Second Child: The Straw That Breaks The Working Mom's Back?


by Paige DeLacey


Is having a second child the straw that breaks the working moms back?

First, the facts -- according to the US Census Bureau: 63% of women with college degrees and infants are in the workforce today. And the average number of children American women have is 2.

These statistics suggest that millions of women face the challenge of
figuring out how to be a working mom AGAIN and AGAIN.


Many women report having just figured out how to juggle being a
working mom about a year or two after having their first child.
You've got your childcare managed pretty well, you're back in your
groove at work, albeit a different groove than before baby, but you're
feeling relatively under control.


Then, according to US Census Bureau statistics, about 60% of first
time moms, have baby #2.

The birth rate for women ages 35-44 is at it's highest level in 30
years. That fact, coupled with the fact that women are more educated
than ever means that we're focused on our careers. Subsequently,
women face the "ticking biological clock" that forces them to compress
their childbearing into a few years that often overlap with critical
career development years.

Many women have said that having the second child is when balancing
work and parenting becomes overwhelming. So what should a working mom think about before baby #2 (or 3 or 4)?

Do A Childcare Check In. Evaluate your current childcare situation and determine if it will work for 2 kids. Besides the increased cost of childcare, many mothers find that getting 2 kids and themselves out of the house to daycare is nearly impossible, and opt for a nanny or other
arrangement. Talk to as many people as possible with 2 children and
find out how they manage (or don't manage).



Is Your Work Schedule Working? For many working moms, flexible and/or alternative work schedules are not an option or are of no interest. But for some, they may be just what it takes to temporarily or permanently keep your tired head above water. If there is ever a time to ask for a longer maternity leave, reduced schedule, flexible work arrangement, or to consider becoming a freelancer, consultant or entrepeneur, this is it. As we know, women's careers sometimes take a detour after having children. Having flexibility and being able to control your time is critical for women at this stage in their lives. Check out the articles in "Work Your Way" for a comprehenisve discussion of the various options and how to make them work.




When my first child was 6 weeks old I went back to work (I am a teacher) and found a routine that worked for me. My wonderful husband was very helpful and we really made it work. Then when #1 was 2 we had child #2. Wow, our perfect system was no more and we were paying more than our mortgage in childcare every month. I went back to work with an 8 week old baby this time and pumping three times a day in a closet in the library. I made it nine weeks and threw in the towel. I am going back this fall, because I feel like just because I fell off the bike this spring doesn't mean I shouldn't try to get back on and do what I love. I know we can make this work we just need to try it a different way so we are moving back to our home town despite the economy and current housing market to get more support around us before we try this again. I just want to say don't give up. You may need to stop and regroup but that doesn't mean you have to leave something you love forever. :)


Have two or have ten, you are completely out numbered when number two shows up! The number one child demands equal time when you are interacting with the baby and also alone time like "before the baby came...remember mommy" oh yeah, I remember! Or a least I try to...some days are a real chanllenge start to finish...and then number one starts to play with and help with number two and they are so cute you think about number three...and your husband says oh h*** no!


First I have a disclaimer: I have only one child. Before you skip my post, I think I have fallen upon something amazing. Up until January my DH and I thought we were equally splitting the workload of co-parenting because, basically, we swapped diaper changes and shared house cleaning. Still I was the only one getting up at night. I was the only one getting my son ready every morning. Plus all the cooking, daycare decisions (we have several scary stories), financial upkeep, family health (read: every sick day), DH’s career decisions, interpersonal connections, outreach, not to mention my own career managing three counties and two offices; everything else our lives required was my sole responsibility! Needless to say it was literally killing me.

Then we made one change that has helped everything. My husband is in charge of our son's daycare. This meant we changed daycare in January (a sad good bye to a hand-picked, bilingual Montessori pre-school near my work and our home) to a traditional daycare he found three blocks from his work. My son commutes with daddy everyday on the bus and the train, with delight I might add, while I catch an hour of silent, peaceful rest. DH wakes our son, dresses and bathes him when necessary, and makes his after-school treat (for the commute home). DH monitor's the care providers behavior and little emergencies. Much to our surprise, DH resolves problems with daycare providers much faster than I ever did - the women have more respect for him. He has mentioned on several occasions that commuting with Elijah makes the commute fun! DH says that not a day goes by that someone doesn't compliment him for his amazing parenting - a bit of a leap for a man with one kid on a train, I think. One woman even told him that he and Elijah were her inspiration. Sometimes fellow commuters even pay their fare! Elijah is gaining a lot from the bonding time. He is better behaved for DH than he ever was for me in the morning.

The way is made easier for DH because he is doing something unexpected. I still handle _everything_ else in our lives including positioning my husband for a big promotion and preparing the family to buy a new house, but I think we have balanced the daily STRESS level in our parenting partnership and that has made all the difference. We will see what we negotiate for #2.


We are struggling with the nanny v day care issue right now. We weren't happy with our day care center, we were paying them the equivalent of a really hefty mortgage payment every month for 3 of our children to attend (ages 1, 3 and 4), new owners came in, raised the rates, the caregivers turned over quickly, they took our vacation time away, and so on. Combined with the daily stress of getting the kids out of the house, racing around to pick them up on time, coming home and throwing together dinner before bath and bed... a nanny is sounding more and more feasible to us! We have a young family member who is currently watching the kids while we figure out the situation, and she's great with them, but I think ultimately too young to handle them on her own for longer than a few hours a day. I've spoken with my supervisor about shortening my office hours and working those hours from home so that we can hire an older, more experienced family friend and former caregiver at the kids' former day care to care for the children on a nearly full-time basis, so we can spend more time with them and less time stressing and running around! I think I've convinced myself, and dh at this point that it's our only realistic option, the day cares around here are so packed full (18 kids per class!!!) and waiting lists are the norm for the better centers, plus the costs will actually be a little less for the nanny!


Well, first off, I think it should be "breaks" instead of "brakes". Second off, I agree with most of the suggestions in the article. I have a 5-year-old and a 9-month-old, and although I don't have quite the daycare struggles, bedtime struggles, etc. of those with kids closer together, be forewarned that the renegotiating with the partner still applies, sibling issues are very different, and there's no "napping while the baby naps" on weekends or much of any other time!


I feel your pain. I can tell you it does get easier as they get a little older. hang in there


I went back to work after each of my kids were born, but several months into balancing a job and 2 under 2, I quit. I sometimes regret it, and mostly regret how hard it is "onramping", but I find a lot of comfort in knowing how many other women chose not to pressure themselves and their families through it if they didn't absolutely have to. My sister is a financial consultant, and we both have many women friends with high end careers, but we've both noticed a prominent trend - second baby often brings an end to it. I wish I had the solution to the "I want two or three kids, and my old career back" problem. And I know "just work harder" doesn't seem to make it happen this time.


I am sorry to say that even with my relatively flexible job (I'm a professor), it is indeed the second child that is breaking me. Getting two kids out to daycare in the morning and getting myself ready too is incredibly challenging. But that at least is predictable and can be planned. For me its the two kids waking up in the night, two kids getting sick and sent home (in different weeks of course) that you have to drop everything for, two kids bed time routines that seems, at times, impossible - its just double everything. That includes the joy, but sometimes when you haven't slept in four days and each kid wants a different breakfast and you have 10 minutes before you absolutely have to be out of the house its hard to appreciate that double joy.

I think this article is right on about the reality of having two kids and has great suggestions. My situation has flexibility in some ways, not in others (can't afford and don't really want a nanny), but it is something to consider. It might help with the sickness issue (no one ever warned me about that!). But negotiating with your partner is crucial - and hard. But you absolutely need to do it.