Now a second time mom, here are the lessons and useful tips I’ve learned from my first child and what I’m doing differently the second time around.
First-born children are the guinea pigs of new parents learning on the job. Even now, my son teaches me the challenges of each age and stage as we enter three-year-old territory.
Meanwhile, his younger brothers enjoy a bit of been-there-done-that mentality. Especially as I note which methods have worked, and which ones I swore I would never do again.
What I’m doing differently as a second time mom:
Feeding on demand
With my older son, I struggled with breastfeeding because I felt tied down. As such, I didn’t feed him on demand.
I still wasn’t feeding the twins on demand until their pediatrician suggested doing so. Especially given their preemie status. And what do you know: it’s not as bad as I imagined.
For one thing, these kiddos are (so far) good sleepers and tend to sleep in three-hour stretches. I also now understand the benefit of feeding on demand at this age. My little guys need to pack on the pounds and almost always fuss about hunger and not much less. I realize that this is all temporary. The frustration I feel balances knowing it’ll all fly by.
Plus we’re also feeding on schedule since the boys need to eat no longer than every three hours. So we’re doing a bit of both.
Putting the baby down drowsy but awake
I now get to test out the ubiquitous advice of putting the baby down drowsy but awake. I want them to learn to sleep on their own. I don’t want them freak out and wonder why they’re not in someone’s arms anymore but in the bassinet).
Amazingly, both boys yet again have done well with this method. They’ll still fall asleep in someone’s arms or by nursing before being set down. But they’ll settle themselves to sleep without needing to be in deep sleep.
Putting the baby flat on his back
My first son never liked sleeping flat on his back. I even had to sort through early photos of him sleeping on his back to prove he had at one point done this. Because until we sleep trained, he required different methods and contraptions to fall asleep. From wedges to swings to infant seats that curled him into a ball, he didn’t sleep on his back.
This time, the twins are almost always flat on their backs, especially at nights when no one can hold them.
Having them nap in different parts of the house
I had always envied kids who’d be lying down on the couch when—bam!—their eyes close and they’re down for a nap.
With my eldest, we weren’t flexible with sleeping places and placed him in a swing or his crib to fall sleep. This meant that if we were out, no amount of rocking would yield a nap. He wasn’t able to fall asleep just anywhere.
So far, the twin boys have slept in their bassinets, pack-and-play, cribs, the floor, the couch, in people’s arms… you name it.
Relaxing a bit more and worrying a lot less
I felt so tied down with my first baby. If I wanted to grab a tissue from the next room, I felt I couldn’t leave him even though he was safe where he was.
I’m a whole lot emotionally able to care for the twins too, despite there being two of them. I remind myself that whatever discomforts or inconveniences we’re experiencing are but temporary.
My expectations are also much lower. With my first, I beat myself up for not having a clean house or not finishing the novel I’d normally read quickly.
As a second-time mom, I knew what to expect. Whereas I didn’t know if I would ever sleep again with my singleton, I knew this time around that I would. I noticed how I adjusted to the newborn stage with the twins compared to the first.
With my eldest son, I felt alone. I assumed my family and friends couldn’t have gone through the same madness I was. They all seemed so fine and normal, whereas I felt depleted and desperate. Only later would I learn that it does get better.
When the twins arrived, I was just as tired physically, if not more so, than I had ever been. But in my mind, I knew everything would turn out all right. Despite sleepless nights, rocking to sleep or breastfeeding, I knew we’d return to our normal lives.
And I knew they’d be my last. With my first born, I rushed every moment, hoping for a turn with every milestone he reached. I wanted longer stretches of sleep, the ability to hold his head up—anything to make life easier. With the twins, I learned to, as they say, cherish the moment (at least most of them). Especially knowing I wouldn’t have them much longer.
Growing up wasn’t a competition anymore, or a milestone checklist I crossed off. With the twins, growing up became the competition, as I clung on to their current stage.
The little babies I didn’t mind burping on my shoulder, even after a long nursing session. The toes that will eventually get too stinky and sweaty to kiss. Even now, at almost three-years-old, I know the days when I can carry them in my arms are dwindling fast.
Get more tips on parenthood:
- Moms, We’re All in This Together
- These Are the Things Your Kids Will Remember About You
- I Don’t WANT to ‘Cherish Every Moment’: What I Won’t Miss about Parenthood
- Ask the Readers: Do You Feel like a Confident Mom?
- How to Make Time for Yourself (Especially if You Have Kids)
What did you learn from being a first time mom that you applied to your other kids? What would you do differently after having gone through being a parent to your first child that you would do with subsequent kids?
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