Welcome back mommies! Thanks for joining me again as we see another guest post. Here, Michal from Sydney, Australia, shares the lesson in learning through experience. Enjoy!
How Child 1 taught me to raise Child 2
Baby 1 arrived and I was full of theoretical knowledge. I’d read the books (all the books), I’d been on the parenting courses and I’d made a collection of notes, tips and guidelines. I was petrified but ready. Well I wasn’t ready but that’s a different post for a different day.
What I hadn’t anticipated though was what to do when they turned from babies into little people, a big blank canvas but with big ideas and huge personalities. And this was really where I needed to know what I was doing – as your babies change into little people you have to be ready for raising them, guiding them and helping them develop into the best versions of themselves.
Straight out baby 1, as he has become a big boy, showed me that if I let him set the path, he’ll set it and he’ll stick to it. So, the overarching lesson I’ve learnt from baby 1 that runs through everything else I talk about below is the sooner you start any routine, structure or behavior, the better it is accepted or followed by your little one.
Now that I’ve set the scene, I’ll hit you with the ways my first helped me better raise my second.
These are the 5 lessons I’ve learnt from having my first baby and which I have put into practice with my second, some of these have been intentional and others have just happened in the normal course.
Having read this again (as all good bloggers do) I’ve realized that a lot of these lessons should be quite obvious and maybe I’ve been a little silly in thinking that this is news worthy but with everything going on when you become a parent for the first time you don’t get the time or the ‘bandwidth’ to sit down and think about a lot of things. Now, with my second baby well on her way to becoming a little girl the below are very clear to me, so much so that I am able to share them with you.
1. With the best intentions, you’ve done okay
As I’ve said above, prior to actually becoming a parent, I was completely clued up and prepared for being a parent. And then I became a parent…
My son didn’t go by the book. Any book. He didn’t sleep from day one, he had jaundice then colic and just didn’t want to sleep EVER. He fed though and for that I am grateful.
With a lack of sleep coupled with all the expectations I had piled on myself I felt awful and guilty that everytime something went wrong I was causing life long damage.
What I realized after a while – maybe 18 months later, maybe 2 years later – is that with great intentions, a true commitment and patience in spades it will be okay. There will be awful days and you will get things wrong but it will be okay. You will not do permanent damage washing their hair with body wash or forgetting to give them a fully balanced meal… They will survive and they will keep growing beautifully and in 18 months or 2 years you will forget that ‘awful’ thing you did.
2. You’ve got to be a little stricter sometimes
It starts with this gorgeous little bundle entering your world, reminding you of your husband or a family member and they appear to be so perfect and miraculous. Then (drum roll please) they develop their personality and their willpower and they become naughty, naughty in an exploratory inquestive manner but while they’re discovering everything around them they also push boundaries and push all your buttons.
It’s so easy to let them off the hook when they’re little, my favourite justifications include:
“But look how cute he is”
“How did he know how to do that, it’s so impressive, at his age he shouldn’t know how to do/ say that”
“He’s tired just leave him be”
“He’s excited just leave him to do it”
But what I’ve learnt is what’s cute at 1 isn’t cute at 2 and it’s even worse at 3 and if you let them do it in the first instance they will continue to do it again and again and it will become the normal, acceptable behavior.
You have to be strict so that they know boundaries, they need to know what they can and can’t do in your house and with you so that they take that out into the world with them.
That bump will most likely not kill them
I’m not sure how many times we panicked about a temparature or a small mark on my son’s body and that is perfectly natural and completely understandable that you take them off to the doctor when you’re concerned but what I’m talking about is that awful awful moment when completely by accident your child trips over your toe and bumps their head or when you turn your back and they fling their arms out and hit something hard and you feel so incredibly guilty. That’s the moment I’m talking about.
It is okay. It sucks, they’ve hurt themself and need you but this is all part of the learning curve and it makes them stronger and resilient and teaches them how to deal with hurt, pain and sadness.
You don’t need everything to be entertained, stimulated or happy
I had heard that children were sometimes more interested in the box that the gift inside but it took having my first child to see it for myself and to learn how this rule develops into other aspects of providence.
It’s so easy to fall into a trap where you want to give your children everything because you want them to know that you love them and cherish them but it can do more harm than good. As I’ve learnt from my first and it’s a hard lesson to learn, children need to learn gratitude, value and appreciation and the only way they can learn this is if you avoid spoiling them.
The other aspect to this is that your time and your attention is far more important that taking them for a treat or buying them what they want. Your attention is the ONLY thing no one else can give them.
Every day is only 24 hours long
I’ve alluded to how hard the early months of baby number 1 were and really it was, alone with no friends who had kids and my family living 1000km away I had days when nothing would go right and I had no support. I wanted to sit somewhere and just have a good cry.
It was hard but you know, what I know now, on my worst days and there are some of those now that there are 2 kids and our family lives on a different continent, the bad day is only 24 hours long. A new day means a chance of a better day. You know how it is with kids, things can change in the blink of an eye and by extension tomorrow may be (and probably will be) completely different to today.
And as I’ve said before, I know that you’re doing okay or going to be okay because if you’ve taken the time to read this, you genuinely care and that in itself is a massive piece of the puzzle that is parenting.
Michal, from Sydney, Australia, was in her past life a lawyer who focused on Constitutional and Human Rights in Sou.th Africa through the process of studying to be a lawyer and practicing she had to learn how to research and string sentences together. She is mom of two, a little boy who is in love with the colour Green, fixing things and making inventions and a little girl who loves her brother and anything to do with Minnie Mouse or The Wiggles. You can read more about Michal and her mommyhood adventures at AllThingsMomSydney.com