Second Child Survival Tips

By Jennifer Bingham Hull

Most child-rearing advice is for first-timers. But it’s the second baby who rocks the boat.

The career-family clash comes after the second, not the first child. With one kid, a couple can fudge childcare issues. With two, dad either steps up to the plate or mom becomes exhausted. One baby is a charmer at the coffee shop. Two toddlers make you a menace to every adult there. No wonder having two makes one look easy!

Yet there are ways to make the leap from one to two smoother:

*Befriend People in Your Path. It’s hard to maintain a social life with two little kids, especially with other mothers in the same boat. Somebody’s naptime will always sabotage the best-laid plans, making friends from your first play group feel unreachable. Befriend the parent at story time at the library. She’s already there.

*Spend time alone with your firstborn. The parenting guides make you feel so guilty about having a second that you think you've got to take your older child to Disney World. Instead, take your firstborn out alone on errands while someone else watches the baby. She'll love being together, and you'll get to the drycleaners.

*Do not think of having sex in the kitchen. Sex after the second is a feat matched only by getting anywhere on time. It doesn’t happen without determination. It won’t happen if planned over the dinner dishes. This advice, from Vicki Iovine, beats anything from Spock and Sears. How to jump in the sack with that man you’ve barely spoken to for the din? Remember your early party days.

*Compliment your husband’s biceps, and ask him to carry the kids out the door. Men have the muscles for parenting more than one. They also have an instinct for self-preservation that can be valuable to emulate amidst the demands of two small, adorable people. If his earplugs seemed crass with the first’s cries, you may want to borrow them now.

*Prepare for a demotion and a doubling of the opposition forces. The most amusing mom is no match for a brother or sister’s antics. And siblings in cahoots are at least as challenging as sibling rivalry. Can’t find the kids at bedtime? Look for small feet sticking out of the closet.

*Bag the family dinner early on. Feed them in the car. Feed them at the park. Feed them, if you must, in the bath. But don’t expect the dinner table to unify the family for a while. In the food-throwing years, some mothers have been known to consider killing their families over dinner.

*Shop for yourself, not your new addition. The second child doesn’t know the difference between hand-me-downs and his thumb. There may, however, be a direct correlation between the state of a woman’s underwear and her self-esteem. Boost the later by purchasing a bra that fits. And treat yourself to Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life.


(c) 2010 Jennifer Bingham Hull. Reprint rights granted as long as the article is published in its entirety, including the resource box and its live links.

About the Author

Jennifer Bingham Hull is an award-winning author and mother of two. Her book, Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life, looks at life after the second child. To learn more, visit, where you can contact her to receive this Parenting Tips column and sign up for her free newsletter.

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