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7 reasons going from 1 kid to 2 is the hardest transition

Nov. 15, 2019
7 reasons going from 1 kid to 2 is the hardest transition

If I had to sum up, in a single word, what it’s like going from one kid to two, it would be “relentless.” It’s great. Delightful. Full of joy, etc. But full-stop relentless. As a mom of three, I’m often asked: “Was it crazy adding a third child?” And my answer, always, is “no.” Well, of course, having three little kids is crazy, and life gets a little nuts, no matter how many people call you mom or dad. But! I will say this. Transitioning from being a parent with one kid to a parent of two kids was insane. Crazier than going from zero to one and far more wild than going from two to three. (Full disclosure, going from two to three kids was, hands-down, the easiest.) 

Here’s a little truth: No matter how many kids you wind up having, going from one kid to two is the hardest transition. Here’s why:

1. The nap break is over

When you have one little kid, there’s a little daytime break you get on the weekend or if you stay home called “naptime.” It’s glorious. It’s then that you can either plunk down on the couch to go down an Instagram rabbit hole. (How else will you know what Matt LeBlanc’s ex-wife’s sister’s kids are up to?) Or you can get pretty much anything and everything you’ve ever had to do in your life done. (Who knew you could make phone calls, bake a pie, answer emails and re-grout your tub in an hour and a half?!) And if you have an older child who doesn’t nap anymore — well, there’s a good chance they’re past the age of needing to be watched every second of the day in order to save them from themselves. 

When you become a two-kid family, though? That sweet, sweet respite is ov-ah. It’s full-on, all the time. Can you manage to get both down at once? Perhaps. But the ever-changing variables of two kids make it so that doesn’t happen very often or for very long. Also, no matter how you spent your child’s naptime when you only had one, you can now add this to your repertoire: desperately trying to keep oldest from waking youngest. 

2. You have to learn to divide your attention

At some point, all parents expecting baby No. 2 come to terms with the fact that their firstborn isn’t going to get as much attention as they once did when their second bursts onto the scene. But here’s the hard part after baby arrives: You have to learn how to split your attention — but not evenly. What I mean by that is, you have to figure out creative ways to rock a tired baby and build a Lego castle. Go to the park and have a tea party. Let your older child have a relaxing, creative afternoon of doing art at the dining table while stopping your toddler from Pollock-ing your entire kitchen with permanent marker. (Spoiler alert: This is still hard with three, but old hat at this point. Bring on the crazy!)

3. Dealing with unexpected regressions (Also see: tantrums)

When you have one kid, you’re impressed with all their milestones, which, let’s be honest, they probably hit early because they’ve had the undivided attention of basically everyone in their orbit throughout their entire short life. But, in an ironic plot twist, that same adorable human who would once happily walk a mile to the park and back will lose their ever-loving mind when their younger sibling gets to ride in a stroller and they don’t. Or maybe they want to go back to diapers. Or start nursing or using a bottle again. The first time you’re presented with these types of situations, let me tell you — it’s very unexpected.

4. You reach next-level tired

Getting used to sleep deprivation when you’re used to caring for no one other than yourself is hard. No doubt about it. And while you’re not shocked by the lack of sleep that’s part of the baby package when you have your second child, make no mistake about it: You’re even more tired this time around. The reason? Your older child gives zero you-know-whats that you were up all night with a baby and need some rest in the morning: They want their breakfast smoothie now. (Take note: With your third, this is just who you are now. A walking, talking ball of exhaustion who takes the odd shower.)

5. The parenting guilt multiplies

Even with one kid, parent guilt manages to make its way into the minds and hearts of many a mom and dad. You have to work late; you let your kid zone out to some “Doc McStuffins” while you’re trying to get stuff done; you’re too tired to play another round of tag, hide and seek or anything that involves moving — guilt happens. With your second, though, you have to learn how to deal with seeing your firstborn disappointed when you have to nurse the baby again. Or you get a little misty-eyed when you plop the baby in their crib for a bit so you can get some one-on-one time with your big kid. Working your way through these heart-twisting emotions is a real drag, but the weird silver lining is, the more kids you have, the easier it is to manage.

Will there be times when you feel bad because it seems like one kid has been getting the short end of the stick as of late? Of course. But, as a veteran parent of multiple kids, you know that family dynamics are ever-evolving and the benefits of siblings are probably (hopefully?) outweighing all that undivided attention your child is no longer getting. (Also, real talk, second kids aren’t used to having all of their parents’ attention, so they usually handle things better than the first.) 

6. Your second baby is a totally different human

When you’re pregnant with your second child, there’s a good chance at some point you think: “I’ve got this. I’ve already done this before!” But here’s what happens: The kid comes and you’re thrown for an epic loop because you have to toss almost everything you knew about babies out the window because this kiddo is the total opposite of your last. This is jarring, friends. With your third, fourth or fifth, you know that every kid is different and that it’s best to have no expectations and just take everything as it comes.

7. You and your partner will take it out on one another

While there’s no one you’d rather tell than your partner when your child does something adorable, there’s also probably no one that will annoy you more during the often-rough transition that is one to two kids. Everybody’s tired, stretched thin and woefully lacking in the me-time department. So, yeah, people are going to get on each other’s nerves. When you add a third kid to the mix, everybody knows what they’re getting themselves into, and they can take solace in the fact, even when they’re in it, that it’s all temporary.

Of course, while going from one kid to two is tough sledding for a while, it isn’t all bad. (Heck, I even had another!) Just as there are twice as many noses to wipe and double the laundry to fold, there’s twice as many adorable kiddos to love on. That’s definitely good for something.

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