Having a second baby is a different journey from just having one. I felt guilty when I was pregnant with Nathan, because I love Aidan so much I didn’t think I could have much room in my heart for another.
Well, little Nathan arrived, and I also fell so in love with him. Sometimes I do feel guilty about not paying as much attention to my two-and-half-year-old, but daddy has really stepped up playing with him.
The little one is starting to laugh and crawl, and it’s so adorable watching the boys interact with each other. There’s definitely enough room in my heart for all my boys (my husband, too)!
It has also changed me as a parent, because I’m no longer a “first-time” mom. With the first baby, I wanted to do everything perfectly. I did all this research and stressed over every little detail. I was obsessive about milestones, cleaning, sleeping, eating… everything. As a result, I was constantly frustrated and stressed.
With the second baby, I’m a lot more relaxed. It’s not because I love him any less, but because I have more perspective. Instead of freaking out about every milestone, I’m just letting it happen while keeping an eye out for them. Instead of insisting on absolutely only breast milk before 6 months, I supplemented with formula in the early weeks.
My husband jokes that our older son “broke” me. The truth is, I had to just let go and relax about some of the non-essentials.
Aidan started acting out a bit after Nathan came along. Part of the reason is that I had less time to devote to him, so he started feeling jealous. We never say “no” or get angry at a tiny baby, but when the Aidan gets in one of his his toddler moods where he just has to have something and throws a tantrum, he gets negative attention. Then he probably started to feel like that’s the easiest way to get attention. We also have no expectations of the little baby, who gets praise for doing every little thing like crawling, standing, cooing, etc.
So my approach has been to lavish praises for every little positive thing Aidan does. He goes potty in the toilet — “Yay, good job (clap!) you’re such a good boy!” He asked for food with words instead of whining — “Wow, you’re such a big boy using words!” I try not to get too hung up on what I wish Aidan would do, but just see him as an “older baby.” We have also not cared as much about potty training, and we’re just letting him take the lead on it.
When it comes to discipline, I didn’t want to do yelling or physical punishment. According to research, authoritative parenting — rules with love — results in better outcomes for kids than permissive parenting. One of the effective tools of discipline is time-outs, and it helps calm down both the kids and the parents. When we started doing time-outs consistently, we saw a marked improvement in his behavior.
We’re learning as we go along, and parenting two kids this young is hard. Everybody says it gets easier as they get older. Parenting is a balancing act, and hopefully we’re doing okay with our kids. We focus focus on safety and giving them a loving and stable environment. We show a lot of affection, but we also give them rules, structure and discipline.