It’s no secret that having your first child is challenging. Everything is brand new: how to hold them, burp them, bathe them, and even how to talk to them. But when it comes to the second baby, does it actually get any easier?
Hmm, let me think about this…YES!
Please note that this is coming from a mom whose second “baby” was twins. Pushing that aside, I’ve found that parenting the second time around has been hella smoother than figuring it all out the first time around.
Drawing from my hard-won victories of the past, I’ve created this list of 5 ways I’ve applied first time parenting lessons to baby number two. Babies number two, to be precise.
1. I got rid of baby stuff
Yes, you heard that right.
I kept half of our baby stuff for twice the number of babies. I’m lucky enough to have inherited bags of hand-me-down clothing from friends but the truth is, my twins just didn’t need it all. And my first time parenting lessons helped me whittle down what my babies needed to just the essentials.
Having all that extra stuff lying around meant more for me to take care of.
So, I took the overflowing bags of baby stuff, dumped it all out on the living room floor, picked out my favorite things, and donated the rest to Goodwill. The second time around is all about experience and I can confidently say that babies do not need 75 (stained) burp cloths and 100 pairs of (stiff) baby jeans.
2. I stopped reading holistic mom blogs
Ooooo, this one’s a bit spicy. I’m a trained chiropractor whose education includes natural, research-based healing techniques so of course, when I had my first kid I dived into the wide world of holistic mom blogs. While yes, they are (mostly) well-meaning, I found their advice to be incredibly overwhelming and unrealistic.
- Like, for example, I should avoid saying “no” to my toddler… is this a joke?!
- I should never feed my kids sugar… boooooring.
- I should plan nonstop activities for them to ensure their constant happiness… absolutely not.
Through my hard won first time parenting lessons, I’ve found that I’m a much happier mom if I avoid this rabbit hole.
I teach my kids boundaries and that certain behaviors have consequences. I feed them cookies, cake, and candy once in a while. I provide them with a safe space to play without them needing my constant, nonstop attention. And hot damn, I can take a breath.
First time parenting lessons lean into simplicity.
3. I plan our dinners
Okay, before you roll your eyes, hear me out. I’m not one of those annoying moms on Instagram pressuring you to have a meal plan and start batch cooking right now. I’m not washing and chopping vegetables ahead of time and organizing them into cute little containers and I’m certainly not planning every single breakfast and lunch, too.
BUT, I do plan our dinners and it has made my evenings much more peaceful.
I bought a cheap erasable calendar that sticks to my fridge and a rainbow pack of dry-erase markers for this purpose.
Once a week, I pull out my list of 15 dinners that we rotate and fill in the calendar. At the same time, I log into Hannaford’s website and place our weekly grocery order, including the ingredients from my dinner list. There is something SO comforting about knowing that I have a plan for dinner at 4 PM when all three kids get up from their Quiet Time grumpy AF. Sometimes, I even reward myself with a glass of wine at this time for doing such a good job planning.
Hey, kids get rewards for their good behaviors… why can’t we?
Ooooo, another spicy topic. With my first baby, I was so afraid to leave him alone that I’d either keep him up late with me or just go to bed early with him.
After 11 months of this brutal schedule, I was starting to lose my mind. I could no longer enjoy hanging out with my husband at night which I knew was not good for our marriage. My baby wanted to breastfeed the entire night, so by morning, my nipples were raw and sore. And worst of all, I knew in my gut that our current setup was not great for his health either; how could he possibly be getting the healthy sleep he needed when he woke up every hour of the night?
I spoke with his pediatrician, found a sleep training book online that I liked, and got to work. Thankfully, it did not include hours of cry-it-out, which didn’t feel right to me. Within a few weeks, that little booger was sleeping through the night and I got my life back.
With my second babies, I started this method as soon as their doctor gave us the green light. Now I have two two-year-olds and a four-year-old who have all been sleeping through the night for many, many moons. And I’m pretty darn proud of it (eek… don’t jinx it, Kelly).
5. I’m not afraid to disrupt the peace
I didn’t realize that actual parenting wouldn’t really start until my kid was two. I mean, of course, my children needed parenting during their first two years of life, but it mostly consisted of ways to keep them safe and fed.
It wasn’t until my first child turned two years old that I learned one of many first time parenting lessons. At age two, I realized how hard parenting really is. I would think, what the hell am I supposed to do when my kid yells ‘No!’ to my face at a party or when he rolls his eyes at our neighbor when she asks him how he’s doing today?
At first, I would do the “ha ha ha”, roll my eyes, and say “kids” with a knowing smile and shake of my head. (I bet you’ve seen this popular reaction many times!)
I figured this would excuse his behavior and that way, the pleasant adult conversation I was having wouldn’t be interrupted. Then, I started thinking about bratty 10-year-olds I’ve met before that still do this and it hit me: OH HELL NO, my kids will not act this way.
I don’t believe in the parenting mentality that kids are our friends and that they should be treated equally to an adult. Nope, I love my kids with all my heart but they need to learn respect and boundaries to be able to grow into kind, responsible adults. This, friends isn’t one of my many first time parenting lessons- this is hard fact.
So now, I’m not afraid to disrupt the peace and interrupt a nice conversation I’m having to deal with situations like these. Now I immediately grab my kid’s hand, crouch down to his level, and say in a calm, firm voice, “When Mrs. Smith is asking you a question, you do not roll your eyes; you answer her. She just asked you how you were doing today so please answer her right now.”
I’ve learned from the past and have applied my first time parenting lessons to the second time around, and you know what? I feel much more relaxed and in control than I used to.
Of course, my older friends chuckle and tell me to “just wait until middle school” or “you haven’t even dealt with teenage driving yet”. For now, I’m going to enjoy my small wins. When I start to worry about parenting in the future, I’ll just follow suit like many of my fellow American moms: pour a glass of wine and watch another episode of Outlander.
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