Welcome to my new guest post series, Ponderings on Two, where I ask a different blogger and parent of more than one child, to share their experience of having a second child. This week, we hear from Sarah, who writes at Arthurwears.
Tell me a bit about yourself, your family and your blog.
I’m Sarah, a former EYFS Primary school Teacher and mummy to Arthur and Charlotte. We live in a little town in West Yorkshire where I moved to with my husband after graduating from university in 2006 and apart from an adventurous year in London, this is pretty much where we have stayed. I run a family lifestyle and child development blog called Arthurwears where I can be found sharing advice, info and experiences on family life and being a mum with very little time, plus lots of activity ideas and inspiration for those with or working with young children.
What age gap did you have between your first and second children? What’s their relationship like?
Arthur was 2.5 years when Charlotte was born. He was still 1 when I fell pregnant and the difference in him between then and when she arrived was vast! It was a tricky age to welcome a new baby and I’d be lying if I said it was easy – he still really needed that 1:1 attention and time but I’m not sure I’d change anything if I could – their relationship now almost a year later is lovely to see how they interact and play together and we may not have that same level if he had been older.
Arthur has always adored his baby sister. On her first night home from hospital he came into our room to see her on average every 2 hours because he was SO excited. He loves that she can do more now she is older but doesn’t always grasp that she isn’t quite as robust as he is! Charlotte loves her big brother and is always looking for him and shouting him. His name was her first word, and the first thing she asks for when she wakes up. When they see each other in the morning they both jump for joy and shower each other with kisses.
What was the hardest thing about having a second child?
Charlotte was born in the summer holidays and so Arthur was out of his nursery routine. I’d also struggled with SPD and couldn’t walk at the end of the pregnancy so we were stuck inside for weeks and again after the birth as I needed a repair surgery after labour which didn’t heal. He really struggled with the changes and we had a couple of weeks where his behaviour was tricky…totally within the normal range for a 2 year old with a new baby, but hard.
I was struggling with PND and anxiety and we didn’t really have a strong physical support network around us. The people who I thought were my friends abandoned us because of the difficulties we had with Arthur not wanting to share and pushing his friends etc and I felt very alone with two children to look after, no sleep and no one to help entertain my 2 yr old whilst I sat trying to breastfeed a very refluxy baby. It was a big shock to my system and at the time I couldn’t really see a way out of it. Of course things get easier and you learn to find a routine that works so that you can manage bedtimes alone with 2, or keep both occupied and happy.
What was the best thing about having a second child?
The love they both have for each other. I took this photo for Instagram and I think it sums it up perfectly for me. It’s the joy you feel and the joy they bring you – it’s worth all of the tough bits.
Were there any products that made life with an older sibling and a newborn easier?
A sling or baby carrier is a must. I still had to cook for, clean up after, play with and wipe a bottom for a 2 year old and I could not have done any of it without carrying Charlotte in a sling. I used a stretchy one whilst she was small and she stayed in there for the majority of the time which also helped with her reflux, and also bonding. As she got bigger I learned how to use the ergo 360 on my back which meant I could vacuum the stairs etc whilst carrying her.
For bath times we had a bath-seat for Charlotte as I had to wash and help both at the same time. A baby bouncer in the bathroom/bedroom was a must for when I was getting Arthur ready for bed and now that she is older we use the Little Helper Funpod when I need my hands free for Arthur.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Ceebeebies and amazon prime videos on the iPad haven’t been a massive help – usually if I’m trying to get Charlotte to sleep and need something to distract Arthur for a while which doesn’t require any input from me!
We bought a buggyboard with a seat for our bugaboo so Arthur can ride along when I push Charlotte in the pram which is really helpful.
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What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone expecting their second baby?
Don’t let anyone make you feel like you are doing a terrible job as a parent if your eldest goes off it for a while and you really can’t get it together with anything apart from surviving. Surviving each day is a mammoth task with more than one and if anyone judges you during those moments then see this as a little gift from your new baby in discovering just who is worth your precious time moving forward. Notice those friends who don’t care if your house is a mess, who do whatever they can to help you, however small and when the shit hits the fan will be the first ones to sit by your side and say ‘hey, me too’… and if you don’t have anyone like that, just keep searching. Go to groups, go for walks, just keep on going.
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