“Let’s go to the playground”, I tell my four year old and my 20 month old. They both yell: “yaaaaaay”, with excitement.
We start getting ready and my youngest insists on wearing her sister’s shoes. They are so big it’s just not safe to use them at the playground. I try to convince her to wear another pair of shoes and it ends with my toddler having a complete melt-down.
When I had my first baby, it felt hard at first. I wasn’t sure how to be a mom and I was researching a lot about the “right” way to raise my kid. Eventually I figured things out and we got into a nice groove. My first born, Cookie, was a little stubborn but nothing I couldn’t handle. I even remember thinking her tantrums were really manageable and I was able to calm her down quickly.
Then came baby #2, let’s call her Jelly. Having Jelly was easy, I knew what to expect from a baby and I felt confident in my parenting skills.
Then Jelly started crawling and ever since has been trying to keep up with her sister. The problem with this is that Jelly is trying to do things that she might not be entirely ready to do just because she mimics her big sister.
In my experience, I have found it is totally true that the second child learns how to do everything much faster because they have an older sibling to show them. My girls are two years apart which means now my youngest is at the right age where she can do most of the things my oldest is doing but she’s still too young to understand when something might be dangerous, like trying to climb the highest structure at the playground.
Raising my second toddler feels a lot more challenging than when I just had one child. I am not sure if it’s because I have to 2 kids to watch over now or if it’s because Jelly is stubborn, knows what she wants and insists on following her sister everywhere and doing everything she does.
“Watching like a hawk” has a whole new meaning for me now. I feel like my senses are all heightened and I’m literally chasing my toddler all day. Letting her walk in a store is something I rarely let her do because I am scared about her running off. Luckily I can still babywear her!
When we go to the playground I see some moms sitting on a bench and getting a break. I am nowhere close to being able to do that and sometimes I really just want to sit down and rest. Instead I am chasing my fearless, adventurous toddler and making sure she stays safe.
It was so easy to keep my oldest away from things I didn’t want her to do. For example, Cookie tried chocolate for the first time when she was two, meanwhile Jelly is not even two and has already had chocolate, ice cream and cake. Sigh!
Cookie is now forward facing in her car seat and Jelly cries every time we have to get in the car, because like her sister, she wants to forward face. We switched Cookie’s car seat when she turned four and I’m having my doubts we will be able to keep Jelly rear facing until she’s 4.
Jelly tries to get into everything and because her sister showed her she can push a hair to reach things that are up high, I cannot leave her out of sight, even when we’re at home. She refuses to sit on the toddler swing because her sister sits on the kid swing. She even learned how to walk a lot sooner than her sister, which means, we’ve been watching her like a hawk for a while now.
There are some things I don’t fight and just realize my youngest will experience them sooner than my oldest eve did, but there are other things, like the car seat, that are non-negotiable so I just end up dealing with a mad toddler because she can’t have her way.
Is it hard at times? Yes, but when she gives me one her huge smiles I completely melt and it makes it all worth it.
Raising two kids close in age is tiring and is challenging but it is also one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. There’s nothing like being tackled by two little humans that want hugs and kisses, there’s nothing like seeing siblings playing together…
Would I have waited a few more years before having a second child had I know it would be so challenging at times? No, our family feels perfect the way it is. When I wake up every morning with my girls next to me and get told it’s time for a “family hug” I know in my heart we did the right thing.
The hard moments don’t ever outweigh the amazing ones and I know one day I’m going to miss chasing my crazy toddler around, I’m going to miss her babbling, her peek-a-boo games, her adventurous spirit, her little dancing when she gets so excited, I’m going to miss her being little.
If anything, I wish I could make the world stop, make time slow down and savor more each moment with my little girls.