The feeling of being completely out of my depth that I had when I first became a parent thankfully dissipated when I birthed my second child. Instead of feeling like I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I felt rather seasoned and experienced.
Sure, I didn’t yet know how to juggle the needs of both my children efficiently yet – but that skill came. There were definitely changes in the way things were done, however, and a lot of things I actually stopped doing altogether, seven of which are listed below.
I remember being that parent at the playground with my first child – the helicopter parent – constantly hovering over her, watching her every step. I’m sure I would have literally wrapped her in bubble wrap if I could to prevent any falls. I know I made many unnecessary trips to my GP for mild ailments which never actually needed medical attention, too. When my second child came along I grew in confidence that the bumps, bruises and tumbles that come with childhood are actually all important parts of childhood. My second daughter taught me the true resilience of children – and so I stopped hovering, and confidently let her find her own path, tumbles and all.
2. Scheduling/watching the clock
Oh my goodness, how the clock dictated the lives of me and my first daughter! I would time her feeds, I would time her naps, I would plan her day sleeps, her awake time … even her bath time. In an effort to regain some control of the complete and utter overwhelming feeling of having no control – I scheduled whatever I could, even if my baby didn’t often agree. It was maddening, even if I wasn’t aware of it back then. By the time my second daughter came along I begrudgingly admitted defeat and I threw out my obsessive clock-watching habits and instead followed the cues of my baby daughter, and she proved to be my biggest teacher in the art of surrender and trust.
3. Going to cafes
It’s such a lovely scene – the toddler at the cafe with the mother, sipping cappuccinos together while the baby sleeps in a carrier or pram, isn’t it? It’s such a pity it isn’t an accurate depiction of real-life. I used to go to the cafe when my baby was small enough to chill out in the carrier and not move or … talk, yes. But when my second child came along I soon discovered there’s no such thing as a “relaxing” time at a cafe with a toddler and a newborn. So, cafe trips came to a halt and we learned to embrace park picnics instead.
4. Anticipating sleep
When you’re the parent of one small child, sleep sort of evolves into a predictable rhythm after a while. Juggling the sleep needs of two small children at once however, is pretty exhausting. I remember it feeling like a bit of a marathon on a hamster wheel, or something like that. One thing that helped me feel less overwhelmed was actually to stop anticipating sleep all together. Like, at all. That way when I got sleep, no matter how small the chunk of it was – it was a win.
5. Making baby food
We did baby led weaning with our first daughter a little, but the luxury of not having to spend hours preparing food for her really came into its own when my second daughter was born. There just wasn’t enough hours in the day. I completely embraced the messy fun of baby-led-weaning when I became a parent for the second time and even her then-toddler sister assisted in providing her with a wide variety of solid food choices (like playdoh).
6. Sterilising bottles or … anything
With my first daughter, every single thing that her mouth came into contact with – was washed or sterilised. Bottles, toys, dummies, car-seat straps … you name it; I washed it. When my second daughter came along and developed a strong preference for crawling into the kitchen and licking the dirt off the unwashed potatoes, I learned to relax my cleanliness obsession a little! She caught fewer bugs than my first daughter did too, go figure.
7. Having sex
With one child, you can put the baby to sleep and then go and canoodle on the couch and practise making your second baby. But when you have a baby and a toddler who seem to enjoy tag-teaming sleep needs, having sex becomes a little trickier and it often goes on hold for a while. In hindsight, this obviously didn’t deter us for too long because we now have four daughters! I guess we learned to be creative and further develop our time management skills …
When my second daughter came along, it was a continual lesson in letting go for me. But I think, looking back – that in letting go, I was actually opening my heart and our lives up to gaining so much more than I had ever had before. It’s funny how that works.