No matter how many people you speak to or how many books you read, you'll never be fully prepared for that bumpy transition from hip, easygoing mom of one to haggard, edgy mom of two. For some people, the hardest part of having a second child is giving yourself over to parenthood, says Edward Christophersen, PhD, a psychologist at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and professor of pediatrics at Kansas City School of Medicine. When you have just one child, you can still preserve a lot of your pre-baby lifestyle, he says. Going out to dinner or on vacation isn't that hard. Then along comes baby number two and, boom, any sense of self or freedom you've managed to hold on to is gone.
But perhaps the biggest surprise in the beginning is how your time alone disappears. With one, you could still count on some downtime during the day while he was napping, quietly playing, or out with Grandma. Those stolen moments become harder to snag with two. Even if your older one still naps, it's hard to synchronize sleep schedules in the beginning. And with two kids, you have more to do and less time to do it. You may find that you are constantly bouncing between two conversations, adding to your to-do list, making dinner, and unloading the dishwasher, all with a little one hanging on your hip. For those first few months, it may feel close to impossible to complete any chore or carve out personal time because it seems that someone always needs something.
The best advice for dealing with those inevitable frustrations? Take a deep breath and know that this, too, shall pass. And if and when you find five minutes of solitude, let the dirty dishes in the sink soak so that you can relax.