- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 12, 2005

A new baby surely can enhance a family, bringing a unique joy and pleasure to mom, dad and siblings. It’s also likely, though, that a growing family will experience some growing pains.

Once a second — or third, fourth or more — child enters the portrait, everything becomes a matter of logistics. New autos are chosen for the number of car-seat tethers, and parents find themselves lugging already-full bags of snacks and toys as they head into the mall.

Parents who were able to sneak in a few hours together or enjoy phone calls with friends when they had one tot suddenly don’t have any free time.

Journalist Jennifer Hull, who had mostly written about business issues for the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine, among other publications, turned her attention to parenting when she had her first daughter six years ago. Since having her second daughter, Mrs. Hull has focused her writing on parenting more than one child. The result is “Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life.”

A lot of books ignore the changes children bring to a marriage, Mrs. Hull says, and that was something that particularly interested her. She says she has heard a lot of women talk about the “romance” between a couple when they have their first baby, but that the relationship becomes a “partnership” with two.

“You’re at a crossroads because you can fudge child care issues with one [child] — mom might be able to do it all — but with a second, if dads don’t step up, moms often get resentful. Dads do, though, tend to get more involved with No. 2,” Mrs. Hull says.

One of Mrs. Hull’s hints is for frustrated mothers to articulate what it is they want from fathers instead of sobbing or screaming “I need more help.” She suggests writing complementary to-do lists, one for her and one for him.

Establishing routines also help, she says. For example, Mrs. Hull takes her daughters out every Saturday morning so her husband can sleep, and he does the same on Sundays.

“Routines proved my salvation with the second. Date night does not happen if it’s not scheduled,” she says.

That said, routines are like rules: Sometimes they are made to be broken. Every once in a while, it’s OK to get a baby sitter in the middle of the week or for parents to go out to lunch for no apparent reason.

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