2 years ago
QA&: The Transition from 1 to 2 Kids
Ten months into being a mom of two, I finally felt like I could properly reflect on what it was like going from one to two kids. I wish I had written something sooner because those newborn days are such a blur, but they go by so quickly and I honestly didn’t feel like I was in a real groove until pretty recently. I’m not saying that to scare anyone. It wasn’t awful, but Kate is on a great schedule, Margot is almost three and so much easier to communicate with – things are feeling good. They are exhausting but it’s actually starting to be more enjoyable than it is exhausting being alone with them. I started a post on my experience going from one to two but got so many questions that I thought I’d do a Q&A on the transition from 1 to 2 kids.
Q&A: The Transition from 1 to 2 Kids
Most asked: How do you handle bath and bedtime with two?
Given the pandemic, we’re both home every night. Conor is a realtor but most showings, closings etc aren’t at 6PM so it hasn’t really been an issue. He’s come home after dinner a few times, or while I was putting Kate to bed. Not a big deal. This was all a lot more exhausting when Kate was younger, but there was a pandemic so we were both home. Bath and bedtime just aren’t that bad. Like most events with two, it’s a lot of work, but it’s doable.
We do dinner at 5, baths at 5:45, and bottle, books, and bed for Kate a little after 6PM. Margot doesn’t go to bed until 7:!5 or so, and is fine watching a show or reading books in our bed while Kate goes down. We take turns putting Kate down and both do books and tuck Margot in.
Second most-asked: How did you prepare Margot to become a big sister and how did you ease the transition for her?
We didn’t do that much prep Margot for Kate’s arrival. I had two big sister books that were fine but not great so they don’t feel worth linking. Margot loves Daniel Tiger so we watched episodes with his baby sister Margaret. I didn’t really talk up how all the baby toys and clothes used to belong to Margot. We were going to give Kate her glider but after Margot was diagnosed, decided against that.
A big thing we did was not force anything on her. Margot was very emotional when she first saw me after I had Kate, and I just let her feel her feelings, and didn’t push Kate on her. We asked if she wanted to hold her sister but she didn’t and we did not push it. I’d ask occasionally but let it go if she said no, so she did not hold her for a month. Margot cried any time Kate cried for a whlie – it was just a lot for her, so I did my best to reassure her that it was ok, and just support her through it. Considering everything Margot was going through, I still spent a lot of time with her. I wore Kate a lot, Conor had her a lot, and I gave Margot a ton of attention.
What was a harder: going from zero to one or one to two?
Zero to one hands-down. Had our first been an easier baby that first year might have felt very different, but either way, I went from doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to not really having much free time, and not sleeping for most of the year sucked. Kate made it so easy, and had things been normal, being able to see people or even have some help would have been incredible. The first four months felt hard but they went by quickly and once she was on a schedule, it felt so good. When you have a second, you’ve done it before, and the initial shock isn’t there. Yes, it’s a lot, and there’s even less time, but I was used to that so it felt ok.
Any life hacks to make the transition easier on yourself?
We relied on Daily Harvest for lunch which was so, so easy. Shipt and Whole Foods deliveries. Order take-out. I try to clean as I go. Empty the dishwasher in the morning while the girls have breakfast and clean up right away if I can. Anything to minimize everything piling up. Do a load or two of laundry each day and set reminders/alarms (via iPhone, google home etc) to keep laundry going because if you’re like me, something might sit in the washer all day. I hate folding laundry so I do it while watching a show on my bed. Keep a diaper caddy downstairs and fill it with diaper essentials, an extra outfit, burp cloths, booties, pacifiers etc. (all my essentials are linked here).
Keep a baby seat in the bathroom and shower while the older one naps. Remember that TV and iPad time are ok and that it’s not a bad thing for your first baby to see you care for your second baby. Just do whatever you need to those first few months.
What was the best thing? The hardest thing?
One of the sweetest moments was when Margot first held Kate when she was about a month old. Up until that point, any time I asked if she wanted to hold her sister, she’d say “don’t have to” and walk away. Then one day, she wanted to hold her and eventually, she started with the hugs and kisses, making her laugh, and eventually, “you’re my good little Katertot” with a head pat. A big change from “daddy take the baby out the door.” We were really lucky though. She expressed herself verbally and was never physically unkind to her baby sister.
My hardest thing is very likely not your hardest thing, but treatment and a pandemic made it all so hard and so lonely. Three friends have held Kate and we never see anyone. Friends really showed up after Margot was born and that was not the case this time. Ten months later and no one knows her. My “normal” hardest thing was/is s the complete and utter exhaustion and having zero time to do anything.
How different are the girls? What surprised you the most temperament-wise?
Night and day. Margot screamed any time we put her in her car seat and didn’t sleep through the night for most of her first year. Kate is quite literally the opposite – always smiling, she’s fine in the car, and she has been sleeping through the night for over half her life. Her naps were short the first 5 months and she had her moments but was an otherwise easy baby. Margot is a dream toddler and Kate is a dream baby. So curious to see what Kate is like in two years. Both girls are really sweet and love to snuggle.
I’m so afraid I won’t love the second one.
You will love your second baby. The love for Kate was instant but the bond wasn’t the same as what I was used to with Margot because I had almost two years with her. It’s different but still so, so special. And for what it’s worth, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to experience any joy around her arrival since she was born six weeks after Margot was diagnosed, and she was a light. Kate was everything our family needed.
Things you did right? Wrong?
Right: I put less pressure on myself this time and didn’t worry as much.
Wrong: We’re all doing our best, and I really try not to focus on mistakes, because we ALL make them. I wish I had taken more photos of the girls together and really wish I had taken more video of Kate when she was little. I took some but not nearly as much as I did with Margot.
What do you do in the moment when older kid is acting out (ie hitting) and you’re tending to the baby?
Margot did not try to hit Kate until she was nine months old, so I didn’t really experience this. She’s a normal toddler and this is something that happens, so we either move Margot or Kate and just explain that we can’t be near her if she’s going to hit. It’s extremely rare that she behaves that way and when she does, we just relocate and redirect.
Did you feel that you asked Margot to grow up too quickly?
No, not at all. I believe a sibling is a gift, and had we waited another year, the transition could have been even harder.
What do you need two of? I don’t know what to buy!
Not much. We have one diaper pail in the bathroom. The obvious: car seats, a place for each baby to sleep (bed/crib).
How did you know it was time for a second child?
Margot was born two months before I turned 35 so two years and a baby right before my 37th birthday seemed pretty reasonable? I don’t know. It just felt like something we needed to figure out sooner than later.
Did you experience guilt over the first no longer being the center of everything?
I can’t fairly answer this one. The guilt was consuming and I still can’t see past everything she had to go through. It was just too much for a toddler.
How to handle a needy toddler while physically recovering for six weeks?
Let’s talk about recovery because it’s so different for everyone. I was a lot more sore after having Margot because my stitches didn’t dissolve and had to be removed (holy hell that hurt). I also felt sort of nauseous any time I walked the first couple weeks and did not experience that after Kate. My deliveries with both were painless (epidurals are amazing) but the contractions after Kate were insane (did not have those with Marg0t). Overall, recovery was easier the second time around.
Margot was in treatment, so she was very high-needs the first six months of Kate’s life and I did as much as I could for her. I took her to clinic alone three weeks after Kate was born and did fine. It was super-emotional (hormones) but my recovery wasn’t bad. I hated having to choose between them for clinic days, trips to the ER, and our NYE hospital stay, but I always ended up going with Margot who wanted me to be with her.
Do you like their age gap?
I love that they’re close in age but I also have nothing to compare it to. If we had waited another six months to a year I think it would have been even easier. Margot was still so little when Kate was born and she’s such a kid now. But yes, it’s sweet having them almost exactly two years apart.
How do you/would you take the girls places just you and them?
This feels crazy but because of the pandemic, the only place I’ve been alone with them is to the park which is fine. I hold Kate or put her in a carrier and follow Margot around. I think it wouldn’t be that bad taking both out as long as it didn’t interfere with a nap. Kate is so used to napping in her crib that we haven’t really tried on the go, because we haven’t really been going anywhere.
Tips on getting out of the house?
There’s a pandemic so it’s rare that we take the girls anywhere. Will report back on this one.
How to reuse clothes and baby items without the first getting jealous?
I was going to put Margot’s glider in Kate’s room but she went through so much last year and we decided against that. Reusing toys and clothes hasn’t been a big deal.
Do naps ever line up?
For us? No. Almost never. I think they’ve slept for an hour at the same time a couple times. I have friends who have a one year old and toddler that both always nap for three hours at the same time which sounds equivalent to a vacation. Margot was napping consistently for a while but when she was, naps never lined up and she’s very close to giving up her nap.
Did you give Margot a gift from Kate?
I think we gave her a Daniel Tiger trolley? That time was such a blur. I can’t remember but if we did, this would be a great gift!
Who do you go to first when both need you? I heard toddler first since they are more aware?
Depends on the situation. Kate is very rarely screaming and Margot’s needs likely have more feelings.
Do you have trouble splitting time fairly between the girls?
I think it’s important to remember that day-to-day, it doesn’t have to be fair. It’s not possible for everything to be 50/50 – it’s just not.
Do you plan on having the girls share a room? If so, when?
If Margot wasn’t in treatment we probably would have put them together once Kate started sleeping through the night. It’s honestly easier doing separate rooms while one or both nap, so that’s what we’ll do. I also really don’t want any changes for Margot while she’s in treatment, and her sleep is interrupted for about a week every three months. Maybe when treatment ends? We don’t have to have our third bedroom back so just depends on how the girls do and how long we stay in this house.