If you were to poll a group of moms about what the toughest transition was for their family, I'm confident each women would give a different answer, or at least a different reasoning for their answer. Some find having their first baby to be the hardest, others struggle going from 1 to 2 kids, while still others maintain that having their third truly threw them for a loop. I think so much of this depends on your stage of life, the ages of your kids, and the temperament of each baby.
Personally, I found the transition from 1 child to 2 to be the most trying. Looking back at that time in my life, it's really not surprising. We moved across the country when I was 36 weeks pregnant with #2, and consequently began new jobs and adjusted to a new home. I didn't realize it at the time, but Teddy, our second child, was a difficult baby. He was rarely happy to be set down in a bouncy chair, and preferred to be held all. the. time. Meanwhile, I was adjusting to a different work schedule, and struggled to balance all of the changes going on in my life.
adding a third
When we finally felt like the fog had lifted and Teddy grew into a happy-go-lucky toddler, we started talking about what having a third child would be like. Our house and life already felt chaotic, so we saw no reason why adding one more would drown us! Our kids were still in diapers, and we hadn't even put away the bottles.
During the pregnancy I prayed for many things - that our third child would be a good sleeper, a calm soul, and a happy, healthy baby. God truly listened to my prayers, and gave us an absolute dream boat of a baby! Lewis has been the most easygoing of our babies. He happily sits in his bouncy chair in the midst of the anarchy that is a toddler and a preschooler "playing" together. He dodges the Legos Teddy throws with a smile on his face, and takes he aggressive hugs and snuggles Pippa gives like a champ. HIs laugh comes easily and often.
Of course it's not always sunshine and roses. There are moments when I'm feeding Lewis and I hear "Uh oh," coming from another room. Or Teddy hurls a toy at Pippa's head. Or someone needs my help and I can't give it to them. Those moments are certainly frustrating.
Anytime I have to load all three kids into their carseats in the Florida heat is draining, and I all but make a pros and cons list to decide if leaving the house is worth it. Pro: we will have food to eat this week. Con: I'll have to load three kids into carseats. Looks like we're eating the one egg and leftover pasta in the fridge!
Finally, I think the biggest struggle has been the lack of free time for both Justin and me. One of the kids is almost always awake, and in need of assistance. When the older two are finally asleep, Lewis might be cluster feeding. If Lewis finally sleeps in one morning, Pippa is up at the crack of dawn. Finding time to have a devotion, write on the blog, or do anything that requires concentration has been tricky. Showering must be done at night, and working out is a group activity.
Somehow, none of these "struggles" has overwhelmed me the way I was overwhelmed when we added a second child. I think there are a few reasons for this:
1. When you have one child, you can have your spouse watch them while you get alone time. When you're solo parenting, you can still count on your child's nap time to get things done or simply enjoy alone time. When you add a second, someone always needs you, you're struggling to synchronize sleep schedules, and you feel guilty all the time about not giving anyone or anything your full attention. It doesn't feel like the work doubles...it feels like 10x the amount of work! When you add a third, you're already used to having zero alone time.
2. I come from a large family. Many of my friends have larger families with three, four, or five kids. Two still felt like a small family, and I expected myself to handle it with ease. I didn't think I had a right to complain, or say it was hard. When I couldn't keep it all together, I felt like I was failing, and I felt like moms of bigger families were judging the fact that I couldn't handle 2 kids. Looking back now, this is so ludicrous. Moms of bigger families don't have time to notice how I'm handling the transition, and if they do, they're probably relating so hard to the struggle, because they have been there.
My expectations are different this time around, in that they are waaaaay lower. I expected to be exhausted and overwhelmed. I expected our house to be a mess. I expected that one kid would always be crying. This time, I didn't beat myself up over it - I just accepted it. In moments when I felt like I had it together, it felt like a victory to enjoy for a brief moment.
This time around, I'm much more laid back. I know to ask for help from my husband instead of letting my pride get in the way or expecting him to read my mind. I'm not only accepting the insanity of our life right now - I'm embracing it! I'm trying to savor the crazy instead of fixing it.
So that's our life right now! If you're wondering how we've been adjusting the last few months, there it is. If you're looking forward to adding a second or third to your family, keep your standards low and your stack of diapers and burp cloths high.
What was your toughest transition?