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 Michelle from Sandy Toes and Scooters.
Tell me a bit about yourself, your family and your blog.
I’m Michelle and I live in the Lake District, UK with my husband and three children. I have two boys, age six and four, and my rainbow baby girl who is one. We love to travel and also to make the most of where we live, so we are often out and about around the Lakes. I started the blog to document our adventures, as with three children I have found time passing by at a frightening speed and I want to capture what I could before these moment pass by.
What age gap did you have between your first and second children? What’s their relationship like?
There are two years two months between them, which with two boys is apparently the age gap that results in the most competitive sibling relationship. They ARE competitive but they actually get on brilliantly; they have completely different personalities which seem to complement each other. Even on those days they can’t stand each other they always seem to want to be near to each other! And they are brilliant at reassuring each other when one of them is worried or sad about something which is so lovely to see.
What was the hardest thing about having a second child?
I would say the guilt that having to divide your time and attention brings. There were (and still are) so many times I felt terrible for not being able to give my undivided attention to both children. I felt guilty for not being able to continue to give my toddler the time with me he had been used to, and guilty that I couldn’t give my baby the same time with me that his brother had enjoyed. At times it was quite overwhelming but it has definitely become easier to find a balance over time. Oh and naps. Trying to coordinate baby naps with a toddler’s busy social life was beyond tricky!
What was the best thing about having a second child?
It is SO hard to settle on one thing as adding a second child to the mix just brought so much loveliness. However, I would say that being able to enjoy watching him grow and develop without worrying about all the small stuff that we did first time round has been amazing, even now nearly four years on. Also, being able to watch their sibling bond develop has just been gorgeous (between the fights!) and we feel so lucky that they have each other to grow up with.
Were there any products that made life with an older sibling and a newborn easier?
A sling! I used a stretchy wrap for the first three months or so, then I switched to a Boba which I still use now with my little girl. After a feed I used to snuggle my baby in the sling and I could play and get around with my toddler with no problems. I honestly can’t imagine how I would have survived those early weeks and months without one. I would advise anyone who is expecting their second child to find a local sling group (or an online one if there aren’t any locally) and ask their advice about what might suit and hire one to try.
My other favourite item was a balloon and kitchen spatula combo… slightly obscure but I found it a total lifesaver. I used to sit on the sofa breastfeeding the baby while playing bat the balloon back and forth with my boy. For hours. People had given us gifts to sit and do together while I was feeding but he was much happier jumping around going crazy with a balloon!
What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone expecting their second baby?
Do whatever you need to do to survive, and don’t feel guilty about it! Whether that’s more screen time than everyone should probably have, cake for breakfast, un-ironed shirts hidden under jumpers, saying no to visitors (I found this hugely important), sporadic baths for the older sibling, time away from social media, pizza for tea three times a week…..just do whatever you need to do. It’s a whirlwind time but it doesn’t last forever and the priorities are love, care and sleep, for everyone. And everything else can wait.