Friday, 3 May 2013

First Child/Second Child

Before I had my first child, I guess I had a certain idea of how things were going to go. Of course, as all parents know, not everything works out as you plan - perhaps you get a baby who will only feed to sleep, or your child decides they don't like vegetables. Perhaps you find yourself with a climber, or a little one who doesn't walk until long after his buddies. However, these small issues with Child One were nothing compared to the differences between the first and second child. In fact, I'm kind of worried what would happen if we ever had a third...

First Child - no sugar or salt in anything until at least the age of one - this includes no advent calendar or Easter Egg, as the smallest amount will have dire consequences. Only 'baby' crisps, biscuits and snacks allowed.
Second Child - Forget trying to restrict snacks, Child One will kindly 'share' the most inappropriate well before the recommended weaning age. If this isn't done intentionally, Child Two's advanced foraging skills will soon come into play under the dinner table as soon as they are mobile. And we all know that they invented white chocolate because babies make such a mess with the usual stuff, right? So that must mean it's an approved weaning food...

First Child: Enjoy browsing baby shops whilst your little one is happily strapped into their thoughtfully-chosen pram and select the best of the best to suit their 'character'. Your baby will not only look ├╝ber-cute but also well ahead of the trends. Now where's the number for that baby-modelling company.
Second Child: Now you have both a baby and a toddler, you get away with what you can. It's not unknown for baby to be dressed in the same babygro for days (and nights) at a time - if it's avoided any major explosions from various orifices then it is practically a miracle and therefore should be enjoyed. Anyway, baby clothes are all the same - who can tell if it's pyjamas or not? When Child Two does graduate to clothes (with Child One this age was about 6 weeks, Child Two is lucky to be out of babygros by 18 months) he or she has to wear Child One's cast offs, sometimes regardless of gender (navy and red flowers are unisex, surely). New clothes shopping is no longer an option - you probably can't afford it, you know it will get wrecked eventually and in any case, any kind of shopping is rendered akin to purgatory now that Child One has hit toddler-hood. Once carefully selected designer lookalikes are now not only a couple of years out of date but also worn through at the knees and stained around the neck. Less baby modelling, more charity shop chic. Still, you tell yourself, no one knows if those stains are 2 hours old or 2 years old, right?

Social Life:
First Child: Before Child One was even born, you knew exactly how their social life was going to pan out. Weekly events include post natal group (otherwise known as peaceful babies surrounded by mums with cups of tea group), under ones groups and baby rhyme time. If a snotty toddler happened to be near your baby - or worse, snatch something from your baby - you would do an inward eye roll. Seriously, how difficult is it to keep them away from the little ones?
Second Child: There is no chance of peaceful baby time when Child Two comes along. This time you are the mum whose toddler runs wilfully away from you whilst you try to feed/comfort/change the baby. You screech after them, hoping that they aren't causing too much havoc and lever the baby under your arm to follow. In turn, you are much more relaxed with older children around Child Two. After all, it seems unlikely that any other child is going to be quite as 'loving' (rough) as his own sibling so he can probably take it. Child Two is lucky to have a couple of similar-aged buddies, but only because they happen to be the younger siblings of Child One's friends. At least when you get together you and the other mum can seek temporary solace in knowing you're not alone.

Mum-guilt strikes again - surely Child Two is disadvantaged by all this? Just think of the time and attention you lavished on Child One when it was just them... Then you stop and look. From birth Child Two has barely taken his eyes off his older sibling. He has learnt so much already (well, he has learnt how to give as good as he gets in hair-pulling contests anyway). They might drive you (and each other) crazy, but they will always have each other to rely on. That's why you wanted two children, right?


  1. It's funny how you do relax so much with the 2nd isn't it? No strict sleeping routine either, the 2nd one just has to fit around your day. But they sure as hell learn quicker and in a few years having a sibling only a couple of years older will be just fab.

    1. Oh I really hope my two reach the playing together rather than fighting stage one day. I'm doubting it though - I think the fighting might be here to stay for the next 18 years or so! Funnily enough we are much more routine led with sleep with number two as I had no routine at all when Harry was a baby - now I fix our day round Archie's sleeps!

  2. Great post Lucy! I can't wait for another baby and I'm sure all these things will happen when I do :-)

    Hels X