"Our family dynamic changed." 4 unexpected things that happened when I had a second child.

When I was pregnant with my second, people who had over one kid welcomed me into their club but also gave me their fair share of advice. 

They warned me about how the work doesn't double; it's exponential. They told me I will experience an unimaginable level of tiredness.

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So I knew all of that. But there were many things I didn't expect once my son was born, things no one could really explain to me until I experienced it myself.

Constantly acting as a referee.

When my son was a baby, my daughter didn't interact with him much. She ogled at his little feet and thought he was this blob of flesh that magically appeared in her home after a weekend with grandpa and grandma.

There were moments when I could sense she was jealous of how much time I was spending with the new baby. However, she had no ill feelings toward him.

Jump forward a couple of years and my son is now a running, talking, punching and kicking little fellow. And so is my daughter. There isn't a day that goes by where I have to physically separate the two. And it always happens when I least expect it.

They would be quietly playing in the living room and suddenly, I'll hear a scream, cry, slap or thud and I have to quickly figure out how to stop them from tearing down the house.

My years of conflict resolution experience can barely stand up to the daily arguments about who touched whom, who stole whose toy or who got into each other's personal space first.

However, I recently started seeing their sibling rivalry turn into a lifelong bond. They were both drawing in the living room. My son 'oohs' and 'ahs' at his sister's perfect hearts and stars. While he's colouring, my daughter comments on how well he stayed within the lines. Those are the moments that make me believe that I'll eventually get promoted from a referee to a coach.

Adopting a completely different parenting style.

I now believe that kids are born the way they are born. My daughter was our trick baby as in she was the little angel that tricked us into having a second. She is a good sleeper and eater and likes to follow rules. She knows when she's done something wrong and will try her best to not do it again. Conventional discipline such as having firm discussions, and giving warnings and consequences work for her.


But our son tests the boundaries at every chance he gets and he's not afraid to push further. His level of curiosity is far beyond what I'm comfortable with. He doesn't look before he jumps; he just jumps. He expresses himself through physical movement. He hits, screams, spits and bites to show his frustration.

I've had to adopt a completely different parenting style to manage his behaviour. I never thought I would have to re-learn how to parent; however, now I appreciate the uniqueness of each of my children and how different their needs truly are.

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Feeling guilty for spending too much time with one kid.

When we were a family of three, I knew whenever I had a free moment, I could play with my daughter and spend quality time building and deepening our relationship.

But now with two kids, I have to split that undivided attention between them. That means I'm not able to spend as much time with my daughter anymore and I feel guilty about that.

In addition, I want my son to have the same opportunity to strengthen our relationship as my daughter did when she was his age. But that's not possible because I don't have the same amount of time anymore. I feel guilty about that.

However, I've gradually come to accept this reality. During the time that I do have with each child, I try to be as present as I can so that they know I love and care for them equally. I remind myself it's about quality, not quantity.

Quickly forgetting what it was like with just the one.

I thought those memories with our daughter would be as vivid as those that we created yesterday. But the truth is, I remember little of what it was like when it was the three of us.

Our family dynamic changed drastically when we came home with our son. But after that, we quickly adjusted to the new normal because he’s been in our lives every single day.

I know it's busier and more chaotic now than when we had one kid; however, I have no desire to go back in time. All that craziness means more challenges to overcome, more lessons to learn, more adventures to go on and more memories to create together as a family of four.

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