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One Kid to Two, is it Really *that* Different?

By caseymullins |

One is an accessory, two is a lifestyle.” -Sex and the City.

I ran into a woman in the bathroom at the baby store who felt she needed to explain why her kids were 18 months apart. “I couldn’t get pregnant! I REALLY COULDN’T! I did IVF and finally got my baby! Then nine months later! TURNS OUT I CAN GET PREGNANT! I HAVE TWO KIDS UNDER TWO!!” The crazed fury in her eyes was palpable. Needless to say if you were to ask *this* particular mom if two is a little different than just one? She’s going to say yes. YES! YEEESSSSS!!!!

How do I feel about the adjustment from one to two? Not how I had expected, that’s for sure.

To be fair my kids are six and half years apart. Until Vivi was born I hadn’t changed a diaper in almost four years. Bottles, sleep schedules, nap schedules, diaper bags, blowouts, teething and finger foods were all a thing of the very distant past. I had read that when you have a big gap between kids it can feel like starting all over again. The new mom panic, the “What the hell do I do with a screaming inconsolable kid at two am?” panic, not to mention all the stuff.

It wasn’t like this for me. I know I survived once with an inconsolable kid at two am and she’s in the next room over just fine. When experienced moms tell new moms “Babies cry for no reason sometimes.” It’s hard to believe. With my first I was just certain I was doing SOMETHING wrong. But I wasn’t. Sometimes babies just cry. Feed them, keep them clean, keep them warm, keep them dry, love the ever-loving snot out of them (sometimes by sucking the snot out of them) and everything will turn out okay.

In the aftermath of going from a family of three to a family of four there are some difficulties. I am tired. My husband is tired. But this too shall pass. All too quickly if I’m honest with myself. I keep reminding myself I have my entire life to do other stuff. Snuggle this baby now while she’s a baby. Things just take longer with two kids, no matter what the age difference. Running errands is now more of a walk with a slight limp. Laundry day is more like laundry week. Family dinner is now getting everyone fed within an hour in the same general area of the house.

So here’s where you come into this. How far apart are your kids and how much of a difference was it for you? (Bonus if you have or have had multiples.) If you’re still on one, does the thought of two scare you? Or maybe you’re my friend Emily, steadily having babies every two years until suddenly you’re on the cusp of four.

I’ll be honest, three makes me nervous because A) my husband and I are outnumbered and B) I’d have a middle child C) uneven numbers make me uneasy. Silly right?

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About caseymullins



Casey Mullins is a writer, photographer, and nice person living in Indianapolis with her two little girls, husband, and a one eyed cat. She writes regularly at her personal blog moosh in indy and can be found trolling local bakeries and napping whenever possible. Read bio and latest posts → Read Casey's latest posts →

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24 thoughts on “One Kid to Two, is it Really *that* Different?

  1. Jenny says:

    We are on the steadily having babies every two years plan. We are now debating #4. #3 was a hard adjustment. Getting ready and going places takes much longer now. Luckily #1 is in Kindergarten, we run errands while she is in school. Are we done at #3…No because uneven numbers makes me a little crazy. Silly I know.

  2. Amy Mueller says:

    My girls are 3.5 years apart. I agree…it IS different. Not to mention, my girls are COMPLETE polar opposites. I can now honestly say that I do not feel the need to try for a third child. I want to be the best mom I can be to the two human beings I have already created. It hasn’t been easy. It won’t be easy. But I love it.

  3. Roni says:

    I’m with you. Mine are just 6 years apart. At first it was hard for me to adjust now I’m in the swing. I love that there is such an age difference. It helped my sanity. And the relationship my oldest has is truly of Big Brother.

    And not silly at all! Best quote ever comes from my husband’s friend when talking about having a 3rd child…

    “I don’t do zone defense. Only Man to man.”

    Cracks me up every time!

  4. Candace says:

    With #4 coming on TUESDAY…you could say that I start to hyperventilate if I really think about the logistics of taking care of four human beings. SO…I don’t think about it. I will just do. And roll with it. And snuggle. And I know that I will not shower. Or clean. Or cook. For AWHILE. And I’m okay with that. The GIANT leap from 2 to 3 (which I feel, for me, was HUGE) I think helped me readjust my expectations of “normal.” I know it will be crazy. But I know I won’t feel crazy forever.

  5. tehamy says:

    My boys are almost exactly 2 years apart. Xander was born 9 days before Jack’s 2nd birthday. Two weeks from today, Xander will be a year old, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have done it any other way. When Xander was born, Jack was just independent enough to be easily entertained while I nursed and also still self-absorbed enough to not really realize that I wasn’t spending as much time with him.

    I really feel like there wasn’t much of a difference for us. Sure there’s another person and it took some adapting, but we were still kinda in baby mode. And honestly it helps that my boys are incredibly chill and laid back.

  6. abbeuviolet says:

    Two is, of course, different, but not in the new parent intensity. I am much more chill and two years in they are pretty adapted to it, but still have their moments. I am thinking about three and often find myself wondering where baby three would be in our moments of chaos when two is overwhelming. My guess is that we’d all just adapt again and they would be a bit older and more able to help. Current kids are 2.5 yrs apart in age. Assuming we have three, age difference would now be a minimum of 3 years…. which I hope is fine?

  7. Michelle Smiles says:

    My girls are 22 months apart. With my first, I was an older mom (and my baby was older – she is adopted – so there was no newborn exhaustion and uncertainty). My daughter was my sidekick. I took her every where with no problems. I loved this mom gig and was doing a pretty good job with it most days. Then I found out I was pregnant. Then I spent 6 months on “bed rest” (the quotes because you can’t be on bed rest and be the primary care giver of an 18 month old). So it was hard before I even had my youngest daughter. But when I had her? I was blown away by how hard it was going from 1 to 2. I didn’t know how to do the simplest things. When one started crying and the other stared while I was tending to the first? I ended up crying too. I wasn’t sure how to go to the grocery store. I couldn’t just put my no yet 2 year old down and say “stay” while I got the baby out of the car. And the carts aren’t made for an infant carrier and a toddler so I had to put the carrier in the back of the cart and pile groceries around her. And with differing nap and food schedules I felt like I couldn’t get out of the house because someone always needed something. The first 6 months were a haze. But it got better. They got older. And now they are (mostly) great friends and I’m glad they are so close in age so they can be friends.

  8. Ashley says:

    Almost all of mine are 2 years apart, with one exception of 17 months for the second and third. The doctors say you can’t get pregnant while brestfeeding and on the pill!! So 5 kids later I think it has become a routine to have little people under my feet all day! Going from number 2 to 3 was definitely the most difficult to get used to, but I think I’m used to the chaos now!!

  9. Marta says:

    My kids are 3.5 years apart. I think its a great distance. Ben is super helpful and great with his sister. Yet, they’re not so far apart that I would worry that Ben would be more like a parent than a brother. Which sounds silly but my husband is 5 years older than his sister and has his whole life (and still) tries to parent her. Its annoying for everyone (especially her) :-D

    I can’t wait to have a third, I pretty much walked out of the hospital with my second (having completely forgotten how to take care of a baby and how much work it is apparently) wanting a third. I’d even go for four, but I’ve had a hard enough time convincing my husband to go for three!

  10. Della says:

    My brother and I were 2 1/2 years apart. Mine are 18 months apart. Mom and I thought, “almost the same thing, right?” WRONG!

    You think 18 months is “big kid”, but really they’re still a baby. You can’t tell the 18 month old to go get a diaper and a pack of wipes out of the changing table. Instead of being a help, they’re another baby, who doesn’t understand why you’re not catering to their whim RIGHT NOW. My son (first born) has always been an easy kid, and he was SO laid back, but he was definitely more hindrance than help when my daughter was tiny.

    A year later, looked at him and thought, if I had had THIS kid, the 2 1/2 year old version of him, when I was stuck in the house alone with them every day (my husband had a 2-hours-each-way daily commute for my daughter’s first year)… I think I would have coped a lot better.

    I think it’s better when the baby is tiny and controllable, and harder when they’re both toddlers and able to run the other way or get distracted.

    My daughter turned two today, my son is 3 1/2, and from waking up to getting out the door, we cannot leave the house in under 45 minutes. The 3 year old can put on his own pants and sandals, but is going through an easily-distracted-or-is-it-rebellious stage, and has to be told multiple times (which breaks down to me having to supervise every step, which is SLOWER than just doing it myself. sigh.) The 2 year old can follow simple directions, but can’t find things inside of other things (“Go get a diaper”… goes to changing table, looks blankly…”can’t find it!”…”open the drawer, diapers are inside.” … “oh! there it is!”), can’t put on her own clothes or shoes, and so on. If everyone’s dressed, you STILL have to change diapers/pull-ups before you leave, which means taking clothes off, putting them back on… it’s unavoidable. Then the time spent finding the current/a clean sippy cup (at least now they can drink out of a water bottle in an emergency), verifying the diaper bag is restocked, finding keys that walked off in little grubby fingers after you just set them down RIGHT THERE A SECOND AGO AAAAACK.

    But they enjoy playing with each other. They like the same books and tv shows. They can wear each other’s diapers/pull ups and even most clothes in a pinch. It’s not the end of the world.

    Still…I can not WAIT until they can both dress themselves.

  11. Alison says:

    My girls are 20 days shy of 2 years apart.  I didn’t even consider the difficulty until I was about 8 months pregnant with #2 — it was just the plan.  Then I thought it would be more work, but not twice as much.  Turns out it was more than twice as much work. But totally worth it.

  12. sarah bregel says:

    have one. am equally terrified/wanting another. waiting for the answer to come to me!

  13. Megan M. says:

    I stopped (and tweeted!) as soon as I read about the mom with 2 under two. I did that. And then, I promptly did it again. My boys are my oldest two, and are 18 months apart. Baby girl came a prompt 13 months (and one day) after that. I remember the day I sat down and realized that I was going to have three kids under the age of three in my house before I hosted Thanksgiving dinner.
    I was blessed in that my 18 month old was very mobile, had a pretty expansive vocabulary, and was very focused on my needs. (It was almost kind of creepy, really.) For me, the “big” jump was having baby number two. After that, adding number three… Well, we were already rocking the insane asylum, why not!?
    My crew is now 10, 9 today, and 8 next month, and they’re good friends. And worst enemies. You know, in general, they’re siblings. And while my “plan” had been one every three years, not all three in three years, I’m so glad that God’s idea was what it was, because it’s perfect. At least, until I have to pay for college.

  14. Crystal says:

    My boys are 16 months apart. I love them with my whole heart and soul…but I wouldn’t recommend it. They are 2 and 10 months now, and I will say it has gotten easier as they got older.

    The worst part for me though was being pregnant with a baby. My oldest didn’t start walking until he was 15 months old. That meant I was carrying his chunky butt around when I was 8 months pregnant. Not fun.

  15. Kelly says:

    Omg. I have three. Don’t recommend it. We are so outnumbered, and they totally gang up on us. It’s pitiful sometimes.

    Thank goodness they’re cute.

  16. Zina says:

    If she can’t handle two kids then why is she still shopping at the baby store?

    (Get it? I’m pretending I think a baby store is a place to buy babies.) (Because in real life I’m not sure what a baby store is.)

  17. Jennifer says:

    3 for me, 2 years or less apart, all 4 and under. I’m a stages person. If I never get out of diapers until I’m done having babies, I won’t know how awesome it is. Right? I wanted mine all close in age; you know, for when they are older. It is hard though. My husband and I are exhausted, like falling asleep at dinner tired. Oh, and dinner is whatever can be made in 10 minutes, with 3 or less dishes, that all fit in the dishwasher, because washing bottles every day sucks enough.

  18. Kelsie says:

    My girls are almost 4 years apart (Aug 29th and Sept 4th) and I actually feel much more relaxed with my 2nd. Like you I remember those nights where baby just had to cry to cry, and I remember that I got through it once, I’ll get through it again. Actually my husband is working 12 hour nights with this one so I’m pretty much on my own, he’s gotta sleep in the day and then work through the night, and I’m STILL calmer then I was with my first.

    My 4 year old is also in preschool this year so she’s branching out and being more independent which helps, but is still young enough that she thinks it’s cool to be my “big helper” and grab stuff from the other room for me, or throw the diapers in the garbage.

    We’ve decided to try once more for a boy, and 3 makes me nervous, especially since my husband REALLY wants them closer in age, like a year to a year and a half. Since I’m happy with the 4 year gap, we’ve pretty much compromised on 2 years apart. It’s not more kids that scares me, it’s the thought of having 2 young needy children

  19. Lacey says:

    Feeling the same way! I’m 5 months pregnant with my 2nd, and our oldest is 8!! We are excited about having another baby!! I feel like its most likely going to be like riding a bike! Also having our older son who is a very loving, sensitive kid, and super excited about his baby brother…we have a live-in helper this time!!

  20. Lindsay says:

    I have one, 16 months, trying for another. I am scared. I love being able to focus completely on the boy I have and it’s going to break my heart the first time he realizes that he has to share his parents. It’s hard enough keeping one safe and fed and clean and happy. How are we going to do two at the same time? I keep trying to tell myself that we aren’t the first people to do this, and we will figure it out as we go, just like when we first became parents.

  21. MaryAnne says:

    I have one 5 year old. After a pretty nasty bout of post-partum depression, a divorce, working full time through my son’s entire babyhood and early childhood, and finding out my son had some mild special needs (Asperger’s syndrome and sensory issues), I was pretty sure I was all done having babies. It made me sad, I wanted another one and I still felt like somebody was missing. But I couldn’t imagine going through it all again. And then I met my fiancee. He told me a few months into dating he’d like to have 2 kids. I told him I wasn’t sure I wanted to have 3 and he explained that what he meant was my son plus 1 more. And then I cried. :) He is about 20 different kinds of awesome. I can actually imagine pulling off a second round of parenting with him. So we’re planning on trying for another baby after we get married. But oh my goodness am I terrified. It’s not really the chaos that scares me, I borrow my 2.5 year old nephew often enough to feel like I could probably handle it. I just don’t want a repeat of how unnecessarily hard it was last time.

  22. Jamie (@chosenchaos) says:

    Boys are 20 months apart (5 and 3), then we we had twin girls when the youngest (now middle man) was 30 months old (2.5) Losing man on man coverage is scary but it hasn’t been as bad as I think some moms would like to convince you. I’m good at babies, my husband is good at boys – it works. We knew we wanted 4 (my husband hates odd numbers and 2 wasn’t the plan) Middle-man became the middle almost instantaneously. It was sad, still is sad to his Mama some days. What I’ve discovered is that the sun still rises and sets regardless of what I do about it! You just live it… when people ask me how I do it my honest answer is this… I don’t know, ask me when it’s over and maybe I’ll have time to think about it.

  23. kj says:

    We have a 13.5yr-old son and twin (nearly) 6 yr olds. We did not plan that gap. We had (well, I have) fertility issues. It was hard in the beginning (first 3 years) but now it’s a breeze. Our oldest is a built-in babysitter and the twins play nice together. Bliss. Most of the time.

  24. Jackie says:

    I have a three year old and a nine week old and I’m surprised at how easy it is. This baby is so laid back compared to my first but I think it’s easier because we make a point to get out of the house. The three year old and I would both go crazy if we stayed home all day so we go and take our little sidekick with us.
    I want a third but my husband doesn’t (at least right now). He’s afraid we will be outnumbered and they are expensive. I feel like I’m supposed to have three kids.

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