Our Transition from 1 to 2 Kids
I’m officially six months into my role as a mother of two kids under the age of two. Let me say, it has been a whirlwind for our family. I’m still figuring it out as I go, but wanted to share a bit about what it’s been like with the transition from one to two kids…especially with two kiddos so close in age. Ellis and Rory are exactly 17 months apart.
Which Transition Was More Difficult for You?
In preparation for this post, I actually polled my audience on Instagram to ask which transition was more difficult for you – 0-1 child or 1-2 children? Of course, I know some people have more than two kiddos, and a few moms even chimed in saying they went from 0-2 with twins, but in general, it was split just about right down the middle. Isn’t that wild?!
For me, I think each transition came with its own challenges. But if I had to choose, I’d say the transition from one to two kids has been more difficult for me.
Becoming Parents for the First Time
Nothing can truly prepare you for the transition from having no children to having a baby. You can read all of the books in the world, but there’s nothing quite like actually doing it yourself. It’s a complete lifestyle change. You spend your adult life caring for yourself and your own needs and then suddenly, it’s your job to keep a tiny baby alive. It rocks your entire world! Or at least it did for us.
Not to mention, you’re learning everything on the job – from feeding, to sleeping, to all of the baby gear! There’s a steep learning curve!
I remember when Rory was around nine months old, I told Finn that I felt like I finally knew what I was doing as a mom. Physically I felt like myself; I was finding my confidence as a new mom, and Rory was doing so well. Then, about a week later, I found out I was pregnant with Ellis. Ha!
Adding Baby #2 to the Mix
While I was pregnant with Ellis, we felt fairly confident going into the whole newborn phase again. We had just done it and we made it out the other side! We knew about feeding and sleeping and heck, we already had all of the baby gear and only needed to buy a few additional things for Ellis. Oh, how naive we were.
The Transition from 1 to 2 Kids
When we brought Ellis home from the hospital, it was new territory for our family. We went from playing zone defense, to man-to-man, with each of us taking care of a child. Before, one parent could have a break, or get things done around the house, while the other took care of Rory. Now, we were both always “on” and watching one of the children.
Those first few months were difficult as we figured out our new normal. I was recovering from my c-section so physically, it was hard to keep up with a toddler and a newborn. (You can read more about my recovery here.) Rory was having some big feelings about a new baby in the house. And Ellis was adjusting to well, life!
Rory Becoming a Big Sister
I wrote more about what we did to prep for Ellis’ arrival in this post and I’m so happy that we actively talked about it, and read about it, with Rory. Even with all of that, it was still hard, and the new baby rocked Rory’s entire world. With Ellis arriving a bit early, their age gap is really close (only 17 months), so Rory was still a bit of a baby herself when she became a big sister.
I remember coming home from the hospital and Rory looked gigantic to me! We were only gone five days, but it looked like she had aged three months during that time away! I remember changing her diaper and thinking…she is huge! That part still cracks me up.
We did our best to have dedicated one-on-one time with Rory and lots of special outings for our girl. I also highly recommend the Big Little Feelings course where they talk about adding a new sibling to the mix. I did my best never to “blame” the baby. For example, if Rory wanted to play while I was feeding Ellis, I never said that I couldn’t because I was with him. Instead, I’d say, “Sure, let’s play a game in a few minutes. You pick out what you want to do.” Re-working our vocabulary a bit really helped, especially in those early days!
Going Man-to Man
I must give a big disclaimer here to say I know how privileged I am to have a partner who shares the load with me and works from home. Finn is an amazing dad and does so much for these kids every single day. I really don’t know how I would be doing without him around and home 24/7.
Since Ellis arrived, we mostly do man-to-man when watching the kids. In the mornings, I get Ellis and he gets Rory. Then for the bedtime routine, we switch off every night so we each get that cuddle time with our kids – my fave time of the day! I’m excited for the days when we can do the kids’ routine all together (baths together, books together, etc.), but Ellis is still a bit young for that. On the weekends, if we have to run errands, we usually bring one of the kids along so it’s a tad easier on the parent who is staying home. Each taking a child really works for us.
Watching Both Kids at Once
I watch both kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays and it can be tough to juggle both on my own. (Luckily, my mom is often around to share the load and Finn is working in the basement if I really need him.) It is getting more manageable the older they get, and I’m less terrified about being alone with them.
In the mornings, I try to do some sort of activity to get out of the house because it feels like a million hours from 7 am until Rory’s nap time at 12:30 pm. I’ll often wear Ellis in my Baby Bjorn carrier and then push Rory in the stroller if we’re going to get coffee or heading to the park. Ellis is a pretty good on-the-go sleeper, so that helps!
They now nap at the same time in the afternoon, which is such a gamechanger! The only tough part is getting them both down at the same time. I’ll usually bring Ellis into Rory’s room as I put her down for a nap and he’ll do some tummy time on the floor. Then, I’ll bring him to his room for his nap.
Tips from Followers
I’m no expert (I mean, is anyone at this motherhood thing?!), so I asked my audience some of their best tips for the transition from one to two kids, and you guys did not disappoint with your amazing advice.
- Tend to the older child first. Usually their needs can be met faster, and then take care of the baby.
- Schedule, schedule, schedule! (I second this advice)
- Be okay with just surviving for a bit…extra screen time, takeout, etc.
- Accept help from others.
- Lower your expectations…and then lower them again!
- Make special alone time for each child.
- Schedule date nights and hire a sitter so you and your partner have time to connect.
- Give yourself time to adjust.
- Consider an early bedtime and wine (I like this idea…)
- Involve your older child when it comes to baby needs, like getting a diaper, grabbing a bib, etc.
- Babywear as much as possible.
- Have a basket of special toys for the older child to use only when feeding the baby.
I also shared a lot of my tips about balancing parenthood and life in this blog post, if you want to dive a bit deeper.
My Favorite Baby & Toddler Products
Here are a few items that come in handy when taking care of both kids.
- Baby Bjorn Carrier: I often wear Ellis and push Rory in the stroller.
- Baby Bjorn Bouncer: Ellis is getting a bit big for this now, but for the first six months, this was really helpful. I could put him in this during mealtimes or if I quickly needed to bring Rory upstairs for a diaper change. It was also a good spot to get him to relax and get sleepy for naptime.
- Baby Brezza: I probably get a DM once a week asking if this is a worthwhile purchase. Finn and I both agree that this is our number one baby item. You can make a bottle in 15 seconds flat. We even rented one for our recent vacation.
- Dockatot: We like this for the newborn phase because it’s a cozy spot to put the baby to keep him nearby while playing with your toddler. I’d place Ellis in this on the couch and then sit on the floor with Rory to play.
- Baby Activity Center: Ellis just started using this and it’s a great place to put him so he can see the action and watch Rory play.
- Baby Bathtub: We bathe Rory in the bathtub and use this seat for Ellis in our kitchen sink. It’s handy when they both need baths at the same time!
I haven’t purchased a double stroller for the kids yet. We just bought the adapters for our Uppa Baby to place both the car seat and the rumble seat in it and that has worked fine. I’m planning to buy one in the coming months now that Ellis is almost big enough for a rumble seat. Any favorites side-by-side strollers that you like? Let me know in the comments!
Finding Our Groove
So do we have it all figured out as a family of four? Heck no! The transition from one to two kids is a big one! But, we are giving ourselves grace and figuring it out as we go. This parenthood ride is wild and we wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.