A second child defies basic math. 1 + 1 = 2 in all cases except for the introduction of a sibling.
As soon as your attention is divided and there are as many kids as there are adults, life gets exponentially more difficult. There are so many things you can’t do (at least not with the same time and attention) for baby #2 that you did the first time around.
While I’m happy to report that we’ve survived the first year with two little ones, there’s still a handful of things that I get a bit weepy about not doing as well for my second:
Sleeping on me. My first son often napped snuggled into me while I read a book on the balcony of our apartment. Sure, there was stuff to do, but there were far fewer things that had to be done right then when we only had one. I love the moments when my younger son falls asleep on me, but those moments are fleeting with a toddler in the mix.
Good naps. Speaking of sleeping, once baby #2 made it out of the sleep-all-the-time newborn phase, he’s been lucky to get one good nap a day, let alone two like his brother used to take. Our youngest is tougher to put down for a nap, but that’s likely because we aren’t doing things the same way—there’s less time to rock him to sleep, and we are on the go much more than we were when his big brother was peacefully napping his way through his first and second years.
Homemade baby food. I did make baby food for my younger son—once. Two whole trays and that was the end of that. Fortunately, he got teeth earlier and progressed to solid foods quickly, but store-bought jars and pouches of baby food were much more of a staple for my second than for my first.
Reading. From the day he came home from the hospital, we read to my older son every night before bed and often at other times during the day. As my husband and I learned to juggle baths and bedtime with two, we were both so wiped out by the end of the day that letting the baby fall asleep with a bottle while we watched (or dozed in front of) TV became the norm. We finally got our act together and now read to our youngest every night just like we do with his brother, but it took a while.
One-on-one time. The divided attention that comes with a second child is unavoidable, and the struggle to devote time individually to each kid is tough. Sure, my husband will occasionally take our 3-year-old out for a bit, giving me some one-on-one time with his little brother, but if the timing is right, I often try to get him to take a nap so that I can do one of the million things on my to-do list while our toddler is out of the house.
Milestone excitement. I didn’t tape the little one to the ground when he started learning to crawl, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind. So many of the milestones that were so exciting the first time around can bring a strange mix of pride and dread with baby #2. (“Yay, he rolled over!! Oh NO, I can’t take my eyes off of him EVER again.”) However, the start of real smiles and “mama” squeals were just as awesome the second time around.
Adding a second tiny human to a household is tough, and there are times that I question if I’m giving my second everything his brother got. The honest answer: I’m not.
During those times of doubt, I focus on the fact that my second-born has an older brother who was so excited the day they met in the hospital that he squealed with delight, an older brother who is genuinely excited to see his little sidekick every morning when he wakes up.
And as a fellow younger sibling, I know that, despite the things I may not be doing as well this time around, my youngest has an automatic best friend, a secret keeper and a life adviser. He has someone who will always have his back and family dance parties are way more fun. Those things are worth a few missed naps.