Thursday, 30 June 2011

Second Time Round

When my son Joe was born in 1988, I went from being young, free and single to being a mum.  The overwhelming responsibility that came with the birth of my child was immense.  He wasn't an easy baby.  After a traumatic birth he was an angry little boy, with clenched fists who stayed in the foetal position for weeks.  He was difficult to feed.  I had to give up breastfeeding and source a bottle that he could feed from.  It took a long time for him to feed happily.  I had to find nappies that didn't chafe his sensitive skin...disposables weren't as soft and well fitted 22 years ago.  He cried a lot and didn't sleep well for those early weeks. 

As a toddler he was extremely mischievous and energetic.  He got up to all sorts including flushing his new leather shoes down the toilet.  He was a really fussy eater, able to eject a piece of vegetable from a mouthful of food.  He always wanted the latest toys and I tried desperately to placate him with every must have that was stocked in Woolies!  I felt like I had to live up to my own high expectations of motherhood.  Being a young, single parent I tried even harder to prove to everyone that I could do it.  

I adored my baby boy and really tried extremely hard to compensate for the fact that I couldn't give him everything I wished for.  Being a first time mummy was hard...being a single, teenage mummy was harder still!

When Joe was 3 I had baby number two, Megan.  I had a horrendous pregnancy developing pre-eclampsia and winding up in hospital.  However, my little girl was delivered safely into the world.  It should have been the start of a really difficult time...two under threes on my own.  (I had just come out of a really unpleasant relationship...the odds were stacked against me.)

However, I remember the midwife visiting me and saying how well organised I was and that I was coping so well I could babysit a couple of others. I was relaxed and happy just to take things that had previously stressed me out in my stride.  I knew I could do it.  I knew that there was no need to panic because things end up OK in the end.  I was happier to accept help and had much more confidence.  I felt less judged as a mum of two than a mum of one.

So even though in essence it was double the workload, it was half the pressure.  I had well established routines and had learned tricks of the trade.  From a very early age I'd sit Meg in her bouncy chair and prop her milk bottle on the toy bar which was just the right height for her to drink it.  I got on with other things as she fed herself!!  I had no problem with her sitting with her brother watching the latest Disney movie on TV.  I never felt the need to buy everything to prove I was a good mum.  Days out with friends were more important!  I went back to college when she was a baby, and happily had her looked after at the creche.  I wasn't as over protective and stressful, even though I adored her, I was able to look to the bigger picture and do things for the benefit of our little family without feeling guilty.

Having baby number three was a breeze and really didn't cause me any stress at all. I was an accomplished young mum and was by now with my amazingly supportive husband.  My next two additions to the family altered the family dynamic for the better...just adding more love and fun to family life.  Having a big family is really not that hard compared to those days when I had just one baby to care for.

This is my experience of motherhood.  It is an interesting phenomenon that having more babies makes parenting easier and less stressful. 

Leading nursery brand Munchkin have commissioned a survey of 3000 mums investigating the difference between having one child and two.  

The study has revealed 75 per cent of mums feel more relaxed with their second child, and as a result are less likely to treat them with ‘kid gloves’. As such, the stats reveal second children will more than likely go onto solid foods slightly earlier with 26 per cent of ‘second time mums’ less likely to make the baby their own special meals after weaning, and simply blend whatever the family is having. When it comes to splashing out on purchases for the new baby, mums are more likely to accept second-hand clothes, and spend less money on toys and treats. In fact, a quarter of all mums admitted to being more relaxed and confident with their second child.

Five things mums admitted to doing differently with their second child

1.     Leave to entertain themselves for short period whilst they get on with some housework
2.     Started weaning them slightly earlier than six months
3.     More willing to accept second hand clothes
4.     Spend less money on toys and treats
5.     Let them watch ‘older television’ at a younger age than their older sibling

Dr Amanda Gummer is a leading authority on child development, play and parenting with over 20 years experience. Her aim is for every parent to feel comfortable and relaxed with how they parent their child. Amanda states: “These findings suggest that it’s the little things that mums do that are different with their second child. With two, mums naturally start to work smarter because they have so much to get through each day. Generally when the second child comes along, mums have become much more confident in their parenting abilities and developed their own style.”

So we should celebrate our experience and see it as the gift it is!!  Does your experience match these findings?


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