Melissa Rycroft: Why Two Kids Is an ‘Emotionally’ Hard Adjustment
Melissa Rycroft‘s days on the dance floor are finally paying off.
“I used to have all of this free time even with my one child, I have one more and I don’t sit down anymore, so it’s crazy,” Rycroft, 31, told PEOPLE before she headed off to host the Smirnoff Ice “Ladies with Game” Tailgate Party on Oct. 2.
“On one hand, I’m used to the fact that it takes me 30 minutes to get out of the house. I’ve got that down, and I know that if I want to just up and get my nails done, I can’t.”
While the working mom first learned that parenting lesson after she welcomed Ava in 2011, juggling two children has its new set of challenges.
“It does feel like I don’t have enough arms. I don’t have enough hands,” she jokes. “I’m constantly just doing laundry or dishes or washing bottles or changing diapers, and I just go, ‘Where did the day go?’ ”
The time crunch paired with the demands of a newborn have made the balancing act of motherhood tricky for Rycroft, who admits the “hardest thing for me emotionally” has been dividing her attention between two kids.
“I feel like I just can’t give my daughter 100 percent anymore,” she explains. “She’s getting everything that she wants — everything that she needs — but there are times when I’m feeding the baby and she’ll come in and go, ‘Mom, come play with me,’ and I can’t.”
Adds Rycroft, “It’s hard juggling and trying to give both of them all of the attention that they want and all of the attention that they need.”
Luckily, Rycroft doesn’t have to juggle alone: Her husband Tye Strickland is a very hands-on dad.
“I got lucky in the daddy department. Very, very lucky,” she says. “He’s a big help and if it’s one of those nights that I’ve done my duty, he’ll wake up with him at six in the morning and take morning duty and let me get an hour or two extra sleep.”
She adds with a laugh, “We have found our nice little balance that way, just to keep everybody sane.”
But the couple also have a little helper: Their “awesome” daughter has happily stepped into her new role as big sister.
“I’m really lucky that she has been wonderful. Since the moment we brought him home, she’s been such a help,” shares Rycroft. “Maybe because their age difference — they are three years apart — [or] one’s a boy, one’s a girl so there’s no competition or [maybe] she’s just a sweet little thing.”
And Rycroft has even more reasons to be a proud mommy; Ava’s latest milestones include singing her ABC’s and counting in Spanish.
“Ava’s just this little sponge. She’s at the age where she comes home every day doing something new … it baffles me the things that she’s picking up on and that she knows,” says Rycroft.
As for Beckett, “he’s a little rolling machine, he’s sitting up on his own now.”
And Rycroft has hit a major milestone of her own: shedding her pregnancy pounds!
Although she didn’t “gain as much weight” while pregnant with her baby boy, that didn’t make things easier when it came to bouncing back physically, says Rycroft, who had to work harder the second time around, including exercising every day and eating really clean.
“The weight didn’t just fall off like it did with Ava, and I was getting down on myself, going, ‘I don’t understand why I can’t fit back into my pants,’ ” she explains.
Although she was only one month postpartum at the time — and understands “it was so unrealistic” — Rycroft was ready to regain her pre-baby body.
“Any woman knows once you’ve been 20-plus pounds heavier, all you want to do is just lose it,” she explains. “I had to work much harder this time.”
But despite all the hard work — and depending on the day you ask — Rycroft isn’t ruling out expanding her family further in the future.
“If you ask me on a good day, I’ll have eight [kids]. If you ask me after a day where we have been up all night long [with] a screaming baby, I’m like, ‘We’re done, we’re never doing this again,’ ” she jokes.
“So I don’t know. I don’t necessarily feel like we’re done, but you never know what’s in your cards so we just play that one by ear.”
— Mariah Haas