Whether you're on your first child or your fifth, I’m sure many of you can relate to the mix of joy and fear that expanding to your family can bring. Here, our parenting expert and mom of three, Katie Bugbee, writes an open letter to the Duchess of Cambridge (and all of you) to calm any concerns.
Dear Duchess of Cambridge aka Princess Kate,
I should start by congratulating you on your impending arrival. While your pregnancies look gorgeous and seamless, none ever is. And you have the early hospital reports to prove it. But Prince George will have a sibling, and as parents, that is often one of the main goals when venturing to have the second. He’ll have someone to go through this royal life with -- to roll his eyes when you, the Queen, publicly mispronounce his favorite video game; to OMG with when Dad meets Beyonce; to lol-text when more wild pics of Uncle Harry are exposed. More importantly, he has someone to go through this wild royal life together, to stand up for him, to be his best friend – and yes, sometimes, his worst enemy.
My first two children are 23 months apart. Boy, then girl. And in the moments when they play together without one yelling at, hitting or whining about the other, they are the perfect embodiment of why people have two kids. My daughter is always looking out for her brother. When we grocery shop, she picks out his favorite foods. When we get stickers at the doctor’s office, she says “can I have one for my broffer?” She cuddles with him, will do anything to make him laugh and is the Cher to his Sonny on the karaoke machine.
And he tolerates her, for the most part. Actually, he adores being on the pedestal she’s placed him on. He’s a classic first-born.
But if you are like me -- and because you are a glamourous public figure named Kate, I clearly think we are exactly alike -- you are nervous about what two kids might mean for your current family. How will you handle two, when you are still getting used to one? How will your marriage weather those cranky sleepless nights (again)? How will you ever find time for yourself? And will your first prince suffer now that he has to share your love?
I’m here to tell you – and all of you having seconds -- that it will all be okay. Here’s why:
- Going from 0-1 is the hardest transition of all. You’ve been there done that. You know each phase gets better, and you know you’re stronger for it all. Sure, you’ll have to find ways to entertain both, but you’d be surprised at how “easy” the baby seems – and how much you can just leave him/her asleep while you play with the first. This is your second baby’s first taste of what I call “independence via isolation,” and it’ll only benefit him/her in the end!
- Your heart actually grows. Right now, you’re probably fretting that this baby could not possibly be loved as much as your first. But I’m here to tell you -- your heart actually doubles in size. Clearly, my lack of a medical degree makes this true. But you know the whole “favorite child” thing? From the moment #2 is born, there is no favorite. Sure, one might annoy you less at certain moments – and one might warrant more respect -- but your heart is forever split right down the middle for these two. So even if the grandparents (and the rest of the United Kingdom) forever fuss over the heir apparent, your love for these two will always be the same.
- You’re already in the weeds. The best thing about having two under two? Life is still so chaotic, you might as well keep it coming. The hardest part about having kids three or more years apart is that you actually saw the light at the end of the hard-a$$ tunnel you’re digging. And it looked so bright (you saw freedom and ease, OMG!). But then you go back to the beginning all over again, and it feels like total torture. But since George isn’t even two, you’re probably not sleeping soundly every night, you’re probably still changing diapers and working around nap schedules. So just keep it going. It will all be over soon enough, and when it is, you’ll actually feel like it only lasted a minute. > Get more tips on transitioning your toddler to a new baby
- You have great hired help, use this wisely. And by wisely, I mean, have your nanny watch the baby so you can have 1-1 time with your oldest again. Ask people to make dinner and do the laundry, so you can really rest. Hire a night nurse. No need to be a martyr here. You’re a princess, use some royal powers and get some help. (The same goes for all you commoners. Remember #PrincessesAreJustLikeUs)
- Having one baby will seem like the easiest thing ever. Nursing in public? No bigs. Now, you’ll probably be seen nursing the baby while pushing George on a swing. It’s sorta insane how much you realize you can do once you have your first baby – and you’ll just keep surprising yourself. Soon, taking two to the grocery store (I’m assuming you pick your own produce, Princess?!) is the chore, but it’s no big deal to take one. It’s all retrospect, and your pre-2 life will suddenly seem so simple.
- This is your chance to train your first to be more independent. So here’s the one thing I didn’t do. I still made such a fuss over my first when his sister was born, fearing he might blame her for feeling a dip in devotion, that he is now an attention-seeking, people-needing (yet amazing!) 6-year old. He hates being alone, while his sister will play independently for hours. It’s a classic first-world/first-child issue that you might be able to break early. Give your first “jobs” to do around the house. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes for him to play alone. And his creativity, autonomy and self-discipline will be better for it.
Princess or not, if you are reading this and will soon be having a baby, I wish you a huge congratulations. I now have three children, and venturing to have my second was the hardest, emotionally. Just remember that you are probably giving your child one of the best gifts they never knew they wanted.
I hope these tips help, and I encourage all readers to share any tips you’ve learned while growing your family.