My second-born son has been a little out-of-sorts recently. His poo was a bit of a weird colour for a couple of days (please don’t make that face, we all look at the colour of their poo). I asked Google about ‘toddler’s poo colours’ and it said there was nothing to worry about. We all know that Google is always right, especially when it comes to medical matters, so I wasn’t overly concerned. Apart from the poo situation, he was fine. He was eating well and sleeping well, so I didn’t feel the need to take him to see the doctor. But it got me thinking, if this had been my first-born son would I have been so calm and rational? Not a chance!
I started thinking about what I do differently as a second-time parent, but I didn’t really think there would be many differences as I’m pretty consistent with my parenting methods. Or am I?
Routine! Routine! Routine!
I was a routine freak with my first-born. I read ALL the books – ‘What to Expect in the First Year’, ‘The Baby Whisperer’, ‘Super Nanny’, ‘Gina (I don’t care if you cry) Ford’ - I read them all searching for the perfect parenting formula. I recorded in an A4 notebook when he slept, what he ate, how much formula he took and if he had a poo that day and what colour it was. I wouldn’t leave the house if it was over his nap-time as he MUST nap in his cot. I was all over this routine malarkey.
My second-born had a routine of sorts, but definitely not one that Gina would approve of. There was definitely more ‘flex’ in his routine - he basically had to fit in with whatever else was going on that day. He obviously had a feeding routine and he had his naps, but there was none of this only napping in the cot. My second-born son was napping all over town – in the coffee shop, at the supermarket, in the car during school run and during his brother’s swimming lesson. If he’s tired, he’ll sleep wherever, that was my motto.
The dreaded dummy…
I don’t know why I have this love/hate relationship with a bit of plastic and silicon, but I do. With my first-born I was adamant that I didn’t want to use a dummy, but after a few weeks of rocking for an average of 30 minutes every sleep-time, I succumbed to the dummy. But there were rules. The dummy was only to be used for getting him off to sleep. I was so against the dummy that I would only let him have it until I thought he was sleeping, then I’d covertly remove it from his mouth. By the time my son was six months old, the dummy was gone – hooray!
My second-born was a whole different story. I still had the intention of not succumbing to the dreaded dummy, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that the dummy was my new best friend. Having a 4-year-old in the house along with a new-born baby is a very different experience from being that first-time mum, who can devote every second of her time to her new precious baby. Second-time-round I’ll take all the help I can get! My son loved to chill with his dummy and it gave me a little more breathing space to attend to the whole family, without my head exploding. I had back-up dummies stashed all over the house, in hand-bags and in the car - hooray for the dummy!
My husband and I decided very early on in parenthood that the baby wouldn’t sleep in our bed and we stuck to it. Our first-born son was NEVER allowed to fall asleep in our bed. Even if he was unsettled during the night hours, we’d always get him back to sleep in his room. Our bed was strictly out-of-bounds until after sunrise. We did allow cuddles in our bed in the morning – we’re not complete monsters, honestly!
The sleeping arrangements with my second-born child were slightly different. Slightly different in that he could sleep wherever he wanted as long as he slept. If he was sleeping, then I too was sleeping. I didn’t care where sleep took place, just as long as it happened and as quickly as possible please. Along with every other parent on the planet, I never did totally appreciate how AMAZING sleep was pre-parenthood.
Second-time parenting has been an interesting topic to think about and I now acknowledge that I do parent my second-born differently in some ways, but I’d say this is normal for a lot of us. This job we’ve been blessed with, to raise these little human beings, is incredible most of the time, but sometimes it’s tough and with so many ‘experts’ telling us the right way to do it, it’s not always clear what to do for the best. I say that we should do what feels right at the time and stop beating ourselves up if we get some things wrong along the way. After all, we can always get the kids therapy when they’re older.