the second time around
Should you have baby No. 2 sooner or later?
“All of a sudden her bedtime rituals were interrupted, and she was put off her routine.” While Peterson was disappointed by the rocky start, she says her girls, now ages 51¼2 and 2, have a good relationship. “The 2-year-old worships her sister and wants to do everything she does, and the older one likes that,” she says.
Too close for comfort?
What is it like to parent two children under the age of 3? For many families, in a word: chaotic. “I’m so frazzled by the end of the day,” says Tammy Bowman of Tampa, Fla., who says the hardest thing has been trying to constantly entertain 2-year-old Ariana and 9-week-old Athena. “One-on-one time is at a minimum, so I try multi-tasking: putting Athena in the baby carrier so I can cook dinner while feeding Ari in her highchair. It’s one big merry-go-round until I get Ari to bed.”
Just being pregnant when you have a toddler at home is more challenging, too. Valerie Gallagher of Cary, N.C., whose children are 15 months apart, recalls the difficulty of being pregnant with her daughter, Katherine, while caring for her son, Aidan. “The bigger I got at the end, and the more tired, the more work Brian, my husband, had to do. Aidan was still needy, and it was hard for me to pick him up—I just didn’t have the energy.”
In the end, Gallagher feels that because her children are so close in age, they’re more likely to play together and have a good relationship. Also, she says, “Aidan’s not really old enough to have been jealous, and he’ll never remember a time when it was just him and us.”
Ultimately, choosing when to have another child is a decision that only you and your partner can make. One thing is certain, though: Whenever that new little one arrives, he or she is sure to bring chaos, joy and, yes, plenty of sleepless nights back into your lives.
[Making the second-child decision]
For some couples, the decision isn’t just about when to have a second child but if. Here are some considerations to discuss with your partner before taking the plunge into diapers again.
>>Envision your ideal family. What kind of home atmosphere do you want? Calm and serene? Busy and bustling? Consider how a second child fits into that picture.
>>Consider your resources. There’s no question that having another child will alter your family dynamics and stress level. A couple needs strategies for handling these issues before having a second baby, says Barry G. Ginsberg, Ph.D., director of the Center of Relationship Enhancement in Doylestown, Pa. Ask yourselves: Do you have the physical and emotional energy necessary to care for two children?