So we have just celebrated my littlest’s first birthday! Such a brilliant milestone and one that as parents you have to take a moment to appreciate and reflect on before you are on to the next one. Especially if it’s baby number one your whole lives have shifted in just one year, no doubt your relationships have been tested and you’ve faced some hard and joyful moments together, but I’m sure you’ll agree it was all worth it.
For us this was the second time celebrating that first birthday moment. We’ve also got a little boy and with them being 21 months apart it’s been even more of a whirlwind of a year as we’ve been parenting two.
I thought I’d share some of the things we have learnt from this first year as a family of four:
It’s ok to divide and conquer:
There have been times this year when I’ve felt like we have been two units rather than one. Where my husband will focus on our toddler and I’ll focus on our baby or vice versa. During the months I was breastfeeding this was definitely the case logistically and it meant that we knew they had one of our focus. I have felts pangs of guilt that our toddler isn’t getting the full attention that he once had but having one on one time, even just with one parent, has made the world of difference for him. Don’t get me wrong we have plenty of moments as a family of four but in those early months we found it so much easier to focus on the needs of one rather than all trying to meet the needs of everyone.
Find moments where you can be in the baby bubble:
Our toddler kept his nursery routine throughout having our little girl. This meant that those mornings I was able to go back to bed or stay on the sofa, eat cake without sharing and be able to give my attention just to my baby and me. Also it meant that I knew he would come home totally worn out, stimulated and well fed which was an amazing feeling. I know not everyone can keep paying for childcare while on mat leave but where you can get a friend or family member to give you a little time each week, it’s not selfish it’s essential.
Siblings are so special:
After having two I definitely see why second children and third children (that was me) have personality factors because of the position they have in their family. It’s because you are forced to parent differently for subsequent children, and that’s ok. My littlest can’t have the same nap routines as I had with my first because we have to go out and I can’t spend ages rocking and shhhing a baby to sleep. We weaned differently second time round because I was already making toddler food and it was easier to let my littlest eat more finger food because it was there ready to go. I could go on but not only does having a sibling make parenting different in logistics but in style. I’m much more relaxed and confident because most things we have been through before. My two are quite similar (I know that’s not always the case) so in terms of sleeping, eating etc I have more confidence to try different things and more confidence to know that phases pass. Most importantly it is truly amazing to watching siblings love each other, yes there is snatching and misunderstanding but that’s because they are one and two years old. But the way they look at each other, laugh at each other and find comfort in each other is amazing and makes up for any lack in time or attention.
So whether you already have two, or maybe you are about to embark on parenting two, hold on to the amazing moments and give as much as you can to those little ones. Most importantly enjoy watching their relationship and your relationship with them grow.