What changes when you have two kids? I’m currently pregnant with our second kid, due later this year, and I started wondering what I might need to think about, prepare for, and learn. How would our lives change as two parents with one child, adding a newborn to the mix? How would my older kid react? Would our schedules change?

I decided to ask my community for advice, and posted the following question on my Facebook page:

Parents: Talk to me about the transition from one kid to two kids. What changed? What do you wish you knew? What, if anything, should or can I be doing to prepare myself and my business for a second kid? Will take any and all advice, recommendations, ideas. Will also take horror stories, reflections, and anything you have for me. I’d rather go knowing all the ways …

I received a ton of replies, full of advice and notes I would not have considered if I were left to my own devices. I decided to round up the comments and organize them into a post so if you’re thinking about two kids, you can have this prep list as well.

Here’s what my parent friends had to say:

It was harder than they expected in some ways:

It was harder than I thought. I didn’t feel the worry I did with the first child, but underestimated the additional sleep deprivation and the time a two year old still requires, plus a newborn. Basically, it’s survival mode for a year or two and self-care and hobbies take a backseat. This time (yeah, I’m nuts and had a third) I’ve outsourced everything I can and asked for more help. I sleep when I can, and let go everything that isn’t urgent so that I can take care of my kiddos and not feel crazy. — Sarah

The first year is hard, really hard. Trying to find time to do anything. Realizing that the two kids aren’t the same person and figuring out how each kid needs to be parented. But once they start to play together it is the absolute BEST. — L

It was much harder than I expected. Splitting an already delicate work/kid balance into more pieces was difficult. I was used to being done with work and moving on to parenting but then all of a sudden there were two vying for that time. Even less energy for my partner and no energy for me. — Kelly

I had no clue how much harder #2 would be. With one kid and two partners, one partner could be on kid duty while the other took a break. With two kids, nobody gets down time. — Dina

Your second child is completely different from your first:

Your second child is different from your first, in every way. The child rearing piece is no different and likely less stressful if there are no major challenges impacting you or your kiddo. However, the time devoted to children changes in the immediacy and then gets better over time. — Kate

The biggest thing you need to know is that it will be completely different than your life right now. Not in a good or bad way, just different. — Andrea

Sleep deprivation hit me much harder with the second one around and this holy time with a newborn is very much not the same anymore if there is a big sibling around. — P.S.

Take some time to explain to the older kid what’s happening (and pay attention to them)!

We also included our older son on everything baby related. He knows about pumping and feeding. It helps when mom has to jump in the other room for a while to pump and nurse. — Ryan

You will likely feel guilty spending less time with your first child, but that’s just how it is. Don’t be too hard on yourself. — DJ

Have the older child help as much as he’s willing to—little things like grabbing a diaper, helping find things, getting wipes for messes. Not so much for the actual help, but it makes him realize he’s still an important part of the family. And always use lots of positive reinforcement. — Patrick

Some kids may be super proud to become a big brother/big sister. That was partially true for our kids but mainly they both needed frequent reassurance that they themselves were still small and needed a lot of attention. — P.J.

Best advice I got and used: start teaching your older child now to “wait.” Like do the dishes and make them “wait” before you can come play. Because he will be waiting a lot once baby comes. — Emily
It is amazing how much older they seem. My suggestion is to let the older child help you with the baby even if it’s just fetching a diaper. Let them know how important their help is. — Joleen

A thing you’ll want to be sure to do ahead of time is to prepare your older child for the new baby brother or sister. It’s going to be exciting for them but it’s also going to rock their little world in which they are accustomed to being the center. — Amy

Remember that it won’t stay like this forever (for better and worse).

Take each day as it comes. Don’t get overly worried about it because it’s happening and trust that you have the inner resources to navigate this new and challenging season which will soften with time. — Crystal

It was a marathon, an endurance test for sure. Not sure how I worked through all of it. There are years I don’t remember. And yet I endured. It was worth it. — Ann

Changes in routines became more challenging (I mean my older daughter had just been through a giant change, so it makes sense!). Give yourself time and patience. — Laurels

If you find yourself overwhelmed in the beginning, tell yourself that it’ll get easier as soon as the baby is able to sit by himself. If the baby is only 3 weeks old it feels like that’s so far out in the future, I know, but having already had one child, you know how fast time goes by. — P

It won’t last forever—the crazy part I mean. My kids are 5 and 6 and SO easy now. They don’t run off at playgrounds, they get the rules, they play together, no one is in diapers. The insanity fades. — Sarah

Learn from your approach to parenting (and partnering) the first time around:

Be prepared for the possibility to rethink what teamwork and partnership looks like.We worked together on everything with our first. So we were both exhausted. We knew that wasn’t sustainable with two so we adopted a total divide and conquer approach once the second baby came along. — Alison

My husband and I already know our roles and the tasks we need to take on to keep each other sane. One thing that we’ve done differently is we all leave at the same time each morning now – it somehow feels MUCH more difficult to get out the door with two kids than one, so it’s an all-hands project to start the day. — Jessica

I thought that having already experienced birth and the postpartum period, that I would know how to handle the immediate postpartum time. However, experience cannot trump hormones! — Laurels

Take time away from the kids together even though you don’t prioritize it or maybe don’t feel like it. And go to therapy even if there isn’t necessarily an immediate need for it. Get out in front of the conversation. — Sarah

It’s definitely harder to child proof with the second one because so many of the things that our older one uses (like markers) have to just be around! — Jess

Tune in to your household’s/family’s energy:

Energy is contagious. That goes for positive energy, and negative. From the first night you bring the second child home, they feed off each other’s energy (and ours). — Mark

My advice is to shore up your relationship, make sure he knows what’s coming, and make a plan to tackle it all—expanded family, your career ambitions, life’s logistics—as a TEAM. — Anonymous

It will also be important to have times where your partner or someone else watches the baby for a bit so you can get some special 1:1 time with your first. Even if it’s only for an hour or two, that will help fill your toddler’s “cup” and will be something they can count on so they’re not feeling the need to vie for your attention at all hours. — Amy

Expect the dynamic with your partner to change. The first few months you will seriously just be roommates that get on each other’s nerves. If you both expect things to be a little rough for a while, it makes it easier. If you try to keep it the same, it will stress you out. — C

Be completely purposeful about the relationships in your house. — Anonymous

The wisest advice I had during this time was to give ourselves grace, to be up front about our feelings, and that our relationship would have immediate demands until our youngest was in kindergarten. — Milo

Ask for help, and ask often.

Ask for help and use it. You will not regret it. — Kate

We hired a cook to make meals weekly so we don’t have to cook at all on weekdays (just reheat food) and hired cleaners to come monthly. My wife lined up lots of babysitters with various availabilities. — Patrick

The second time around my normal/happy place was amenable to having a new human that relied on us for survival, including knowing to/how to ask for help, trust my gut instead of frantic internet searches, and intentionally practice self-care rituals. — Nikki

What about you? What advice do you have for making the transition from one to two kiddos?

Leave a note in the comments with the best, the worst, and the most surprising things that you wish you’d known!


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