With a second baby in the works — or in your arms — you’re probably doing your fair share of fretting. Will your firstborn learn to love a sibling? Will you be able to handle the demands of a bigger brood? Will your body ever recover?
I shared the same questions when I learned that I was expecting a second bundle of joy. But nearly three years into the two-kid thing, I’m happy to share the answers: absolutely, without a doubt, and probably (with a few sit-ups and some SPANX, anyway). This time around, you have more parenting experience, fewer hang-ups, and expert diapering skills. Still not convinced? Here are 20 reasons having a second (or third, or fourth…) child is one of life’s greatest experiences.
- Realistic Standards. First children are groomed like prize poodles, but when a new baby arrives, things relax. Crumb-covered cheeks, mismatched outfits, haphazard hair — they all add to the secondborn’s charm.
- Babies-R-Us. No need to spring for a new stroller or crib. Your house is already stocked with kid-gear, eliminating the need to spend hours cruising baby-goods emporiums—unless you dig that sort of thing.
- Independence Day. Firstborns are notorious attention-hogs, but younger siblings never had undivided parental attention, so they don’t expect it. Independent play is a beautiful thing!
- Confident Discipline. No need to consult the latest parenting book for every tantrum or time out — you know what flies and what doesn’t in your household.
- Sympathy. Your siblings no longer expect you to organize the family Christmas dinner, and your friends give you a break you skip the book club pick. After all, you’ve got your hands full with all those kids.
- World’s Cutest Vacuum. Finally—some long-awaited cleaning help! When your oldest isn’t so careful with his Cheerios, don’t worry, because the baby will Hoover them off the floor in no time.
- Family Bonding. When baby two arrives, your older child has a built-in friend. Until the baby learns to crawl and steal Legos, that is.
- Little Workhorse. Preschoolers love affixing stickers to everything, including hardwood floors, windows, and kitchen cabinets. Luckily, crawling babies love peeling stickers. (The drool actually helps.)
- Nights Out. Remember when your spouse or girlfriends had to drag you away from your first baby for a much-needed evening away? These days, you appreciate the value of a good babysitter. Date night, here you come.
- Kodak Moments. You’ll melt—and scramble for the camera—the first time your oldest cradles their baby sibling. (Better hurry and snap that pic, because those moments are as brief as they are heart-warming.)
- Mom-to-Mom Support. It takes time to find and gel with a new group of mom friends. Now that you’re welcoming another child, you’ve likely found a few mommy pals to share the ups and downs.
- Doctor Mom. With firstborn babies, every sneeze and scrape prompts a “just-in-case” doctor visit. When baby two arrives you aren’t fazed by a runny nose or a gnarly rash—and you’re able to spot a true emergency when you see one.
- Family Matters. Grandpa doesn’t do diapers? Auntie flakes on babysitting duties? The birth of your first child ushers in a whole new understanding of your extended family. When baby two arrives, you know whom to call in a pinch.
- Cannonball. With two or more kids in the family, you can finally justify that new pool or swingset. And if you’ve been dreaming of a new ride, now’s your chance (sadly, it will probably feature a third-row seat).
- Planet Me. When your only child becomes an oldest child, his world suddenly includes daily lessons in sharing, patience, and cooperation. The payoff is a child who gets that he’s not the (only) center of the universe.
- Carried Away. Take note: baby carriers have come a long way from the bulky backpacks of years past. A good carrier is practically mandatory (and makes a cute accessory) when there are multiple children underfoot.
- Baby Proof. When the new baby masters crawling, you won’t be fretting over your electrical sockets and stairways; your house is probably still fully baby-proofed.
- Perspective. By now, you’ve learned to let go of the small stuff. Diaper blowouts and spit up catastrophes are no sweat—clothes and babies are both waterproof and washable.
- Stretch Pants. Pregnancy and its aftermath are hard on your body and even harder on your wardrobe. Now that your closet holds mommy duds in various sizes, you don’t have to worry about finding something that fits. You just have to worry about whether it’s clean.
- More Joy. Now that you have firsthand experience with the fleeting magic of babyhood, you’re better prepared to appreciate its wonder. So grab some coffee, charge your camera—and prepare to love every sticky, sweet, sleepless moment.
Malia Jacobson is a nationally published freelance writer and a happy mom of two.