One cannot fully imagine the experience of parenthood until one is in the thick of it. You assume you will love your children, and that you will fear for their health and safety. And you’re sure that, at times, it will be challenging — even downright difficult. But it is not until you hold your child for the first time that the enormity of all it — the love, the fear, the crippling exhaustion — hits you head-on.
It makes sense, therefore, to wonder — whether months, weeks, or hours into your parenting journey — how in the hell do people raise more than one of these at a time? Logistically, how is such a thing possible? Oh god, are parents of twins ok?
When one new parent recently took to Reddit to ask this very question, they were met with the most honest and sincere of answers.
Here is what u/Embarrassed-Sock1460 asked:
How do people manage more than one child?? My wife and I are thinking we will have 3-4 kids. However we have a 3 month old at home and I have NO IDEA how people manage more than just one. Do parents somehow become more efficient with more kids??
Any veteran parent can feel the weight of their stress in all those question marks. But Reddit came to reassure Embarrassed-Sock1460 that it is indeed possible to survive while parenting more than one child. Here’s how:
Your standards drop
The dropping of one’s standards is key when parenting multiple children, as many Redditors were quick to point out:
- “You become ok with everyone’s needs not being met as instantly as when you had one pretty quickly. Turns out they can cry for a few minutes and not die lol.” (u/steeltoesnstilettos)
- “The first child is a precious, fragile little darling to be watched and supervised and tended and worried over 24/7. The second child is rugged and durable, able to survive the older sibling’s attempts to turn him inside out. Big bro tries to see if the leg can be removed by unscrewing it, and baby is absolutely delighted by the attention. First child is carefully swaddled in fragrance free natural fibres, and tenderly watched for the slightest sign of discomfort. Second child gets lightly stained hand-me-downs, and “careful” means not dropped or at least not dropped often. First child is put to sleep in a quiet darkened room with soft music; second child naps on the floor during Barney’s dance party. First child gets a careful and methodical introduction of new foods, complete with food diary of responses; second child eats whatever fell to the floor yesterday. And so forth.” (u/ditchdiggergirl)
- “Man we just fake it till we make it. I have three and really can’t “manage” even one. You just learn that some things aren’t going to go the way you want, try to keep them fed and from hurting themselves or each other, you’ll be alright.” (u/insanealienmonk)
Plus, you get wiser
With parenting experience comes wisdom, and that wisdom is key in parenting multiple children:
- “Subsequent children have their own challenges and there are definitely issues with schedules and quality time with each new addition, but overall, it’s easier because you’ve done it before, you’re older and (hopefully) wiser, and you have learned what things are important and what things are distractions. While we don’t plan to have any more, I could totally knock it out of the park if we had a fifth one.” (u/AgentUpright)
- “We have 7, ages 2 to 17. One thing we learned is to pick your battles. Some things just are not worth the energy to fight over. Two-year-old doesn’t want to get dressed? Fine, wear PJs all day. We also learned that both parents need to present a united front. We don’t let the kids play one parent against the other.” (u/C_Alan)
- “Picking your battles is key! As long as what they are wearing is weather- and play-appropriate; what they eat is reasonably healthy, and they aren’t killing each other, fine. They know what’s non-negotiable.” (u/TheYankunian)
Timing is everything
The fun thing about parenting is that every kid is different, every family dynamic is unique, and everyone has a tendency to think their way is the best way because it worked for them. Which is why it is fun to see commenters recommend the ideal age-spacing of subsequent children:
- “You gotta space them out. The rule is not to have two in diapers at the same time. Otherwise you’re totally fucked.” (u/lehigh_larry)
- “I have two, but I spaced them over four years apart. Two in diapers, Two non-verbal, that’s a nightmare. But when one is in school all day and can get his own snacks/take himself to the bathroom, it’s not that bad.” (u/Frostyarn)
And then watch others adamantly counterpoint:
- “I have exactly the opposite opinion — I’m super happy I was still in the zone with the diapers when #2 arrived. (18 months apart, but adopted so no pregnancies to deal with). If you’re up to your elbows in shit anyway, a little more won’t kill you, and you’re used to it. I think reintroducing the changing table after experiencing freedom would have killed my soul.” (u/ditchdiggergirl)
So while spacing may be everything, you’ll have to follow your own instinct as to the correct spacing for you.
And remember that this too shall pass
One kind Redditor helpfully reminds us that the infant stage, while intense in every possible way, does eventually end:
- “Keep in mind that you’re judging parenting while you’re in the most demanding and exhausting part of it. I have three and they’re all 3-4 years apart. By the time the next one came along, the older ones were wiping their own butts, sleeping through the night and pouring their own cereal. I’m not saying it’s not still difficult or exhausting, but it does get easier in some ways.” (u/bethmcgary7)
In other words: Don’t worry. You’re still adjusting. Maybe it gets easier, or maybe you just get used to it being hard. Either way, eventually it won’t seem so bad.