It’s true: two children are harder than one. Our second child, Campbell, is only 2 months old, but our family dynamic has already changed. We’re constantly juggling bottle-feeding and diaper changes while managing the needs of our energetic 3-year-old, Bennett.
While this life change has been a challenge, every day we are finding ways to make our new life more manageable and enjoyable. Here are some adjustments we’ve made so far:
- We found a balance: If you have more than one child, you know it can be difficult to balance time between children. Because baby Campbell requires a lot of attention, my wife and I make a point to have special one-on-one time with our son. I’ve taken Bennett to puppet shows and my wife has taken him to the zoo, and sometimes we simply have dedicated reading time with him – we just want to show Bennett we love him and want to spend time with him. Even though this means my wife and I spend more time engaged in separate activities, it is deeply gratifying to watch her have fun with our son via photos and text message updates while I stay home with Campbell, and vice versa. In the past few months, my wife and I have become a better team, and I am frequently reminded of her boundless kindness as she shows love to each of our children in different ways.
- We stopped striving for perfection. Accepting “pretty good” instead of “perfect” is the first step toward reclaiming sanity and resisting the pressure to achieve social media-perfect lifestyles. I personally realized this the night my son ran into the living room, hands unwashed after dinner. I stood with a crying baby in my arms, worrying about furniture that I know cannot possibly remain unblemished around two children for very long. So, I let Bennett go and looked after our very hungry newborn. Unfortunately, parents can’t always do everything at once, and sometimes you have to choose to let the little things go.
- We stopped overachieving. There was a time when my wife put great effort into selecting just the right outfit for Bennett to wear to school. While mixing and matching separates is nice, dressing multiple children in the perfect outfit every day can be a drain of your (limited) time and mental resources. And there’s no harm in encouraging your children to pick out an outfit on their own!
- We started choosing battles. Children are creatures of habit. Even the most minor change to my son’s routine unsettles him, so naturally, the arrival of a baby sister has thrown Bennett for a loop. My wife and I know when he crosses the line and needs correction, but we do this judiciously and have stopped worrying so much about minor transgressions while we’re all adjusting to our new family of four.
- We started thinking (way) ahead. Even when you think you’ve set aside enough extra time to get dressed, get out of the house, get loaded in the car and then get to all the things on your list in a timely fashion, there’s always the possibility that a toddler tantrum or spilled breakfast can derail your plans. It helps to think three steps ahead and prepare as much as possible (see tips for making mornings stress-free here). We’ve come to accept that things will take longer these days and require more planning for our family of four and that’s okay.