Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Is it easier second time round?

I'm referring of course to a second baby. It's a question I hear a lot and I think I probably asked other mums with two or more children before our second was born. Now that our baby girl is approaching seven months, I feel in a position to share my thoughts on the question.

Firstly, what does that question mean? Well, I think it means parenting and looking after a newborn with all the sleepless nights, the crying, the naps, feeding, getting into a routine (if you're that kind of parent) and dealing with the initial lovely, but tiring, start to having a new family member.

The one thing I hear time and time again is that as a parent, you are so much more relaxed with a second (or any subsequent) child. You don't panic at every little thing, you don't worry as much, you don't check they are still breathing as many times as you did with your first child. It's true. You do know what you're doing more second time round. That's the big difference I think. It's not that the baby and the looking after it is easier, it's that as a parent you perhaps have a better experience because it's no longer the unfamiliar, unknown territory it was with your first child.

You might not remember the details from your first baby's early weeks and months of their life, but you remember enough to reassure yourself that everything is a stage and any challenging aspect will soon pass. You just get on with it because you have to! There's not the luxury of time you have with a first child, the one-on-one moments are fewer and they have to fit in around their older sibling's routine.

The hardest thing I have so far found with an additional child is illnesses. My oldest child will invariably pick up something from nursery, the baby gets it a few days later and more often than I'd like, my husband and I will get it too. The more people in the family, the more time it takes to be rid of the cold, bug or whatever. It can be a good month or more before we are all fighting fit again and then there's always the fear that something else will strike.

In conclusion, it's still hard work dealing with a newborn; the feeding, the lack of sleep and such like. Added to which, there's a lively toddler who needs life to be kept as 'normal' as possible. It's not easy finding quality time for both children and keeping both of them happy most of the time but somehow getting on with life and doing the things that first time round seemed such a big challenge (like taking a shower, getting out of the house) is much easier.

I remember in the first couple of months after all the family visitors had left, thinking there was no way I could manage by myself with the two children. Now, I can laugh at myself for having that thought! It was difficult at times but also easier sometimes than I had imagined. Whatever happens, you muddle through it and do the best you can!

If you're a parent of two or more children, I'd love to hear your perspective on the first six months or year of having two / three children and the things you found easier or struggled with. What is your answer to the question: is it easier second time round?
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