Last week a friend (who is expecting her second) asked me what it’s like to have two children. There were all sorts of answers that ran through my mind, but I didn’t want to scare the bejeezers out of her. So I said, “It’s amazing, but hectic. A shock to the system at first, but you’ll be fine.” Ahem.
So here is my guide to having one vs two children – and to those of you with more than two, I am in awe of everything you do!
LEAVING THE HOUSE
One child: this can take ages in the early days, but after a few weeks, you’re fairly happy that you’ve nailed it. Child – check. Nappy bag -check. Winning at life!
Two children: Start preparing to get out of the house 45 minutes before you actually need to leave. You’ll manage to get shoes on one of them only to find the other is somehow half-naked. You’ll find yourself engaged in a ridiculous argument about why you can’t wear shorts in winter. And when you finally get them both in a fit state to leave the house, one of them is guaranteed to need a poo.
A TRIP TO THE SHOPS
One child: As a baby, no problem. The pram is your friend and doubles up as a great shopping basket. When they’re walking, you can play fun little games to see who can find the carrots first (note: let the toddler win). You can even let your child give the money to the lady at the till. Oh what a fun, educational experience.
Two children: If you’re anything like me in the early days, then you just won’t go to the shops. Sainsbury’s delivers for a reason, people. If you’re brave and you want to venture out with two children that are walking, then you need a plan. I can’t stress this enough. Snacks and toys are your friend. If your son wants to go to the supermarket dressed as Hulk, then so be it. Choose your battles, stick to the shopping list and familiarise yourself with the exits.
One child: Annoying, but you can generally calm them down . A hug, some gentle distraction and the screaming, crying maniac eventually comes round.
Two children: Either one will set the other one off, or one winds the other up, mid hissy-fit. My tip: divide and conquer. Divert the attention of the non-tantrum-thrower and then attend to the diva. If this doesn’t work and both are rolling all over the floor like slightly deranged small people, then why not join them. Failing that, hide in the bathroom with a chocolate bar. You need your energy in these situations.
TRIPS TO THE BATHROOM (yours, not theirs)
One child: Yes, there’s curiosity, and you will often find yourself with an audience, but there are some points during the day when you can make a trip to the loo alone.
Two children: You will never wee without an audience again. One of the blighters is always there, with some engaging dialogue to enhance your bathroom experience. “Mummy, are you doing a poo? Mummy, why haven’t you got a willy? Mummy, why don’t I be Spiderman and you be the baddie. And when I say ‘gotcha’, you have to run away and hide, ok?” FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, IS NOWHERE SACRED ANY MORE?
One child: Ah, the wonderful time at the end of the day, when your child enjoys a relaxing bubble bath, while you sing songs and play splishy-splashy games together before wrapping your little darling up in a fluffy towel and getting them dressed for bed.
Two children: Carnage. Potentially some shouting. And a very wet bathroom floor.
One child: That time of the day when you can snuggle up with your little one, read stories together, settle them down for the night and slip away quietly as they drift off into a peaceful slumber.
Two children: Requires military planning. May take several tweaks to the bedtime routine to finally crack it. Be prepared to yell, ‘Stay in your bed!’ a lot. And just when you think you’ve cracked it, and sneak off downstairs to enjoy some well-deserved mummy-time (wine), one of the buggers yells out for you and wakes the other one up.
But when all is said-and-done, and the shock of the transition from one-to-two has worn off, it’s actually rather binkin’ wonderful. And I wouldn’t change the crazy tantrum-throwing, bath-splashing, toilet-watching hooligans for the world.