give myself more grace when it comes to feeling guilty about the new state of the house (more messy/clutter) and to remember I’m a mom of 2 under 3 and it’s OKAY! 

Nicole Badger, mom of two: Liam (3) and Alora (1 month)
Big brother, Liam, with baby Alora

For more advice from moms about transitioning to two kids, check out this post: MORE Advice & Quotes from Moms About Transitioning from One to Two Kids.

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  • Reply Ivana Wright May 6, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    Ugh I absolutely loved this post. It brought me to tears just thinking of how Mila may feel if and when we give her a sibling. It is a blessing but I know she may not see it in the beginning. Great tips, love the quotes from other moms.

    • Reply Tiffany Chacon May 9, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      Yes, it’s definitely a blessing but also a hardship. It’s interesting to me that so many hardships turn out to be blessings – and vice versa. They both mold and reveal our hearts!

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