The following is a guest post written by our friend, and fellow parent, David Jacobson.
My wife and I have two children, ages 2 & 3½ - as you can likely tell, we’ve grown accustomed to doing things fast. We pulled off a massive wedding 4 months after getting engaged, got pregnant a month later, and our first baby was born 9 months after that. A lot of change in a short period of time, no doubt – and not something many people would do.
But you know what’d be REALLY crazy? Have baby #2 just 17 months after the first.
Yep, that’s exactly what we did. Thinking at the time we might eventually want 3 kids, we settled upon what we called the “ripping the Band-Aid off” theory: a well-intentioned effort to get the baby phase of our lives over and done with as quickly as possible. Yet as with any theory, while one can certainly hope for the best, the reality may be a different story entirely.
It’s been brutal.
Nothing could have prepared us for what having two babies under age 2 would do to us. Just about the time most first-time parents are starting to see the faintest glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, we went ahead and added more tunnel. For those with just one baby or toddler in the house, let me try and paint you a picture of what having TWO is like:
Sleep – Before you have kids, sleep is something you take for granted as a relatively predictable and natural part of your existence. When you have one baby, it is something you lose, but slowly regain as they learn to sleep through the night. When our baby #2 arrived, however, baby #1 was only 17 months old, and was still waking up throughout the night – so no, we didn’t get to enjoy any full nights of sleep before the 2nd one arrived. It’s insane – you’re waking up 3, 4, 20 times over the course of a night/morning, each violent intrusion into your brief slumber more devastating than the previous one. If it’s not one of the kids, it’s the other – and, you’re fighting a constant half-asleep battle to keep Kid #1 from waking up Kid #2, and being TOTALLY screwed (they’re still waking up 1-3 times a night, by the way – so no, we haven’t enjoyed a full night’s sleep since before having kids).
Diapers – Think you’re changing a lot now? Try having 2 kids in diapers/pull-ups, and you’ll wish you’d never been born. It does not end, and it never gets any easier – you’re the parent, meaning you’ve got to dive right in, however many times a day, every day. The diaper genie is always, always full, and it stinks – like, literally stinks. You’re also spending a small fortune on diapers & wipes every month, and can’t ever leave home without a healthy supply of each.
Going Places – Speaking of travel, now that there’s 2 kids, you need to stock up on 2 different-sized diapers, 2 sippy cups, 2 sets of backup clothes and twice as many snacks - all jammed into your double stroller, which just screams “cool.” Simply getting out of the house now takes twice as long as it used to, as you struggle to get two tantrum throwers fed, diapered, dressed and sunscreened. It’ll take you about 5 hours to just to get outside, and once you’re finally there, one or both MAY fall asleep – but it’s a crapshoot, and the odds are with the house.
Arguing – Having two small children in the house means having two sets of needs, wants and preferences. The TV is on? They each want to watch something different, so one’s going to be screaming and crying no matter what you do. Toys out on the floor? Chances are they’re going to want to play with whatever the other one’s currently playing with. Meal being served? They will fight over who gets which plate, utensil, serving, and individual piece of food. It’s basically a full-blown, shriek-filled war until they go to bed. Speaking of which….
Bedtime – Disaster. Our kids share a room, and when the younger one was confined to a crib, it was easy: he goes in, cries for a little bit, and eventually falls asleep – upon which we bring the older one in and tuck her into her bed. But now that they’re BOTH in beds? Forget it - too much fun & exciting to play, wander around the room, go adventuring OUTSIDE of their room – anything but sleep. This means we have to close the door, which they do NOT want: screaming, crying, total meltdowns. What once took about 20 minutes now stretches out hours, and we’re lucky if we can get all of the nonsense to end before 9 or 10pm every night.
Now, it’s not my intention to share this with you in order to scare you from ever having more babies – they’re truly great, wonderful, brilliant kids, both insanely cute, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. However, if there’s anything to be learned from our experience, it’s to perhaps consider waiting a LITTLE longer in between babies. Being so close in age makes it really, really tough, and I think it’d be way easier if one of them was just a LITTLE bit older, a LITTLE more mature, a LITTLE more self-sufficient.
In the grand scheme of things, this period is just a blink of the eye. We’ll be through it soon enough, and in time, we’ll probably be able to look back at this experience and laugh.
Either that, or we’ll just laugh at other couples with two babies.
David Jacobson is the founder of TrivWorks™, a NYC corporate entertainment and team building company based in Brooklyn. Prior to having kids, he used to enjoy sleeping, free time, and being in shape.