Lots of people say that they worry less with the second baby – and this was true for me in some respects. I definitely felt more relaxed as a mother from the first day of his life. I didn’t stress about small things like prolonged tummy time as a newborn, knocks when he started walking, or him getting dirty when we went to the play park. But I found new things to worry about. I only started reading up on the wonderful world of motherhood when I had my first baby – and with this new knowledge of all the things that could go wrong, I found myself worrying more about the bigger issues of sleep safety, choking hazards, and signs of something being seriously wrong. So whilst I did worry less on a day-to-day basis, I worried more about the bigger issues.
2) I forced myself out the door
Right from the day after we arrived home from hospital, I forced myself out the house with a newborn and toddler As even when I could hardly walk after giving birth, the alternative of staying in the house with a toddler running up the walls wasn’t worth the convenience of staying on the sofa. This has been my mantra ever since – it might be hard to get out the door with two children, but I almost always appreciate our efforts in the end.
3) I moved onto real food quicker
When my first baby was about 8 months old, I had lunch with my cousin and her two children. She was giving them fish fingers and asked whether Stanley would like some too. I was horrified! My homemade-puree-eating baby did not eat fish fingers! How ridiculous! And then I had my second baby, he saw his brother eating fish fingers around 8 months old, and gesticulated wildly until I gave him a taster. That was the moment I gave up on purees (mainly shop-bought this time, despite my best intentions) and I have cooked the same thing for both of them ever since.
4) I dressed him like a baby for longer
Whilst I excitedly bought proper little outfits for my first and wanted him to look like a boy from the early days, I left my second in cute babygros for months. And when I moved him out of them, I kept him in leggings because he looked like a baby still – and 15 months later, he still wears them.
5) I didn’t wish away the milestones
With a new understanding of the mischief a crawling baby could cause, I did not count down the days until my second was on the move. Instead, I enjoyed the early days when I could plonk him down and find him in the same place when I returned. And when he started crawling, I looked forward to him walking, but fully expected the bumps, bruises, and knocks that he would get when he took to his feet.
6) I was never complacent
Having gone through it all once before, I never felt smug when things were going right. My baby gobbled up vegetables, but I was aware he may start rejecting them a few months down the line (and he did). My baby slept through the night, but I knew he may catch a cold in the days that followed and wake up 20 times a night coughing (and he did). My baby loved the bath, but he may suddenly decide a few weeks later that the bath was now the devil (and he did). And so it continues. I was better equipped to deal with the setbacks and they never came as a shock.
7) I established a bedtime earlier
I was quite happy for my first baby to hang out with us in the evening when he arrived in our life – but when we finally established a bedtime months down the line, life transformed and I felt myself again in the evenings. So when our second arrived a few years later, we established a bedtime routine much earlier. Because despite enjoying the sleepy evening cuddles (and we did, we really did), I needed that time more than ever.
8) I didn’t bother with baby toys
As soon as my newborn baby could focus, he wanted the toys his brother played with. Here Wilfred, have a rattle! No thanks Mum, I’ll sit here trying to climb onto the scooter if that’s alright. Here Wilfred, have a teething ring! No thanks Mum, I’ll examine this racing car if that’s OK. Here Wilfred, how about a baby book? No thanks Mum, can’t you see I’m reading up on the alphabet? Buying baby toys would have been an utter waste of money.
9) I fell behind with the baby book
Despite my best intentions, I found it incredibly hard to keep up with the baby book that I had bought to match his brother’s. I bought milestone baby cards and took pictures right up to 11 months when I forgot, so we never completed it. I have so many photographs I want to stick into his book or put in frames around the apartment (if you took the time to study the pictures we have framed at home, you’d think we only had one child), but somehow it always get put back to the bottom of the ‘to do’ pile.
10) I learnt to appreciate every second
The first few years of motherhood passed in a flash – so when my second arrived, I was fully aware of how fast time would move. This made me appreciate how lucky I was. At times, I just sit and stare at him, trying to commit his baby self to memory, as I know it will be gone so soon; his chubby wrists, his baby babble, the way his fluffy hair stuck up in the morning. Motherhood comes with its fair share of stressful days, worries, and uncertainties – but my second baby has taught me that these little moments make every second worthwhile. Every single second.