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When you’re expecting your first child, you read a million books on the subject because you’re nervous and you have no idea what you’re doing and you want to do everything right. When you’re expecting your second child, you might glance at a couple of dog-eared pages, but you’re pretty sure you’ve got this because you’ve done it before and, although you might not be an expert, you’re a lot smarter than you were the first time around.
There are, however, some things I wish I had known, but didn’t, before I had my second child. So if you’re expecting Baby #2, here are just a few things the books won’t tell you.
Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Had My Second Child
1. You’re not a horrible person if you’re disappointed when you find out the gender
When I went to bed the night we found out we were having another boy, I sobbed (but silently because I couldn’t let my husband know what a terrible mother I was!). It wasn’t that I had my heart set on a girl as much as that I was worried about how it would change my relationship with my oldest. It only took a few days, though, before I had adjusted to the news and started getting excited about having our second son.
Bottom line: You’re not a terrible mom for feeling let down. You might be a terrible mom if you never get over your disappointment. And you’re definitely a terrible mom if you tell your kid that you wish she was a boy every chance you get. Not judging; just saying.
2. Your love for your second child might look different than it did for your first
The overwhelming love that slammed into me when we had our first child was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. It was amazing and intoxicating and I naively thought it would be exactly the same way the second time around. When I didn’t immediately feel that same staggering bond with our second, I felt worried and guilty. I finally realized that this time I already knew what a mother’s love was like, so it didn’t take me by surprise like it did with our first.
Bottom line: The bond might feel different this time, but you will absolutely love your second as much as your first. Sometimes, like when your first has thrown himself screaming on the floor in the middle of Target while your second sits in the cart like an angel, you’ll even love him more than your first.
3. The things you think you did right with your oldest probably had nothing to do with you
I admit it; I thought my husband and I had really superb parenting skills. Then we had our second kid. It is shocking how different two kids in the same family can be.
Our first son nursed like a champ, but getting our second to even latch on was a nightmare of epic proportions (one hungry, screaming infant + one frustrated, bawling mother X thirty minutes every two hours = something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Well, maybe that one chick, but not the rest of them.). Our oldest was talking in paragraphs by the time he turned two, and our second barely uttered a word until he was two. Our oldest never whined a day in his life; our second could win an Oscar with his theatrics.
I know this sounds like really bad news, but the converse is also true. Our oldest is a picky eater while our second will clear his plate and ask for more. Our oldest can be a little too cautious at times, but our second willingly takes risks.
Bottom line: Don’t go into having Baby #2 thinking you know all of life’s parenting secrets. Life has a way of laughing in your face and showing you who’s boss. Hint: It’s not you.
4. Buying identical clothing in different sizes is a really bad idea
I think it’s weird when parents dress their kids in matching outfits, but I’m not just trying to get everyone to bow to my way of thinking (although clearly I’m right). No, this piece of advice has real, practical implications.
Imagine, if you will, a mountainous pile of freshly laundered clothing. You go to work folding the enormous stack, leaving the socks for last. Your husband’s are easy to match; you bought him the jumbo pack of black athletic socks. Then you get to your sons’ pile. You bought them both identical jumbo packs of white athletic socks in two sizes. Instead of easily grabbing any two and pairing them up, you now have to look at the sizes to make sure you’re not pairing a 2T with a 4T. Trust me, I speak from experience.
Once you’ve completed this task, you begin to put the clothes away. You now have to unfold all the socks to see whose is whose. And all those cutesy matching outfits you force your kids to wear also have to be unfolded so you can peek at the size tags. A 15 minute task has just taken you an entire morning.
Bottom line: Do yourself a favor and assign each kid a certain color to wear. Better yet, when you and your hubby are divvying up chores, give him laundry duty.
5. There will be fighting, but there’s a silver lining
My boys fight. About everything. Constantly. It makes me want to hide in my minivan with a pint of Chubby Hubby as my only companion or install a punching bag (for me, not them. Although maybe that would lessen the arguments… or strengthen their swing, so never mind, I’ll keep the punching bag for myself.). However, I have found one consolation. Despite the non-stop fighting at home, when we’re out in public, they are fiercely protective of each other.
One day I had carpool duty. The kids were yelling and laughing and having a grand old time until one of them made a joke about our younger son. He wasn’t trying to be mean; in fact, if we had been home alone, my oldest probably would have made the same joke. But the fact that someone else was making fun of his brother did not fly. “YOU SHUT UP!” my oldest yelled angrily.
Outwardly I calmed the situation and informed everyone that kind words were the only ones I wanted to hear, but inwardly I was doing a happy dance. When we got home I told my son how proud I was of him, not because of the words he used, but because he stood up for his brother instead of joining in the teasing.
Bottom line: It might seem like they’ll never get along, but their love for each other will shine through in sweet and unexpected ways.
I could go on, but I’d love to hear what other moms with two or more would add to the list. What’s your best piece of advice for moms who are expecting Number 2? And please don’t tell them to stop at one. That ship has already sailed, and although there may be rough waters, they won’t regret the trip!
Lauren is a wife, mom of three, and the writer behind Oh, Honestly. She loves to share the real life joys and trials of motherhood so other moms will know they’re not alone. She is also the author of The Words Your Kids Need: The Value of Writing to Your Children and How to Do It With Ease.
Morgan Adams says
I use to worry if I would love the 2nd as much as the first, because he was so perfect how could I get it right again? Well, the second the second was born, I realized I had been being silly. I just had baby #4 and they are all so incredibly perfect to me & I love them all exactly the same, but they are all so very different. Your heart just grows!
It’s true! There’s always enough room in your heart!
I love this! I am cracking up about the matching clothes! I always think that is a bit strange…
Haha, I’m glad I’m not alone!
That made me laugh too. I have six kids and I often dress the younger ones matching, or at least the same color scheme, because honestly- at this point I can’t count them all and they’re easier to round up if they’re all wearing the same thing! But yeah, the socks! No matching socks, ever! Also, I sort their clothes straight from the dryer into individual, name-labeled laundry baskets so I only have to sort ONCE, and hang their dresses on different colored hangers so its easy to tell whose are whose. Makes it a lot easier.
I need a labeler! Also, that colored hanger idea is GENIUS!
I wash my girls socks in a zippered lingerie or sweater bag. No sorting ever!
What’s with the Lauren’s not liking matching clothes? I LOVE to match our girls…they only like to do it sometimes though. Can’t please everyone huh?! lol!
LOL! Maybe I would feel differently if I had two girls? I just remember sitting in church one day and realizing Eric, Eli, and I (there were only three of us at the time) all had orange on. It was embarrassing. We hadn’t planned it, but people probably thought we did.
Jodi Flaherty says
So glad I stopped by! We sound SO much alike! My kids are polar opposites too! Older one overly cautious, 2nd flat out stunt man!
It must have something to do with being the overprotective first time moms. When the second comes along, they get away with a whole lot more, lol.
Have to disagree, my first one is absolutely fearless and a bit reckless!!
I was going to say ‘That’s great; you probably are a chill, relaxed mom.’ and then I thought… wait, should I say it’s great that her kid thinks nothing of jumping off a porch roof? Haha. Maybe your oldest can get together with my second. I bet they’d have fun!
I think it’s a kids innate personality. We have only one, but we encourage her to take risks and we are quite laid back. (Climbing on the couch? No biggie) And yet our daughter is very cautious indeed. I know on my part, her cautiousness causes me to encourage her to take risks, but I think her cautiousness is just part of who she is.
I think that’s completely true! And it’s shocking how different siblings can be from one another.
I definitely empathize with the initial feelings of not loving child #2 as much. In fact, because my older boy (27.5 months old) is more interactive and talks to me, it still feels like he’s currently my favorite. And when I was gone all this week, it’s him I missed the most. But just in case my younger son (6 months old) reads this someday, I hope the love will have long equaled out by then. They certainly love each other! The baby lights up whenever he sees his toddler big brother, and toddler big brother loves to help out with baby.
Aaron, Eric would say the same exact thing. I think that’s a common thing for dads especially to feel. And it will definitely even out for you. Eric loves both of them tremendously, and I would say he’s even a bit more protective of Samuel than Eli due to some of the little health ‘issues’ Samuel has had.
Bronwyn Joy says
I recently read that the opposite of sibling love was not sibling rivalry, but sibling indifference. It’s my new motto! Although it’s come a little too late because our intense rivalry phase seems to be giving way (probably temporarily) to a partners-in-crime phase. They’re a team! But they’re deliberately working against us.
Also a mother of four once loftily told us that if any of her *four* (hint: “I’m clearly the expert”) children did what my eldest was doing then she’d XYZ and bam, no more problem. Which only went to show me that you can have four whole children and still be ignorant, because we’d recently stopped doing XYZ after realising it was making a small problem into an enormously huge problem.
We stuck to not-following her advice and the problem resolved completely within a few more weeks of not doing XYZ any more.
LOL, it’s funny; the only thing I’ve learned with each successive kid is how much I don’t know!
I love the sibling indifference thing! What a great way to look at it!!
Julie Beveridge says
When you have your second it is scary, but the third you throw out all the rules and really just fly by the seat of your pants, its a wonder thirds and after survive! I do love that the partner gets laundry duty! Haha!
So true! When I had my third, it was like a mini-vacation at the hospital. The nurses left me alone unless they had to check my vitals. The previous two times it was like they were there all the time. I don’t know if it was a policy change or they just figured I finally knew what I was doing, but either way, it was nice!
Love this and soooo true. I have two girls, 5 and almost 3, so I completely understand all of this. Like you when I found out I was having a second girl, I was hit with the disappointment and then guilt that I felt disappointed. It is so amazing how your love for your two children does look different but it doesn’t mean you love one more than the other.
Angela @ Trusting the Journey of Motherhood
I’m glad you can relate! It’s fun to see the differences between the two as well, especially as they get older and their personalities develop more and more.
So, so true! Good post! 🙂
Michelle F. says
That is a great list to have. I am slowly thinking about baby #2 so this is perfect for me.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it!!
I love #3. Sometimes we think that we have this parenting thing down right, and then we have a completely different kid!
It’s amazing how different they are!
So true. No matter how many children you have, each is different. Parenting is not an easy job by any means. Thanks so much for linking this post up to Mommy Needs a Timeout Thursday. Hope you link up with us again!
Twin Tested, Pin Approved
I’m pregnant and expecting my second child, so I was excited to find this list. I am not sure about the gender yet, but secretly hoping for a girl this time.
Congratulations!! Will you find out ahead of time or will you wait until the baby is born?
Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom says
I used to worry about my first when I was pregnant with my second – wow, how unfair it was to him that I was going to have to take all my attention away from his little self to share it with another! And I’m a second child myself so I really struggled with the fact that I felt that way!
And then she arrived and it was the best thing ever for me to have a second. Because I had to let go of my first and the whole notion of being the perfect mom who nurtured him correctly, etc. I relaxed, too, because I just couldn’t do it all anymore. Best thing ever for me to have a 2nd!
Agree 100%! I think it’s good for our oldest kids too, not just us. It teaches them that they’re not the center of the universe. Not the most fun lesson to learn, but a necessary one!
Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom says
PS Visiting from SITS Sharefest!
Great post! I was disappointed for a bit when I found out I was having a second son – I knew I wasn’t going to be having anymore kids, so I was sad I would never have a daughter. But I got over it quickly, and I love being a two boy mom! The hardest part for me was how much they fight.
It is fun to have boys and it’s nice to know they have each other. Sometimes I feel bad that my daughter doesn’t have a sister (I have three), but maybe that just means she and I will be even better friends?? (A mom can hope, right?)
I’m so glad I found this post (thank you, SITSgirls!) because I am due any day with baby #2. I’ve done NO reading to prepare for the second (like you said) and I feel like this was the dose of honesty I needed to prepare my expectations! Thanks!
Congratulations!! How exciting! Two can be a lot of work, but I found it easier the second time around because I knew what to do with a baby instead of having all of that to learn. You’ll do great!
I’m unmarried with no children, but I still loved everything about this post. I wanted to read it because I never, ever hear anything about what to expect when you’re expecting child #2, haha. I’m super glad I stumbled upon this advice, so I can remember it when it’s time to start having kids! Thanks for sharing your wisdom! 🙂
Thanks Monique! It’s true; there’s SO MUCH info about having your first baby and then… nothing. (Although it’s also true that it’s not nearly as scary the second time around. But there’s still a learning curve, even with the third!) Good luck with your future babies 🙂
Except for the fact that you have two boys and I have two girls, our lives seem very similar. Every point you made up there was very real for me!
Even down to buying hubby the black athletic socks 🙂
My first is my calm baby, very intelligent, Second? a reckless diva with an appetitie to suit!
Thank you for making me feel a little more normal!
I’m glad you found this relateable! It’s amazing how different two kids in the same family can be!!
My first 2 are boy, then girl. I could not get over the differences in their baby noises. With my second, everything was so ‘girly’ (not that it was a bad thing)!
I have a boy 8, and a girl 5, they are also constantly fighting, and when they aren’t fighting they’re play fighting/wrestling (she’s a little tomboy in a tutu lol). But the “socks” part made me laugh the most, I ended up colour coding the white bundles of socks with coloured fabric markers, so now they both have a big green or red dot on the bottoms of their socks
That’s awesome! Maybe I’ll do that too!
I loved this post. You hit the nail right on the head with #2. Thanks!
Thanks Kelly! I’m glad you can relate!!
Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for admitting that meeting that second little one is not quite the same. I felt terrible when I looked at my sweet girl and didn’t feel that rush like I did with my first. It felt like it took a little more time to get to know her because I was so worried about how my little guy would react to sharing our attention. It is definitely different!
It’s so good to know that I’m not alone! I felt really bad about that for a long time.
I’m still trying to work out things I wish I knew w my first lol! Thanks for the insightful post!
I’m still trying to work things out with my first too 😉 That’s definitely the biggest learning curve. I bet you’re doing just fine!
I could not love this more…Everyone of them were true! I have three now and each one is their own little soul! Thanks for helping! I will be sharing this over at my facebook page tomorrow!
Thanks so much Cassandra! You’re right; they’re all so different. (I’m actually writing a follow-up to this one: Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Had My Third Child 🙂 )
I love this. I am currently pregnant with baby girl #2 and felt a little disappointed because we wanted a boy this time. But our 3 year old is so excited to have a “new” baby sister (quoting her) lol. This helps a lot!
Congratulations! I bet it will be nice to have two girls. Sure, they’ll fight a lot, but there’s something special about sisters (I know because I have three 🙂 ).
Logan Can says
I love this! It is just so real of what to expect instead of the normal sugar-coated “it will be great” stuff I read. My son was awesome at nursing, so I am a little nervous about this one. I guess I’m just nervous about the unexpected. Not knowing. I know that it’s important to take it a day at a time, though. Thank you for linking this to my post. I enjoyed reading it.
You’ll do great! Just remember to give yourself lots of grace. (And your next one could be a great nurser too… you just never know!)
About little socks, at least from babyhood through preschool, wash them in those mesh bags for delicate underthings. Maybe put a tag with names on two separate bags. Keep the socks of different sizes separate when they come off. Put directly in the bags, wash all together. Never lose/mix up baby socks again.
That’s a great idea! Thanks!!
So glad to have stumbled upon this. We’re expecting our second and my biggest worry is what it will be like for our oldest, who is almost 2. I spend a lot of time playing with him, reading to him and snuggling him and don’t often tell him no when he wants to do things together, mainly because usually there isn’t a reason for it (other than if I’m cooking or doing chores, to which I will let him help out or ask him to be patient.) I worry that it’s going to be really difficult for him when baby arrives because he isn’t used to playing alone. Part of me thinks I should focus more on encouraging his independence before baby arrives and part of me just wants to soak it all in before my time is split between two. I keep telling myself that either way it is going to be a transition for him so I just need to do whatever I feel is right for now (which is usually spending as much time with him as I can) and cross that bridge when we get to it.
I think you’re doing it exactly right! You won’t regret the time you spend with him. (Chances are, being the firstborn, he’ll always crave that one on one attention anyway. My oldest is the worst of my three kids at playing by himself and he much prefers to do things with other people. That’s not to scare you though… he can and is independent when he wants/needs to be 🙂 )
Ellen Oliveira says
I only have one but it’s better to be prepared… I was totally thinking “hey I’ve got this, I’ve done it before” I would have been in for a real wake up call. Not anymore… Thanks for sharing!
You’ll find that you DO have it because it’s not nearly the shock and learning curve that it is the first time. But there are definitely parts of it that will surprise you, so it’s better to go in expecting differences. Thanks for reading!
So true and I relate to this due to having 2 boys, both at young ages. We think with the second child we already have the answers, well for the most part AND then we don’t have the answers due to worrying about the first not getting all of the attention or our time anymore. It is natural and us mothers that have more than 1 child promise you that it is twice the efforts and time, but also twice as much rewarding! I grew up as a only child and promised myself I would always have at least 2 children… I wonder to myself what I was thinking when they are arguing and competing with each other, but again… My boys always have each other while they are young to argue with each either and learn from but as grow older they have a best friend for life!! My best advice is, 2 or more is more love, rewarding, laughter, memories, and smiles letting you know that you are doing your job as a great Mommy!!
I totally agree!
I don’t know why, but #5 got me teary eyed. Kudos to you and big brother 🙂
Aww, thank you!
I was “slightly ” disappointed when I found out I was having another boy but seeing them play together now I’m quite happy they are brothers
I feel the same exact way!
Preparing for the arrival of my second son at the moment. THANK-YOU for sharing about your ultrasound disappointment 🙂 I just found out the sex of our second child and I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad. Seeing the pic of your 3 kids also gave me a bit of hope haha. Also, that sock advice is perhaps the BEST advice I have ever heard. I will be sure to assign my boys colour-coded socks only!
I’m so glad it helped Jenny! And the socks… yeah. It’ll save you hours, haha.
This is a great post. I will have to remember these tips for when we have a second child. #4 is my favorite; when I was a nanny, I hated doing their laundry because the clothes looked so similar (they had four children in private school).
The point I found most encouraging was the one about loving your second as much as your first and how it feels different because you already know what a mothers love feels like. I’m expecting my second in less than three months and it’s something I’ve definitely worried about.
I love that there are others out there that think dressing kids the same is ridiculous. I’ve snickered at kids who are dressed the same. It’s funny because clearly their mother dressed them! Ha! And the same socks?! C’mon! Lol That’s just common sense!
You’ll be great! It’s an adjustment, but the love thing comes naturally, even if it doesn’t come with the same intensity.
Loved it where is part two? 😊
I have one about three kids 😉
The overwhelming thing I felt, which absolutely nobody warned me about, was guilt!!! Guilt that you can’t give your first the attention they once had, guilt that your second will NEVER get the attention the first had. Guilt that you have to say no to silly fun things you used to once encourage. Guilt that you don’t have the energy and enthusiasm you once had for either of your children. Guilt that the phrase “I’ll be there in a minute” has crept into the house hold numerous times per day. Guilt that tv is now the babysitter in a household where that behaviour was once frowned upon. I could go on, but my first year was ram packed with guilt… Easing a little now x
Oh yes. Mom guilt follows you around everywhere! I’ve written a few posts about that too 😉
I am currant ly pregnant with baby number 2 I have a daughter and a son on the way my biggest fear is the oldest not wanting to share mommy and daddy than what about him being a boy is I’m kinda nervous about my oldest not having some one to play with besides her brother and him having to be circumstance as a baby am I just being paranoid?
Congratulations! There will be a transition time for sure, but it might not be as bad as you think. How old is your daughter?
I also bet you’ll find that they become fast friends. My middle son and youngest (the only girl) play really well together.
As for circumcising, if you’re going to do it, I think it’s much better to do it now than wait until later. He won’t remember it and it heals really quickly.
I love number 5. My boys are still little (3 1/2 and 21 months) but I’m hoping that one day my big guy will be standing up for my little guy in the same way. And you’re right, I think in private it’s a constant wrestling match, but have someone from the outside take a swipe at either one and LOOK OUT! This was very entertaining – thanks for posting!