family life · parenting

Thinking twice about two.

Economies of scale? Clothing, maybe. Attention, definitely not!

Recently, a friend asked me about having 2 kids. He’s still at number 1, but thinking and planning for another. I just love a guy who’s proactive in family planning! As a side note, the other day when I asked a lady whom I had just met if she had any children, she answered, “Not yet”. I loved that the reply was “Not yet”, meaning, “Hopefully!” rather than “OMG NO.”, right? 🙂

His first question was, is a maid essential? I know his wife is a SAHM to a toddler girl with no help, so I said, YES! If I didn’t have my helper, I probably wouldn’t be able to:

  • have some peace to go to the loo. Actually sometimes I still can’t do it in peace but at least most of the time I can.
  • make the family any meals. Or clean the house. Right now I can just about keep an eye on both kids with a teeny bit of down time for surfing and stuff during the day. I hardly have time to even read the papers.
  • keep sane. #2 wakes up between 7-8am, and some mornings I really need a lie in for just a short while more, and I really appreciate the helper playing with him while I catch a snooze before #1 wakes.
  • Keep it all together. Seriously, it’s so good having an extra pair of arms and legs when you only have 2 arms but 2 kids.
Ok so apart from the helper, there are a few other things to consider when you’re going to have #2.
  • School. Start #1 as early as possible, if they haven’t already started to go to school. Or childcare. Many SAHMs have their kids in half or even full day childcare, especially if they don’t have helpers or other support, or don’t want helpers.
  • Sleep arrangements. A few friends and I have both kids together and we both agree it’s tough when #2 is quite young, because it tends to be that #1 is not woken up by #2 waking up, but the same is not true vice versa. And when #1 was still getting used to our new home and his new brother, he was waking up quite a bit, and also rousing #2. Fun times, that was.
  • Entertainment. I’m not talking magicians and clowns here. #1 once had you, his parents, all to himself, now he has to share you, and newborns take a lot of time, effort and most of all, your attention. When #2 was just born, we were still living with my ILs, which I felt helped quite a bit because there was my nephew and both my ILs to keep him occupied. These days I think #1 gets a little bored with me and his little brother who can’t really play with him yet. Ideally I would love to have visitors over maybe once or twice a week to have a variety of people to interact with, especially since Mittens’ school is for only 2 hours a day.

Apart from the logistics, there are of course other, more weighty considerations. People also often say, since you already have one, and all the barang, you might as well have another. Well, this is true for barang, but it’s not true for a lot of other things. Having two is twice the trouble, and until they can play together (which I figure is really about 18 months), they really require twice the effort.

  • Energy. Apart from being older, and physically less able than before, having 2 kids has been the toughest thing I have ever done. It all starts from pregnancy. When you’re pregnant with your first child, you can basically sleep whenever you want. With #2, you can forgettaboudit. And let’s not even go into how difficult it is to synchronise nap schedules!
  • Attention. I can understand now why some parents say they feel that they can’t give more than 1 kid enough attention. Research (ok, I heard this from a friend) shows that #2s sometimes speak at a later age, because they have less individual interaction/teaching/learning. But then again, research (or everyone you will talk to), also agree that having an older sibling, or interaction with other kids, is definitely good for any kid’s development. But while we’re still on Attention, many of us mums with more than 1 kid don’t even bother with enrichment classes and the like. Or at least not when they’re so young. Where got time to fetch one here and there while keeping the other entertained and making sure his nap schedules don’t get too interrupted??
  • Routines & Dynamics. You probably already have some kind of routine established with #1, but another baby just throws everything out of whack. We were lucky that we hardly had any major tantrums before #2 was born, but after he was, it was like #1 was a whole different boy. Maybe it was also the fact that he’s getting older and going through changes, but it just made things more difficult for me. And he’s still not over the phase yet.

All in all, I’m amazed at how time has flown and it’s fast becoming 14 months since our family grew by a digit (or unit?). I’m so blessed that I’ve had the chance to spend so much time with the 2 monsters. Every day is a new opportunity to learn, and I know I have so much more to go before I’m the (calm, happy) mother that I want to be! Here’s to me, and to all parents who are just trying their best to be the best parents they can be.

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