Parenting truths you need to know now are almost always written for newbies and all boil down to the same thing: expect the unexpected. So you take that to heart and you figure out parenting as you go along until you feel like you finally have a handle on being a mom. Then there’s a plus sign on a pee stick and you’re back to square one. No one writes for the mom expecting a second baby except to say don’t worry, you’ll love them both. Which is true but not exactly helpful when you’re closing in on the third trimester and wondering if you have the balls to breastfeed at peewee soccer.
So here are 10 true things about the first year of parenting a duo – inspired by Karyn Thurston who wrote up 10 true things about the very first year of parenthood. I’ll admit that as you add more kids, it’s not easy to find that groove but you’ll know it when you’ve found it. Until then (and preferably before you’re pushing) memorize this list of things second-time mamas need to know:
For a while you will feel pulled in two directions – struggling to figure out who takes priority in a given moment, newborn or firstborn – and then one day you will wake up and be nursing your baby while getting your big kid breakfast like it’s the most natural thing in the world. You will suddenly realize you are pretty damn good at this parenting thing.
You will be too busy to care what your clothes look like for a long time and forget about caring what your naked body looks like. You may still work out, but with two little ones vying for your attention 24/7 there’s not a lot of mental energy left to devote to hating on your squashy postpartum body or your aging wardrobe.
It’s very obvious that the babies you make are totally unique and pretty much exactly like all babies in that uniqueness – making them pretty much like every other baby. Confused? Doesn’t matter. There’s something reassuring about knowing that your childrens’ oddities are really, truly, and totally normal.
Things actually do get easier but like I said above it happens so slowly you won’t even notice it happening. Sure, there will be plenty of times you’ll be in the grocery story yelling over your shoulder for your first to stay put because your second has just made a mad dash for the automatic doors. But more often than not, you’ll be in the zone and first-time moms will be looking at you wondering how you do it.
Your second will poop just as much as the first but it won’t seem half as bad as the deluge of feces you experienced the first time around. Mostly because once you learn to swap out a poopy diaper on a running toddler in mid stride, changing a newborn is NBD.
When people offer unsolicited or unwanted advice, you will smile and nod and go on your merry way because they have no idea what they’re talking about. Your graciousness has less to do with assuming that people’s hearts are in the right place and everything to do with the fact that you simply no longer give a crap about how other people parent.
Your parental flexibility is going to fly right out the window. Second babies – especially second babies with school-age siblings? Typically learn to catch their naps where they can. Just like you learned to embrace the chaos with your first, your next born will need to learn to embrace the chaos… of your first. There are things to do, places to be, and stuff to see. School pick-up cannot be denied.
You will need local mom friends and lots of them because there will be times (especially with school age children) that bringing along baby will just not be appropriate. Newborns are pretty portable and generally only disruptive in their cuteness. Early crawlers? Probably don’t belong at the PTA meeting. Build your village now. Your village of willing babysitters, that is!
The mom competition is officially over because you simply do not have the time or the mental bandwidth to obsessively track all those milestones that mattered so much the first time around.
You’ll find success in loving your kids. Are your kids happy, healthy, and well loved? Then you are officially doing a great job even if what works for your family might be considered outlandish or too strict or too lenient or too fussy by other people. There will still be so much you don’t know… but it won’t matter.