We all know that despite the challenges and sleepless nights, becoming a mother is an incredibly rewarding experience that enriches your life in so many ways. So if you’re on the path to baby #2, congratulations mama! Your family is about to get a little bigger.
But if you’re still trying to figure out whether now is the right time to have a second child, it might be helpful to know what you’re up against. Since you’ve been down this path before, what do you really need to know about raising your second child… and will it be different than your first?
First things first: take some time to talk with your partner or loved ones and make sure your ready for round 2. Here’s what we recommend talking about in preparation for this important step.
Decide if you’re ready
Figuring out whether or not you’re ready for another child can be incredibly difficult, but it’s definitely an important thing to think about. After all, how do you know if you’re really ready? There’s no single answer to this, but here are a few questions you can ask yourself, and also your partner, to help you figure out if it’s the right time to start preparing for your second pregnancy.
Can we afford it?
As you likely know from baby #1, kids aren’t cheap. Although your second child may get a lot of hand-me-downs from their older sibling, there’s still a lot of added expenses that come with a new child. Not only can pregnancy be an expensive process, but there’s also added expenses when it comes to healthcare for your newborn.
It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of baby fever, so figuring out how your current situation can financially support another child is a great first step. On average, the US Department of Agriculture estimates it costs about $12,000 – $14,000 every year to raise a child. Talk with your partner, or family members, and figure out if now is a good time financially to have a child, or if it might be better to reevaluate your situation in 6 months.
How will a sibling affect my child?
If your first child will be closer in age to your second, it might be more likely they’ll have more things in common and bond more easily. If your first child and the second child will have a large age gap, it may be a good idea to talk to them about how they feel about becoming an older sibling. This might not seem like the most important question at the moment, but it can help ease the transition to siblinghood later on and mitigate feelings of resentment or jealousy.
Is raising the second child easier or harder than the first?
There’s definitely not a right or wrong answer here. It really is based on personal experience, and from what we’ve gathered, it tends to be about a 50/50 split. Some people find the second time around feels a lot easier than the first because they know what to expect, while others feel as if the second child brings an entirely new set of challenges.
It’s impossible to know which experience you’ll have, so be thinking about both and decide how you’ll handle whichever one life throws your way. If you had baby #1 not too long ago, you might find caring for a toddler along with a newborn baby a bigger challenge than you’re ready for. If baby #1 is a little bit older, think about how you’ll manage preschool or school schedules with the demands of a newborn baby. There may never be a perfect time to have a baby, so it’s all about finding a balance that works for you and your family. Reach out to loved ones for advice on what their timing looked like and any hardships or issues they dealt with.
Although a how-to guide on how to raise your second child would be helpful, it wouldn’t really be 100% accurate–because the best way to raise your child is your own way. So instead of a how-to guide on raising children, we’ll give you the next best thing:
How to Prepare to Raise Your Second Child
- Understand Second Child Syndrome and how to combat it. Many of us have heard of “middle child syndrome,” which is when the middle child feels ignored or neglected compared to the other children. Second Child Syndrome is a term being used to describe how younger siblings feel when there are only 2 children instead of 3 in the family. For example, the younger sibling may not be able to participate in certain activities that the older sibling can and cause the younger sibling to feel left out or ignored. As you are raising your second child, knowing they may be having these feelings can also help you understand times they may act out or seem to over-react. Focus on creating an inclusive environment for both children despite their ages and encourage the younger sibling to try new or interesting things they can do.
- Start some new habits. If you’re already a very organized person, you might be able to skim over this step… but even the most organized parent can be thrown off her game by two little children dependent on you for practically everything! Start getting in the habit of being packed and prepared for the next day. Having a diaper bag or go-bag ready with the necessary essentials for your children will save you the time, and much-needed energy, to run out the door to a late appointment or event. Throw in a few snacks for yourself in case you find yourself rushing around forgetting to eat breakfast every now and then.
- Refresh your knowledge. Although it might feel like you just read all those baby books and took those prenatal classes, when it comes time to raising your second child, it’s time for a refresher course. You might think you remember everything, but there’s a lot of information out there that can easily slip our minds (we are human after all). Check out the Baby2Body Blog for a knowledge recap on what you can expect during and after pregnancy and how to best prepare for baby #2. Because although things went a certain way with your first child, you might find your second child to be completely different.
- Remember your children are different people. What may have worked for your first child likely won’t work for your second. Be prepared to face an entirely new set of challenges that will require a new set of solutions. Celebrate your children’s differences and use it as a chance to explain the beauty in diversity and the importance of accepting each other for who they are.
Having an older sibling can be a great blessing for your second child. They can be their first friend and help teach them the ropes of life–but it all starts with you. Raising your second child may be easier or harder than the first, but it will be just as rewarding (if not more) because you will be expanding your family once again in giving your children a lifelong friend.
This is exactly why making sure you are ready for your second child is so important: having a stable environment to welcome them into the world will foster a sense of belonging and inclusion. Remember that Second Child Syndrome is real, and you should try your best to help them understand they are just as loved as your first child.
As much as we can try to prepare you for raising your second child, life will always be throwing more curveballs our way when we least expect it. There’s no way to prepare you for everything life may offer, but we hope these tips will help guide you through the ups and downs as best as possible. But if not, you know you can always reach out to us here on the Baby2Body team and we’ll be more than happy to help support you in any way we can.