I’ve seen some posts on social media lately where parents talk about what they will do differently with their second baby. Usually these are around changes that make life easier the second time around. As a mum of two, I decided that today I would write about some things that I did differently the second time around to make my life easier. Unlike some of the ideas suggested on the social media posts I’ve seen everywhere, the things I did differently were mostly about looking after myself. When I had my second baby, I looked for things that would make my life easier and less stressful, and things that would help me feel less mum guilt, more in control, and more connected to my children. Here are my list of things I did differently:
1) Not worry about baby sleep:
When I had my first baby, I wanted to be a perfect mum. I bought all the books about parenting, baby sleep, baby feeding, and every other parenting topic I could get my hands on. I had some great information, but some of the topics also caused me so much stress – the main one was baby sleep. I had read in the books that I needed to have my baby on a sleep schedule, and that I should ensure my baby could self-settle, and that stretches of sleep should get longer overnight as the baby got older. Unfortunately for me, my baby hadn’t read the book, and I couldn’t get her to follow the directions in the book. It didn’t matter what I did, my baby didn’t sleep through the night at four months old like the books said she should. I can’t even tell you how many nights I cried because my baby had woken up for a feed overnight even though the books said she shouldn’t. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and felt like a bad mother. It really wasn’t until she was much older that I realised none of those things mattered. It actually didn’t matter what age she slept through the night, or how many night feeds she had. As long as both of us could get some sleep, we could both be happy. With my second baby, I happily embraced the non-scheduled sleep, night feeds, and co-sleeping. I found when I stressed less about night wakings, I could quickly feed the baby and get back to sleep fast without feeling stressed or exhausted. I stopped counting the number of feeds, and refused to look at the clock when my baby fell asleep or woke up.
2) Not bother with a nursery:
I’m sure others do this too, but I designed the perfect nursery for my first baby. I had beautiful wall art and decorations, I had her bookshelf set up full of beautiful children’s books, and all her little clothes all hung perfectly in her wardrobe. In reality, she slept in our bedroom with us for the whole first year of her life, and didn’t care at all for any of the things in her nursery until she was much older. It was also kind of annoying for us having all her things in the other bedroom at the other end of the house when she was always sleeping in with us. The second time around, our son had a bedroom that was ready but we didn’t bother putting anything into it until he was ready to move in there after his first birthday. It meant all his clothing and everything he needed was in our bedroom and it was more convenient for us!
3) Later toilet training:
Toilet training was yet another thing that I had put so much pressure and emphasis on. I had seen so many people in older generations talk about how modern parents don’t toilet train our children until later because we are “lazy”. Of course that is absolute rubbish, and we all want what’s best for our children, but at the time I still had this in my head. So once my daughter turned two, I was determined to toilet train. I was also pregnant by this stage, and wanted her out of nappies by the time our son was born to make it “easier”. Unfortunately for me, toilet training a child who isn’t quite ready yet resulted in a lot of accidents, washing tonnes of clothing, and a child that still has daily accidents when the new baby comes along. This time I am taking my son’s lead, and just going with what he needs at the time. I am in no rush, and won’t be pushing him before he’s ready.
4) Less strict exclusive breastfeeding:
As a breastfeeding mother, I was so determined that I would exclusively breastfeed and that my child wouldn’t have any formula. I pumped a whole lot of milk to put in the freezer for emergencies. When she started daycare at 9 months old, I sent frozen breast milk and pumped at work. While I am proud of my efforts with breastfeeding, the second time around I was much more open to doing what needed to be done. I didn’t find daily pumping sustainable, so I didn’t do it. I sent my son formula to childcare when he started. I didn’t worry if he had an occasional bottle of formula, and I still managed to breastfeed for 18 months. While I think breastfeeding is awesome, it truly doesn’t matter if you need to give bottles sometimes.
5) Do fewer classes Activities:
Yet another thing I tried to do a lot of as a new mother was activities! I signed up for sensory classes, play group, library, everything. I quite enjoyed these with my first child, and continued them for a while after my second was born. While in Covid lockdowns, I stopped going to these activities, and realised that I could actually have a lot of fun with the kids without these activities. After lockdowns lifted, we only went to a few activities that we really liked, and didn’t feel the need to fill every single day with an organised activity.
6) Worry about being perfect:
You might have noticed in quite a few of these, I mention that I wanted to be the “perfect” mother. I thought that I could do everything right and be perfect, raising my children perfectly. After parenting for four years, I now realise that there is no such thing as a perfect mother, and that there is no reason to feel guilt over not being perfect. I also realise that everyone’s definition of perfect is different, and I cannot live or parent the same way as other people. Instead of trying to be perfect, I now try to focus on what makes myself and my children happy, and parenting while upkeeping the values I find important. I don’t worry about anything unimportant, and try to focus on raising my kids and myself the best way I can.
If you are a second time parent, what did you do differently with your second child?
If someone close to you is having their second baby, check out our blog on buying gifts for second babies here!