It's no surprise that life changes when a new child is added to a family's mix. Of course, things will become busier and managing the same tasks as before will probably become a bit more tricky. When it comes to multitasking you'll become a pro, simply because logistics will make it necessary. But aside from the obvious things that I expected to change when our family added another little one, there were still some things that took me by surprise. Some of these were less than ideal, but a great many were actually like wonderful bonuses to having a bigger family. Here are just a few:
1. The seasonal sickness is on another level
My first child NEVER got sick. OK, "never" may be a slight overstatement, but I could count on one hand the number of times I had to take her to the doctor for an illness or even had to give her any type of medicine for her symptoms. Beyond a little cold, she was the picture of health. Enter Child #2 and the seasonal sickness was taken to an entirely new level. Keeping the germs at bay is all but impossible and I'm not even sure I could count on two hands the number of colds we've dealt with this winter, not to mention our bouts with stomach bugs. I'm pretty sure my kids just passed bugs back and forth (to each other and us) all winter long. Extra kids = extra opportunities for sickness to enter your midst. An unfortunate truth to be sure.
Life was so much more calm when we only had one child, but with another in the midst (and a third on the way!) the chaos quotient has definitely increased. Thankfully, with the chaos comes a supernatural skill for just embracing it... or if not fully "embracing" than at least accepting. I'm pretty sure I'm still in the acceptance phase. Perhaps Baby #3 will help me to fully embrace the crazy.
3. Your heart really does make room
Before I had my second child, I could not believe that my heart could possibly make room to love another child as much as I loved my first. She was my first... my baby... the one who made me a mother. I muddled through that first year together with her while we figured this out and I felt that we were probably not all that dissimilar from friends created in the throes of war—bonded together deeply from their dependence on one another. How could I possibly bond with another child quite like that? While it is true that the bonding with my second was different, my heart really did make room for him and the bond we have now is something fierce.
4. The clothing situation
I used to put quite a lot of thought and effort into dressing my first child, because I enjoyed it and I had the time. Nowadays I care a whole lot less. While you probably still won't see my kids out in public wearing pajamas, you'll definitely see my daughter wearing mismatched clothing that she chose herself and my son... well, I'm just lucky if I can get him to put on pants. There are so many things on the to-do list when you're a parent and spending extra time coming up with cute outfits isn't always one of them.
Life can still be wonderful, but the likelihood that you're going to be a bit of a hot mess sometimes just comes with the territory.
5. You get a whole lot better at time management... and delegation
I've always been fairly good at time management and balancing a lot of things on my plate, but having more kids has taken this skill to the next level. I very quickly learned that unless I became a boss at multitasking and staying focused on a schedule, I was never going to get anything done. It also helps that I've gotten a whole lot better at delegating things to other people. I've realized that I am only one woman and I cannot do it all, and that's OK.
6. Follow through becomes a bit of a nightmare
I used to cringe when I'd see those parents at the grocery store making empty threats toward their children. Hearing them "promise" that if their child did X, Y or Z "one more time" that X, Y or Z consequence would ensue and then watching as the child repeated the same action without any follow-through from the parent. I remember thinking that this was something I wouldn't do with my kids, because I believe that following through is so important. Enter Child #2 and I learned pretty quickly that sometimes it's hard to follow through with your toddler while simultaneously trying to calm a crying infant. There's only one of you and two (or more) of them, so sometimes you just won't have the capability of putting out every fire in the same way you were once able to. For the most part I still try to follow through, but it's definitely a lot more work than it used to be.
7. You realize there really isn't ONE right way to parent
I've never thought myself to be a perfect parent by any means, but in some aspects I certainly liked to believe (though I never would've said it out loud) that I sort of had a corner on this parenting thing. I thought I knew how to deal with sleep and tantrums and strong wills... and then I had my son. I discovered with haste that my son is a completely different kid and needed to be approached in a completely different way. I now have physical proof in the form of my second child that every child is different and thus, there is not one right way to parent.
8. The standard for cleanliness goes down...notably
I'm a bit compulsive when it comes to tidiness, but once you add more kids to the mix, your standards definitely go down. Things are definitely a lot dustier around here these days, but hey, you've got to choose your battles, right?
9. It gets a lot more difficult to "have it all together"
As moms it's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to do it all and have it all together. With one child this is still a possibility to some extent, but the more kids you add to the mix, the harder it gets to maintain. Life can still be wonderful, but the likelihood that you're going to be a bit of a hot mess sometimes just comes with the territory.
10. You realize that sometimes more kids actually makes life easier
This one completely blew my mind. Who knew that having more kids could possibly make life easier? But in a lot of ways it actually does. Having built-in playmates for your kids is the best thing ever. Most of the time they're able to distract and entertain each other far better than I ever could. Having more kids has also helped each of mine to realize that the world doesn't actually revolve around them (gasp!) and that sometimes they just have to be patient or figure something out for themselves. It's been the best silver lining to all the chaos.