Family Life


4 min Read

Are You Ready To Balance a Second Child?

mother and father on the floor with their daughter

Having one kid is great, but do you have thoughts of a second? A sibling for your firstborn. Maybe a second would perfectly round out your family unit.  Adding a second child into the mix more than doubles the workload and the jump to two kids is the most trying, so be prepared for some startling changes to your life. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Read on for some tips as you consider the leap.

Two kids are a balancing act

Richard Wutzke, a financial planner, remembers the shock when his second son arrived and how much it helps to organize time. “When you have the first child, you’re rookie parents so of course, you think it’s hard,” he says. “After the second came, I discovered that having one was a breeze! Having two is like having four; it’s an exponential growth in work.”

Take a peek at your finances

Kids are expensive. Estimates of the cost of raising a child vary ($12,000+ a year is a rule of thumb), but having a second involves more than doubling the bills. “For starters,” says Ann Douglas, who is a mom of four, a parenting consultant, and author of Family Finance: The Essential Guide for Parents, “you have to think whether the second baby is going to be the last one or if there will be more.”

Some Things to Consider:

•    Investing in a new vehicle or a bigger house
•    Setting up education savings plans and insurance policies
•    The high cost of child care
•    If both parents should work to accommodate the costs
•    Most working moms return to their full-time jobs after the first child, while more than half switch to part-time or take leaves of absence after the second.

Second Child Savings:

•    You can re-use clothes, furniture and other gear from the first one
•    You have more knowledge on how to shop economically
•    The nanny option starts to look affordable.

Say goodbye to routine

When there are two children they become the focus and their parents’ lives adapt to them. Parents with two kids need to accept that chaos will start creeping into their lives.
“In most ways I loved the way life changed with our second,” says Michael Valihora, a Toronto lawyer and dad to two kids. “It felt more like a family, as opposed to the two of us with an accessory baby.” However, there have been sacrifices. He and his wife both enjoyed sports, but those activities almost disappeared. Also, when the second baby arrived, his wife became less available to him and their daughter, bringing father and daughter much closer.

For Valihora, the joys of the second child exceed the sacrifices. “It’s a lot of time, effort and stress, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not really that big a deal.”

Some good reasons to have two

You’ve looked at the important facts, but let’s unpack the fun. Having a second gives your only-child a sibling and expands your family. Still, one piece of advice for eager parents: Savour the time you have now, you won’t have it again for a while!

Make sure you’re ready for it

Before you venture into expansion make sure your ready:

•    Check to see if your families are ready to help.
•    Make sure your both anticipate the amount of work and time this involves.
•    Prepare for the unexpected. You may find yourself with triplets, and older parents need to consider the risks of children born with disabilities.
•    Find out about every free or almost-free resource in your community that can help you economically, from playgroups to children’s second-hand shops.

Originally published in March 2008.

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