Thinking about becoming a two child family? Or maybe it’s happening whether you planned for it or not. Either way, your family dynamic is about to change and that can seem a little frightening or maybe even overwhelming. When considering a two family dynamic there are lots of things to consider.
Personally, when I reached this point in my motherhood journey I was afraid. When I started thinking about how things would change when having a second child, I was worried even. Worried that I wouldn’t love another child the way I loved my first. I didn’t know if I had the capacity to love more than one person that much. And if you are feeling these feelings, I am here to let you know I was wrong. Your capacity expands with each child in the most amazing way. I learned that my ability to love grew and deepened when our family grew.
While I want to share a few things you can expect based on my experience with our own growing family. I also want to let you know to breathe. The feelings you are feeling are completely natural. But most importantly, just like when you brought your first baby into this world, you can do this!
What Does the Term “Family Dynamics” Even Mean?
If you’re like me, thinking about all the technical things beyond something can often help calm me down. Taking a more analytical look at things often helps me. It allows me to recognize the not so rational thoughts I may have been having. So if that is the case for you, let’s discuss what family dynamics actual means and how having a second child can change them. Family dynamics in a nutshell are the patterns and ways we interact with each other as a family. It’s the nuances that each person exhibits innately that when combined together make one familial unit. Think of the way your husband naturally loves on you. Or how your first born is always looking to help you. Its what makes each of you, you while also making you guys a family.
Pros and Cons of Having One Child vs Two
As I am sure you can imagine, there is definitely a difference between having one child and two. I’ve read many articles that say the shift from one to two children is enormous and difficult in the beginning. And I’ve even written a few post about ways I’ve found to make that transition easier. As a parent of one, this can be a hard concept to grasp until you’re in the thick of it. Lots feel like they have figured out how to parent and may feel confident in their roles and family. But much like anything else in life, bringing something new ( baby in this situation) will ultimately change everything.
Expect your roles and priorities to shift. Routines have to be recreated. Financial demands to change, and your day to day life to go out of sync all while still trying to maintain parenting your first born. Who will undoubtedly have way more needs when the new little arrives. But I don’t want all that to scare you, because most of these are just the upfront dramatics that occur. The longer, more lasting effectives are what you truly need to focus on. Yes, it is important to know what can happen. It’s also important to put every aspect of adding a new child into perspective.
How a Second Child Changes and Affects the Family Dynamic
Understanding how a second child will change each aspect can help you better anticipate if this is the right choice for you. Looking at each piece individually can calm those nerves (or increase them in some cases, lol). And help give you an idea of what to expect in totality.
Having a second child will undoubtedly impact your finances. Even with most of your “baby gear” from your first child, you may end up purchasing some items to prepare for the new baby’s arrival. And let’s face it, the allure of new baby clothes is never ending. I mean, they are all just so cute!
Other initial expenses to take into account are diapers, formula or breastfeeding materials, additional car seats, daycare / nanny cost etc. The costs of the medical expenses of pregnancy and delivery, in addition to the cost of a child for medical insurance.
It will be important to consider the long term financial obligations you may choose to take on as well. You will need more of everything from food, to clothes, to money for sports and activities. The costs of schooling. Cars, college, and even weddings. Try to think of all that you will want to provide for your children, because there is likely a cost to it.
Your Daily Routine
Our most precious resource is time, because it is the one thing in life you can never get back. A new kiddo will definitely enrich your time, bring joy and love to your family. But they will also require more of that same time from you as a parent. Add time to your morning routine, your prep time to get everyone ready and out the door. Add time to your night time routine such as baths, dinner time, play time, and bedtime routines. In some cases this could be as little as a few extra minutes to prep an additional snack or it could mean adding up to an additional hour to timing out when you need to get ready to leave the house to get both kids ready for daycare and you off to work.
Ultimately, the key to winning the time battle is to create a schedule for the whole family. In the beginning go with the flow and take note of natural rhythms and patterns in your family’s routines. Things that come easy, where little to no fuse happens. As you get your bearings, design a schedule that you can use and adjust as needed. Leave plenty of room for grace in your schedule. Nothing is set in stone, you are still learning and therefore things may work one day but not the next. Also be mindful that this schedule will need to adapt as your children grow and as life changes for your family.
Bringing a new baby into your family can be a fantastic experience. Making a baby can be even more fun. What oftentimes seems to get neglected or rather, not acknowledged, when we consider adding a second child is the stress and strain a new child can create. Not just for you as an individual but for you and your partner as a couple. The stress can come from many different sources: the stress of getting pregnant, increased costs, the change in the family dynamics, your first born may start acting out, your attention being divided more. Even the transition time to finding your new normal can add stress.
While these stresses can be eased if you and your partner are on the same page about the decision to have a second child and the changes that decision will bring, it may still add some stress when it comes to your marriage.
In the midst of the newborn stage, our partner can be overlooked. We are so deep in the exhaustion that a newborn’s sleep schedule can bring that the very thought of staying away is tiresome. So it is vital to take time out for your marriage. Set date nights for yourself, start weekly check-ins to ensure you are meeting each others needs, and make it a point to have and enjoy sex once both of you feel ready.
Sometimes people can get so caught up in the “logistics” of having more than one child that they forget to focus on the joy that children bring. Let’s not overlook that very important factor. Remember how much joy having one child brings you. Now double that. You get to watch someone else’s first all over again. And while it may not seem like it would be exciting it actually is. This will be an entirely new experience for your second child and they will bring their own personality into the mix. So the way your oldest learned to walk may be completely different from your youngest and so forth.
And while children can bring us parents so much happiness, it’s important that you remember to find happiness in your own way. Because having one crying child can be stressful so I am sure you can imagine what two is like. Which is why it is important to have something you can do once you get a moment to step away that brings you joy. For me, I love to journal. Or I guess you can call it blogging at this point.
Why Some People Prefer ‘Two and Through’ and My Take On It
What I have learned in having five children, yes you read that correctly, five, is that only you know when your family is complete. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone (even complete strangers) ask me if I was done, way before I had my fifth child. I’d laugh it off and say of course I was but something in me never really felt done. Every mother I’ve ever spoken with about this topic has said that she has known with a definite certainty when her family was complete and I think that’s the key here. You know when your family is done, no one else. Having two children is amazing. They can entertain each other, help with the younger one and even make the best dates. So I understand why for some, two is enough.
What reasons play into that decision may be different for each family. Some will consider time, money, or emotional capacity of both parents. Others will consider the health of the mother in carrying and giving birth to another child. While still others will take into account space in their homes and cars. Whichever factor is most important for you, know that your decision is just that, yours!
Do You Have These Questions Too?
More then anything, figuring out if how a second child will effect your currently life, or family dynamics means getting answers to a few very important questions.
What is the best age gap between the first and second child?
The timing for having a second child can have a huge impact on how “easy” or “hard” it is. But please know, just like most things in parenting, there is no perfect anything. Time gap included. While having your children closer together can be a lot to manage at times, it also means that your children will be playmates and close friends as they grow up.
Spacing the kids apart more may allow for your oldest to be more independent, and maybe even helpful. Yet, it is also more likely that you will have gotten rid of all of your baby gear which can be a larger cost upfront. Let’s not forget that the older sibling may not “get along” well with the younger one. You know, they could cramp their style a little bit. And depending on the age of your oldest the transition back to caring for a baby could be a struggle.
How much does having a second child cost?
Costs for every family will differ. There is certainly an increased cost, but hopefully you will have plenty of baby clothes and gear to “hand down” to the second child to help curb the costs. Other things to consider include daycare costs for two children will be significantly higher than one. Especially if neither are potty trained. Speaking of not being potty trained, buying diapers for two babies can get expensive. New car seats, or in some cases a new car may even come into play. And as I mentioned before the longer term cost of school, medical insurance, weddings, and even life insurance will increase.
How do family dynamics affect child development?
We’ve all heard the stereotypes and even seen the TikToks with people acting out birth order responses by children to different things. I think that most of my kiddos are typical and fit the stereotypes to some degree, but they are unique and quirky people. My hubby and I both knew that we both wanted our children to know the joy and love of having siblings because we grew up with them. And while I too may be your typically middle child based on the birth order, I do think some of those thoughts can be misleading.
For example, the idea that the oldest is the most responsible is partly due to the fact that in a lot of households they have to be. Usually expectations of responsibility, independence, and helpfulness are intentionally and unintentionally presented to the now oldest. And while this is good to some degree, making a point not to over do it and still allow them to be a child themselves can help deter some of the “stereotypes” of the first born.
To combat feelings of jealousy (some will reside no matter how intentional you are), we told our oldest that we were going to have a new baby and this baby would be his to love. He felt more ownership than intrusion with the coming baby and was fiercely loving and accepting when his sister was born.
Roles transform for parents as well. Balancing the needs of two children required more planning and preparation on my part. It took time to figure out all of the pieces and at times I felt overwhelmed with the mental load of all of the people in my now larger family. This new balancing act also required more participation from my husband. We had to redelegate and redistribute responsibilities and duties to allow for us to take care of both children, work, and live. He took on drop off duty while I handled meals and feeding for everyone. He began paying bills and handling more administrative tasks as I covered potty training. We negotiated tasks as needed, but we had to discuss and accept the fact that things had to change for us to successfully manage our new lives.
Is having two kids significantly more work than having one?
This is a tricky question. This all depends on what your circumstances were with your first child and how things may be different with the second. I had an easy first pregnancy and my oldest was a laid back baby. He slept well outside of teething, and I had a solid support team in addition to my husband to share the duties with. My second pregnancy wasn’t difficult, but it was harder because I still had a toddler to raise while being pregnant. I couldn’t just take a nap or skip cooking dinner like I did the first time around.
The personalities of my kiddos were very different and my second required a lot more time and attention. Well, she demanded it. And she didn’t sleep well immediately so there were more sleepless nights. The hard part about personalities of your children is that, you have no idea who your children will be until you meet them. So you are literally just piecing things together as you go.
Finally, I don’t think the change in one to two kiddos was a great deal more work. I did have to learn new ways to get through my routines. I had to be more open to change and in some cases more creative even.
At first, I hesitated for a few weeks to take both kids out to the stores. I was overwhelmed with the idea of juggling the kids, the cart, the bags, and the items I needed to buy all at once and on my own. But as time went one I thought of ways to make these types of trips easier.
Eventually, I learned to park next to the cart corral at the grocery store. This meant I wouldn’t have to carry the baby carrier and my toddler through the parking lot. I could easily put them both in the cart and push them in. Added bonus, I could put the cart back in the corral without having to travel far from my two young kiddos I had just strapped in the car.
I also learned to have the toddler in the front and the baby down in the basket. Outside of being unsafe I’m sure, the carries don’t fit well in the seat of the cart. And I love a backpack style baby bag that could hold everyone’s items without being big, bulky and in the way while carrying a car seat.
Some things I was able to figure out on my own, and others I asked other moms. Groups on Facebook, some of my favorite Instamoms, and even a few baby forums online got me through some of the most difficult days. It is always nice to know that you are not alone in this.
At the end of the day, having another child will have many ups and downs. But that really isn’t too different from having your first. There will be plenty of first, plenty of things you aren’t “ready” for. But again, just like your first you’ll catch on. Things will slowly fall into place and all will be right again. You’ll look back and not even be able to imagine life without your two babies.
All in all, know that your nuclear family will transform into a “party of four.” That will require each member to help figure out and establish a new normal. Things will never be the same, but if you know that going in, it can be a fun and joyous experience. In your journey to decide whether or not to expand your family, know that whatever your decision may be, you have the opportunity to create and enjoy a beautiful family. I hope I’ve been able to shed some light on what to expect as you consider expanding your family.