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My life has changed so much with my second child, I am in shock, am I alone?

(47 Posts)
Winnie Thu 19-Apr-01 09:41:26

Hi everyone, I am wondering whether I am the only person in the world who feels that having a second child has turned my life upside down in a way having my first never did. Call me naive but I just didn't expect it... the exhaustion, the lack of time to oneself (no time to oneself)...the laundry!

My eldest child is eleven I had her as I turned twenty, I raised her alone, I lived away from my family, I worked and became an undergraduate and then a postgrad student, then I worked fulltime. I got on with life and despite the lack of money, time etc, that goes with having a child, I took everything in my stride. I was reasonably relaxed. My second child is six months old, I love him beyond words, I am in a stable longterm relationship which I would not change for the world and I live near my family (although their involvement is minimal), but everything is so much harder. I can hear it now 'what did you expect? Of course it's twice the work etc.,' but I really wasn't prepared. I thought I was, but I had no idea! Returning to the job market feels like a mountain to climb, there is so very much to consider. In fact I feel more trapped at home now (despite my qualifications) simply because of the complex childcare situation both financial and strategic. Am I the only parent who expected change with the second child, thought I knew what I was in for and then got the shock of ones life?

Tigermoth Thu 19-Apr-01 12:29:24

Winnie, yes I've found it hard adjusting to having a second child, too. Can really sympathise with the complex childcare situation you are facing.

I have a nearly 7 year old and a 20 month toddler. When I returned to full-time work, it took loads of planning to find a system that allowed us to get both sons seamlessly to school/ childminder/ after school club etc. If I'd been on my own all this to-ing and fro-ing would have been extremely daunting. And then there's double the dentists appointments/ double the potential to have to cope with a suddenly ill child as you're about to dash off to work in the morning etc etc etc. We'd just moved to a new area and to cope with this I deliberately created a geographically close network of support: our new family doctors, dentists, school, childminders etc are within a 5-minute drive of each other. This really helps a lot: When I pick up my toddler from the childminder, our doctor's surgery is just round the corner, so if needed,( with a bit of sweet-talking the doctor's receptionist) I can immediately pop him in for a check-over, just before closing time.

And, this may apply to you even more than me, my eldest son is now getting so independent that it felt like I was beginning to get my own life back. To then go right back to square one with a new baby seems very hard. There's so much I can now do with my eldest now he's no longer the attention-seeking, exhuberent 4-year old that he was. I can really relax with him at home and when we go out I don't have to watch his every step. He's good company, funny and helpful. Then, just as it was becoming commonplace to take him to cinemas and restaurants, have saturday morning lie-ins, to arrange the house as I want it, to do gardening and decorating again with ease, son number two comes along, and it's back to pushchairs, nappies, fridge-locks and outings to the toddlers section of the playground in freezing February!! While I'm seeing some of my friends who have only one older child, enjoying encreasing amounts of freedom. Winnie, it's difficult, however much you want that second child.

At least you know that with your youngest, everything really is a phase, they will eat with a knife and fork, get potty-trained - eventually. You've already seen it happen. And you don't have to learn all that practical parenting stuff from scratch. And they are not old enough to have too much ' attitude' or want expensive toys and clothes.

With an 11-year-old daughter and a partner, you've got help at hand this time round, too. I'd try and involve them as much as possible in the day-to-day stuff, like doing the evening washing up, or doing some of the running around and collecting from childminders, school etc , especially if you are going back to work. If they can take full responsibility for set tasks, then it's one less worry for you. You've probably already done this anyway.

I too felt I had a mountain to climb before I returned to work the second time round. I guess I knew exactly what I was in for, having been there once already! But you've already bought up one child single-handed,studied and worked, and that must have really challenged your powers of organisation at times. I obviously can't say whether its right for you to go back to work or not, but it seems to me that you can cope very well with lots going on in your life. Good luck!

Rozzy Thu 19-Apr-01 18:32:47

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Bee Fri 20-Apr-01 11:08:51

I agree that the second child is a big shock.I had my second last December. Everything was and is still fine except that I never get to sit down and take five, but hang on perhaps I do as I'm doing this! Well Tweenies does have it's uses.The washing is mega and never finished, there are bits everywhere and my poor husband thinks he's done well if he manages to cook a meal.He needs alot of recovery time in the pub after a bath session.Seriously though I also feel trapped at home and the "popping" here and there that I used to do with one I can no longer do.We walk alot and thankfully live in a good area for kids. My tip is to stay in touch with others who also have two, as those of my friends who only have one are too busy filling their "child free" time to have a good whinge about the distinct lack of it.

Tigermoth Fri 20-Apr-01 12:26:45

Bee, yes, popping round to see people is much more of a palava with two children. My friends who have one older child have got used to me saying 'no' to long invitations to visit, and are very understanding.

I can stay in a non child-friendly house for a short while with the toddler in a strangle-hold on my lap, but that's about it. I just get too stressed otherwise. Many of my friends now have normal houses where telephones, crockery etc are within easy reach again. It's sad because two years ago, my then 5-year-old-son could play well and independantly with his friends, while the mother and I could get down to the serious business of coffee, wine and conversation.

Having said that, we recently stayed for a weekend with a friend who has a lovely house full of Clarice Cliff pottery and suchlike. She has a tiny baby and I'm sure my rampaging toddler gave her pause for thought. Amazingly nothing got broken all weekend. But most of the time he was lap-bound, with lots of trips to the park.

To combat this social isolation, I try to arrange more day-time outings with friends, with toddler mostly in pushchair, and arm-twist my husband into baby sitting in the evening so I can attempt to catch up with my social life. And I know by the time my toddler is 4 or so, he'll be far more house-trained. It's not that long really.

What you do on the 'popping round' front with 3,4 or 5 children on tow, I can only guess at. Here am I moaning about having 2...

Rozzy Fri 20-Apr-01 14:15:22

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Rozzy Fri 20-Apr-01 14:47:30

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Winnie Fri 20-Apr-01 14:51:09

Hi everybody. Thanks for your points on the shock of having two (or more!)children. I do now feel less like the-worst-mother-in-the-world and more like a normal human being but where do I get to meet parents with babies of around six months before the inevitable toddlers groups begin? All of my friends children are 11+ (my daughters age)and all of my friends work fulltime. Furthermore, I was actively discouraged from attending antenatal classes by my midwife on the grounds that I'd had a child (eleven years ago) and the local groups didn't encourage it!!! So I've no contacts there.
However, thanks to all the advice I am feeling a lot less daunted about the possibility of returning to the employment market.
Thank goodness I've perfected the art of breastfeeding whilst online, the internet has certainly saved my sanity in the past six months!

Janh Fri 20-Apr-01 19:21:41

winnie - going from 1 to 2 is by far the hardest step - i made a seriously bad mess of it (but we all recovered. i didn't feel trapped and had no desire at all to go out to work, though.)

2 to 3, 3 to 4 - that's as far as my own experience goes - are far less of a shock. and as rozzy says, the older ones do a lot of it for you. my elders were 11, 8 and rising 5 when no 4 was born and they were brilliant. of course you may have decided to stop at 2 but just in case....

and however many we have had, losing one for an afternoon/night/weekend - doesn't matter which one usually - makes an unbelievable difference! i do recommend it.

Beata Fri 20-Apr-01 19:47:22

did anyone find they lost their first baby friends when no.2 came along? i was surprised at people who were supportive friends half way through my second pregnancy then didn't even visit when the baby arrived.Any ideas why that phenomenon might occur?

No 2 is incredibly hard. There's no getting round it, you can't expect to do things that were possible with one. But luckily my two do get on really well, and that is the main compensation at present, seeing them toddle across the park together, holding hands.

Candy Fri 20-Apr-01 21:11:22

No you're not alone! I didn't kwhat had hit me when I had my second child. I don't think I had a decent night's sleep in over a year and I was working full-time too! Co-ordinating the needs of a baby and a toddler simultaneously was difficult and going out felt like a military campaign! Also - it was harder to get baby sitters for two of them as I felt it was too much to ask of people.
However - it DOES get better. Soon they'll be able to play with each other which will give you more time to get on with housework or (even better!) have a coffee and glance at the newspaper. And seeing your children getting on happily together, watching the "big one" teach the little one, is just the best feeling!
Two heads are better than one when it comes to children, even if at first mum feels like her own head is going to explode!

Chairmum Fri 20-Apr-01 22:58:24

Hi, Winnie. With regard to meeting mums of other 6mth olds - have you tried nct? Many branches run Bumps & Babies groups for pg women and mums with babies up to about a year. There's no need to have attended classes or even belong to nct. Phone no is 0870 444 8707 or www.nct-online.org which should tell you your nearest branch. NCT has been a lifeline to me since I joined when baby No 4 came along after a gap of 9 yrs and my oldest child was 21!!

Sid Wed 02-May-01 12:09:41

I agree that moving from 1 to 2 was a shock, really because a child of two and a baby are two completely different beings. I now (2 years later) feel as if I am regaining a small amount of control over my life again, but am thinking about a 3rd. Logically, there is no reason why one should want a third, if one has two healthy children - it just means more pressure on money, time, space, emotions etc - but two seems so neat (especially one boy, one girl) - I think I want the chaos of a big(ger) family. Has anyone gone for three and regretted it (not the child, of course, but everything that goes with it)? Would you rather have stuck with two and had order in your life after all? Did you have to get extra help in? How did you cope? I'd love to know.

Janh Thu 03-May-01 10:21:21

sid, i actually found that going from 2 to 3 was less fraught than going from 1 to 2! it's having more than one that's a shock...and you've got used to that. mine were 3 years apart though so i only ever had one baby at a time. we didn't get extra help but we did have a grandma who would willingly have any of them for a few hours, for shopping, or overnight at the weekend, for things like decorating.

and you can always do swapsies with friends...if you have a friend with children the same ages, and they get on with yours,if you have one of theirs and they have one of yours you have the same number of children in the house but usually they get along more peaceably. or you can have all theirs one afternoon and they can have all yours another.

obviously the first few weeks are frenetic and exhausting and i found it difficult getting everybody out in an organised fashion but then i'm like that anyway - if you are good at it you will still be good at it - i am constantly amazed at the number of mothers who appear in the world in good order with 2 or 3 small children at 9am!

also the older ones can help more. and keep each other busy while you're busy with the baby. and it's lovely watching all the relationships develop. and your anxieties are kind of diluted, if you're at all the anxious kind, they only get a third each instead of half, if you see what i mean, and that's good too.

another (sort of) benefit is that when one of them isn't there - any one of them - coping with the remainder is such a doddle you can't believe how complicated you used to find it! (i have 4 now and it still applies.)

nobody ever said we should all have 2 - logic has nothing to do with it - you obviously do want another one (they are very more-ish! if i had started sooner i might have had 5 - and i know happy families with 6 and 7) so if you can afford it and have the space then go for it! good luck!

Hedgehog Fri 04-May-01 09:42:00

I also got the shock of my life with my second child, I thought things would be easy as, after all, I had seen it all before. What actually happened is that I became a walking zombie, I was so exhausted. My lifestyle was also turned upside down as organising 2 was five times as difficult as just organising one.

Now with 4 children and a full time job, I have got organisation down to a fine art but I can still remember how helpless I felt after the second one came along!

Try to enjoy the time you still have at home with your baby and if it is manageable financially, wait until you feel you have the energy to return to work. I had to return to work after the 16 week
maternity leave with each child and I deeply regret not having been able to spend longer with each child before having to return to work. (I had no choice.)

Good Luck with whatever you decide, things can only get better as your child gets older.

Kmg Fri 04-May-01 17:21:19

My youngest is two next week, so I'm coming to terms with being a mother of two, but there are still shocks. We've just taken the youngest out of nappies, and he's doing well, but the fact that he is not an only child has had an impact. Firstly the eldest was very jealous of the new potty training sticker chart, and insisted on having a sticker when he did a wee or poo! But also life is so much busier, and I'm so much more easily distracted, that it's difficult to catch the little whispered "wee coming" and act accordingly ...

Beata - I did experience being 'dropped' my some of my friends of single children. We had got to the stage of doing grand outings together, and they simply couldn't cope with all the added hassle that come with dragging a baby along too. It didn't happen with all my eldest son's friends, but it did with some. I find now the people I spend most time with are people with more than one child, not necessarily the same ages as both of mine, but having more than one just gives you such a different perspective on life.

Twinsmum Fri 04-May-01 18:15:45

I've found these messages very reassuring. My twins were also my first children so I went from 0 to 2 in one step. I went to NHS and NCT antenatal classes and got on really well with all the mums to be. I felt really lonely after they were born however and really felt like a bit of an outsider. Everyone else seemed able to do so much more than me and in many ways the other mums carried on with the lives they'd had before birth (they just took their babies along with them wherever they went.) I lost touch with most of them which made me feel a bit of a failure, but now that friends of mine are starting to have baby 2 (and reading your messages) has made me realise that having 2 babies really is a lot harder than 1.

Sid Tue 08-May-01 15:44:56

Janh, thank you for your words of encouragement! A lot of people have said to me that going from 2 to 3 is easier than from 1 to 2 (not that that in itself is a good reason to have 3!). It seems as if many parents on this site seem to have 4 (or perhaps I just notice it more), as does a friend of mine who says that just having 3 leads to the middle child being 'difficult', because they're neither the oldest nor the youngest. Does this reflect anyone's experience? (Maybe this is a completely new topic?)

Emmy Wed 09-May-01 09:35:56

Sid, I have 3 children of nearly 6, nearly 3 and nearly 1 and am considering a fourth, partly beacause the middle one is quite difficult as it is and I dont think it is doing her any good being in the middle. And I was a middle child, and it is hard! I found my first child was the biggest lifestyle shock, then after that each one has got easier, I think I'm just better with them now,and have lowered my expectations massively! And third children are famously easy, which mine has confirmed. Are fourth children the same, anyone?! I have a policy of "benign neglect" according to Junior magazine, unless there is screaming or blood I take little notice! I really really enjoy having 3 though, and never enjoyed my eldest when he was on his own, I wonder why?!

Sml Wed 09-May-01 12:51:25

Benign neglect - so that's what my parenting style is called! I was a middle child, can't say it affected me particularly. In fact I have always thought it was better than being the eldest (with lingering memories of being the only one) or the youngest (never superceded by a new baby).

Janh Sat 12-May-01 09:42:49

middle children - hm - my 2nd was a middle for 5 years and she has always been a bit stroppy but i think it's her nature...if they're going to be jealous it is usually of the next one down, whether they're 1sts or 4ths! i think gender makes a difference too; she was the second girl followed by the first boy.

it's down to luck as much as anything really; you might have a stroppy one anywhere or nowhere - as long as you try your best to be fair as much as possible (and not to give in to the current baby's demands from siblings because he/she can't stand up for him/herself as well, that can be very hard to avoid!)

sml - i agree about the youngest - they always are "the baby" with all that that implies! mine has had a much easier time than the other 3 in some ways, and more adult attention, but has missed out on the collective playing the other 3 used to enjoy - schools, hospitals, mums and dads etc. all my friends had finished with babies when he came along and i am so much older than his peers' mums it was just him and me a lot of the time so it took him quite a long time to get along with other kids very well. he gets along better with younger children, because they don't run rings round him like his peers do, but he is very kind to them and not bossy so i hope he'll turn out ok!

Beccaroll Mon 21-Jul-03 13:54:45

Im 35 weeks with my second child - my first is a little girl of 3 (will be 4 in october) Im expecting a little boy.

I wish I hadnt read this thread!

Is going from 1 to 2 really that bad>?!?!

Becca
xxx

Demented Mon 21-Jul-03 14:38:16

Beccaroll, I haven't read all of the comments on this thread but I have two boys, aged 4 and 1 and have thoroughly enjoyed the change from one to two, it has brought out so many more positives than negatives. I just wish DH would let me have no 3!

tinyfeet Mon 21-Jul-03 15:23:19

Becca, I certainly hope it's not this bad. I'm expecting number 2 at the end of December. This was an expected, unplanned surprise. Demented, What can we do to prepare ourselves? Is there anything you feel like you wished you had done while you just had one?

Beccaroll Mon 21-Jul-03 15:29:29

erm Im not sure to be honest - I had Megan when I was 18 so probably lots and lots and lots of things I ought to have done first!

Meg is at an age now where she is very independant, brilliant sleeper, good at self entertaining and goes to sleep at her Dads once or twice a week so I think this little baby is going to KNOCK ME FOR SIX!!!

I get down about it sometimes - things like if my house is in a mess now what about with 2 to look after! If my partner and I argue now what about with the strains of a baby too!!!

EEK!

Becca
xxx

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