Let me first assure you that last week’s poll had NOTHING to do with me contemplating a fourth child. Promise! 🙂 I included three to four because I thought there was a slight chance someone might think that, but seriously doubted that anyone would answer that way. But, I wanted some very scientific research to see if others supported my theory. Here’s the survey (and you can still vote!).
My theory is that one-to-two is most life-changing for the majority of parents (please note: I am NOT saying that parenting one child is easy or makes you any less of a parent, etc…It’s just that my perspective is as a mother of three, so I’m looking back over three specific life changes). I knew it was for us, and just wondered what others who have two or more thought, too. I know that many consider two-to-three the hardest, since you and your husband have to shift to zone defense, but that wasn’t the case for us.
For us, there were several reasons that adding Bennett (bless his heart) to the family made the transition difficult. Looking back, it was definitely a combination of things. His contribution to the situation was that he spit up all the time – and I do mean ALL. THE. TIME. – so it was just so much more work than I was anticipating, combined with worry that he wasn’t getting enough to eat and that he might be in pain. Turns out he was what our doc called a “happy spitter” meaning that he didn’t really have any acid reflux problems, he just made a mess all the time. And he really was a happy baby!
But I think that the biggest reason it was more difficult was that I was so much busier when I had him than when I had Luke. When Luke was a newborn I was starting a new job as a consultant for a federal grant, and while it was stressful in that it was new and my group was in uncharted territory, I wasn’t working all that much. By the time Bennett came along, I was not only in the thick of parenting a toddler for the first time, but my job was much busier. I was back to work just a couple of weeks after he was born, and presenting at a conference when he was about 9 weeks old. Plus, I stressed about Luke getting enough attention. Maybe it’s because I am a first-born, too, and just realized (subconsciously, as I was only 2 when my little brother was born) how your world is turned upside down when an only becomes an oldest.
I also made the mistake of not managing my time as well as I do now. Not that I’ve perfected it by any means, but I certainly have some tried-and-true tricks that make life easier and keep my sanity intact, like meal-planning, for instance. And insisting on early bedtimes. And a glass of wine in the evening sometimes.
What about your parenting transitions (be it with one, two, three or more!) made it difficult?