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Parenting Advice for the Second Child

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

This may seem a little strange (why am I always saying that?), but I haven’t given a ton of thought to what raising two kids will be like on a day-to-day basis. Strange because—as most of you know—I’ve been trying to conceive baby no. 2 for a long time. But when you’re going through infertility, you’re just trying to get to the positive pregnancy test. You’re not really preparing yourself for what comes next.

Focusing too much on the unborn baby wasn’t healthy for me—I found it made getting through each fertility procedure a little harder, so I had to compartmentalize it by just focusing on what I was going through at that particular moment. Otherwise it set me up for too much disappointment when it didn’t work out each time.

Even since finally reaching the critical turning point and getting the great news of my pregnancy, I’ve still been a little guarded. I’ve been somewhat cautious during my pregnancy—and I’ll probably remain this way till at least the 20-week ultrasound, if not longer. Part of that I think has to do with what I went through to get here, but also how sick I’ve been—the HG doesn’t give you much leeway to think past the acute morning sickness. But thankfully that’s subsided to a manageable degree now—thank you pregnancy gods!

I’m exactly five months pregnant now, and I am in the zone—obsessing about what life will entail with two kids, how I'm going to deliver, what I'm going to name said child, etc. But I still can’t totally wrap my head around the changes that are coming, the baby itself, and how I’m going to handle life as a new mom again, to two children. I’m excited—I absolutely love babies, especially newborns, it all came very naturally to me the first time—but I’m also a little nervous about the unknown challenges of juggling two kids, my full-time career, dividing my attention appropriately, and being the best mom I can. 

So I look to my friends and family for advice, most of whom have two or three children now, and can help put it all into perspective for me. Here are some of the best/funniest pieces of advice I’ve gotten so far:

1. “Focus most of your energy on your oldest child when the new baby comes—he’s going to need more of your attention.” I think this is a brilliant piece of advice.

2. “You will like one kid more than the other…not love more but 100% like more.” I’m sure this is true for most people, whether or not they’ll admit it. Come to think of it: WHO DO YOU LIKE MORE, MOM?

3. “Going from 0-1 is harder than going from 1-2—parenting is easier with the second, because you already know what to expect.” I would’ve thought the opposite—two kids has to be harder than one! But this totally makes sense now.

4. “Set aside designated time for you and Preston after the baby comes, so he doesn’t feel neglected.” Also great advice. Preston is such a mama’s boy so I know this is going to be a tough one, but I also know he will adjust eventually.

5. “What little control you think you have now becomes non-existent. You have to go with the flow and accept that things will eventually get done. There are less pictures and less fussing over the second because what time, space, resources you had for one now gets spread over two.” This is going to be hard for me—I’m a bit of a control freak. Being a full-time working mom was a hard adjustment for me, and is still a balancing act even after three years—I can only imagine how much harder this juggle becomes with two.

6. “The second kid gets the shaft.” This is a common one and my favorite, because I am a second kid—and have always felt ripped off because my baby book is a third of the size of my brothers.

7. “Everything I did the first time I didn’t do the second time. Nap schedules? Impossible! Feeding cereal for the first time on video? Not at all. They don’t get the shaft, they are just part of a ‘family’ instead of adding to a ‘couple’ and it can’t be your entire focus. It still takes me a half hour to get my oldest to bed, and my youngest I literally drop in her crib. Just because we thought we did it right the first time doesn’t necessarily make it true.” Have more honest words ever been spoken? I love this. Preston’s bedtime routine can be long, so I know one thing I’ll be doing differently with the second one.

The concept of two kids—still—is such a foreign one to me. I have one kid down pat most days, but I know that no two kids are the same so I’m not sure what one can really do to pave the way for two. And no matter how much I talk to others about it, it hasn’t totally sunk in for me that this is really happening.

Did you experience this? It’s like the fantasy of having another baby, and the reality, haven’t totally merged for me yet. Good thing I still have four months to go! What’s some of the most memorable advice you got? Share below.