Note from Paige: This post is a guest post written by someone other than me. From Time to time I want to be able to feature other wonderful parents and their stories.
Rachel Bowman writes at Just Getting Things Done, a website for working moms that want to get their life back on track even if they barely have the energy to make it through the day. She has two little girls, ages 1 and 3, works a day job and spends weekend nap times hanging out in the backyard with her
When you have your first child there’s a lot of uncertainty. What will labor be like? Will I make it through the birth? What kind of parent will I be? Will my baby be big or small? Smart or not-so-smart? Cute or (heaven forbid) ugly?
All these uncertainties will be there to some degree the second time around. But by the time you have your second, you know what parenting is like for you. You will have realized there are some things you can’t control (like your child). Whether your baby will be a girl or boy, what he or she will look like, what kind of personality they will have.
You will have also learned to pick your battles. Once you get to the toddler years with your first, you are well-versed in picking your battles. I think that’s why we treat our second children differently. From the get-go, we let go of those things we can’t control and we already know which battles are not worth it.
I have two girls. My second daughter turned one in mid-April. My first daughter is 3. They are almost exactly two years apart. So we had some experience with the toddler years by the time our youngest was crawling and walking. There are a lot of things I let my second daughter do that I’d never let my first:
Drink the water at a hotel pool.
I don’t mean accidentally swallow a little bit. I mean she was scooping water with her hand and lapping it up like a puppy.
Eat yogurt with a spoon by herself.
Which of course resulted in her smearing it all over her face. I didn’t even get mad about it. I couldn’t because I knew it would happen. Actually, it was pretty funny.
Not on purpose. I tell her not to, but I left her alone with it for a minute when I was on the phone with my mom while cooking dinner and watching both girls. Thankfully she did not eat half the container (like I thought at first), just a bite.
Put sidewalk chalk in her mouth.
We tell her not to, and say “No” when she does. But that doesn’t really stop her from doing it. Eventually we have to walk over and take it away.
Walk on the patio pavers without holding her hands.
I still have this fear that she’s going to fall and crack her head open, but I let her walk around in the backyard without clinging to her every second.
Climb the stairs by herself.
We let her climb the stairs by herself as long as we’re right there watching and able to catch her if she did fall. Or at least we think we’d be able to catch her.
Skip brushing teeth.
By this I mean she has never brushed her teeth. I think she gets away with this one because she doesn’t really have any teeth. She only has four. But we added toothbrushing to the bedtime routine as soon as our first was weaned.
Go to daycare as an infant.
We had a nanny for 6 months after I went back to work with our first. When we toured daycares the first time it made me a little sad to see babies just laying on the floor. Our second went to daycare at 3 ½ months.
Leave the house without backups of everything.
The first time we took her to the doctor after she was born we didn’t even bring a diaper with us. We started just stocking them in the car to make sure we had backups.
Eat food off the floor.
What’s the point in trying to stop that? We just admit it’s going to happen.
Pick up teething rings off the ground and put them in her mouth – This one is from my husband. He said we would rinse them off for our oldest. I don’t remember that.
Wander around the house without direct supervision.
We don’t let her go downstairs since, you know, she doesn’t know how to go down stairs. But we pretty much let her wander at will.
Play outside without hovering.
She gets to explore our backyard way more than our older daughter ever did. Yes, this means she falls down sometimes, but it’s in the grass.
I have a feeling we’ll just keep adding to this list the older our girls get. I think it’s just the way things go. Like I said, with your first you figure out which battles are worth it. With your second you don’t waste your breath on things that aren’t worth it.
Our younger daughter is definitely independent, which may be a result of all those things we let her do. I’m not sure yet if that’s good or bad. When she doesn’t get her way she screams and pitches a huge fit. I’m hoping she grows out of that. And who knows, maybe by the time we have our third we’ll really have this parenting thing down?