Second child, not second place

Parenting two (or more!) children can feel like you're fighting a battle on multiple fronts. If you're facing a baby needing a feed one way you find your rear literally exposed when your toddler pulls down your leggings. There's vomit on your western front and a mountain of washing on your right flank.

There's no doubt that things are different second time round. You always want to do the very best for your children and when you have just one it's easier to spend time prepping a variety of homemade purées, attending baby massage classes and poring over baby books to check on the next developmental milestones.

It's just not possible to always do those things when you have two children. You're cooking for a whole family now, you've got jobs to do, nursery pick ups and activities to plan. Baby massage and sing and sign aren't appropriate for boisterous and loud toddlers needing to blow off steam and you have learnt by now that there's no set timetable for hitting milestones.

But being different second time round isn't necessarily a bad thing.

It's always going to be tough knowing that you can't be there exclusively for either of your children but you can take heart also knowing that they have each other.

You've been there, done it and have the reward for successful newborn parenting right in front of you. Albeit in the form of a toddler whose adorable moments only marginally outweigh the temper tantrums. This time round you know to trust your instincts, to enjoy the time you have when they're little.

You have the pure joy of watching your children play together. There will be arguments, there will be snatching, there will be shouting but there will also be laughing, giggling, dancing and cuddling. It will melt your heart.

It's hard feeling like you never have enough. You don't have enough time to dedicate exclusively to each child, you don't have enough arms to catch one child as they tumble down the stairs because your arms are full of the other child is already crying.

But, cliched as it sounds, you have plenty of love. The one thing your children need you to provide above everything else.

I remember feeling when Lily was born that I could never love another in the same way again. Ollie proved me wrong and proves me wrong over and over again.

I may not complete his baby book (although, to be fair, I never kept up with Lily's either) but I am his second loudest cheerleader when he walks, talks and does something new (Lily is the loudest). I'm more relaxed about how I do things, less stressed and more confident. He doesn't attend classes but I don't need someone to teach me how to massage my baby, or remind me of the words and actions to nursery rhymes.

Sure, he doesn't have my undivided attention like Lily did at his age but really? I don't think he needs it. I don't think Lily needed it although it was nice while it lasted. I do treasure the memories of Ollie's first months when I was on maternity and Lily attended nursery two days a week, those two days were just for us - and unlike with Lily, I was able to just relax and snuggle. I wasn't rushing out to classes to stimulate him and help him learn. I didn't need to take him for weekly weigh-ins with the health visitor, regained his birth weight within a few days and I didn't have to worry. And the times when I'm exhausted and retreat to the loo for five minutes? I know that nine times out of ten, Lily and Ollie will be playing happily together.

I'm pretty sure your second child won't notice any difference in how much you love them. Instead, they'll benefit from your experience and from having an older sibling to look up to and learn from. They'll benefit not only from being loved by parents and family, but by a big brother or sister. They're second only because they were born after, it's not a race. There is no second place.

3 Little Buttons


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