Finding out you’re expecting your first child is a feeling like no other. From the second you see the blue line on the pregnancy test, you start planning – I was saving for Baby No 1’s piano lessons before my morning sickness had subsided. By the time he was born, little HG had a state-of-the-art travel system, the poshest cot this side of Kensington Palace, and every sleep aid you could imagine (not that any of them worked, of course).
When we found out Baby No 2 was on her way we were equally as delighted. But with a toddler to take care of, the planning wasn’t so exciting or animated. More another task to tackle before bath and bedtime. And when she arrived we were, again, ecstatic. But after the initial burst of baby pics on Facebook, Baby B certainly wasn’t shared with every online acquaintance. Facebook documented my first child’s every move, bowel movements included. No 2 is lucky if she gets a mention on her birthday.
Think I’m mean? Think I’m lazy? I’m not alone. Parents all over the country shift into idle mode when it comes to rearing Child No 2. Here’s how:
Baby No 1: From baby name books to My First Year, you invest every spare penny and moment of pregnancy researching how to be a fantastic mum.
Baby No 2: You think, ‘well No 1 is still alive so I must be doing something right’.
No 1: Announce the birth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, in the local paper, across every media channel you can think of, and then update your audience the next day, and the next, and the next.
No 2: Post a pic of the adoring older child trying not to drop its new Nemesis, then try to get some sleep. Post another pic when Baby turns one.
No 1: Sterilise everything religiously and wash all clothes before they wear them. Wash your hands so frequently they start to blister.
No 2: Leave to crawl across dirty floors while you frantically tidy up potential choking hazards. Dress them in anything that isn’t soaked in vomit/faeces (usually slightly stained hand-me-downs from No 1 child - see Point 7).
No 1: Wean on purely organic food cooked-from-scratch by your own fair hands.
No 2: Wean on the bread crusts that No 1 won’t eat. Adopt an eat it or starve approach to mealtimes.
5. Grape Safety
No 1: Peel, quarter and examine for minuscule remnants of seeds, every grape that appears within a five mile radius.
No 2: Slice grapes in half, or just don’t bother feeding them grapes until they’re about 15.
6. Toilet Training
No 1: Start thinking about potty training the second they start to stand up.
No 2: Leave in nappies way longer than you should because you just can’t be bothered.
No 1: Dress from head to toe in Ted Baker and Jasper Conran outfits bought with all the Debenhams vouchers you were given when they were born.
No 2: Dress in hand-me-downs, regardless of size, personality or gender, because you’re too tired to go shopping and nobody bothers giving you gifts for your second child anyway.
8. TV Time
No 1: Avoid technology and television at all costs - it mashes their mind and disrupts their sleep.
No 2: Plonk in front of baby TV from three weeks old to maintain their trace-like state while you deal with feeding/ dressing/trying to control No 1.
9. Classes and Skills
No 1: Start swimming lessons at ten weeks, music classes from three months. At 18 months enroll at the local football/gymnastic centre. By age six has added French, gymnastics, ukulele classes and drama to his/her repertoire.
No 2: Dragged between community centres, swimming pools and sports halls from day one as mum attempts to keep up with No 1’s hectic schedule. Finally gets a class of her own once No 1 has started school. Shines brighter than ever before and induces gargantuan levels of guilt as Mum realises she should, really, have given her a great deal more attention from the off.
So there you have it. Children are great things. They bring joy and delight wherever they go. But as with anything, from cheesecake to chips, the more you have, the less exciting they are. How anybody has the time or inclination for a third is totally beyond me.