My elder son, A, was only 2.5 years old when I was blessed with my younger bundle of joy. Right from the beginning of my 1st pregnancy till his 2.5 years, everything was out of BabyCentre, What to Expect, other internet sources and my very own parenting guide -my elder sister (whose twins were 6 years old at that time). I spent hours reading these books, articles and hanging around the Baby Centre birth board to connect with other moms-to-be and their experiences. From feeding and weaning to skin care to toys and equipment, everything was researched and then applied.
Then I fell pregnant again and I was a completely different mom-to-be. My life still revolved around my older one who was going through major changes in his life, like the “terrible twos”, joining a playschool (which meant he had to be away from his mommy for hours at a time for the first time in his life), potty training, mommy telling him that she couldn’t carry him around for long now, etc. I hardly had any time in the day where I thought of the growing life in me, let alone spend hours on the Baby Centre birth boards.
I was like a know-it-all this time around!
Baby P was born and I did not even have the time to feel post-partum depression or the negative effects of the initial breast-feeding phase, that I had felt the first time…I was attending to the older one, A, with all my mental energy (thankfully he loves to sit in one place and play), while being there for the newborn, P, physically.
My parenting approach has been so different in both cases, for example
1. A had his play-gym and so many other toys to stimulate his mind, eye movement, hand coordination, motor skills etc. right from the very beginning.
When P was born, A would want to play with his toys too and with the fear of him hurting his younger brother, we would just take the toys away. P’s favorite toy to watch all day and to help him learn all the skills has been his older brother!
2. When it came to weaning and feeding solids, I made three special meals a day for A, with the butternut squashes and parsnips, with recipes right out of an Annabel Karmel book. I got him to start eating the family’s everyday food only at the age of 2.
In P’s case, he was always interested in what his older brother was eating and was onto our “adult” food by the age of 1 itself. He is a very poor and fussy eater so it works best if he eats by imitating his brother. Now I just make sure that all the healthy stuff goes onto both their plates with our homestyle recipes.
3. In terms of cutlery and tableware, during A’s time I loved going to the stores to buy a different variety almost every week, more to satisfy my own whims, I admit. Soon, I realised that plastic is after all plastic, with or without BPA and cannot be healthier than the traditional stainless steel tableware used by most Indian households. P has only had stainless steel tableware and I couldn’t be more glad for my choice this time.
4. When A started to walk, the apartment was baby-proofed as much as we could, and thankfully he was quick to learn what was not right for him.
With P, no baby-proofing whatsoever, as A would anyway show him the hacks to get around them or to take off the safety features altogether. P is mostly upto a lot of mischief climbing furniture and opening drawers, spilling water from the dispenser, etc. We stop him and tell him not to repeat those actions, but it seems like he replies with a “I will get back to this as soon as you turn your back mommy” look. However, A, being the wonderful older brother that he is, is always on high alert to watch out for his brother and call out to us when mischief prevails.
The second time around I’ve had a more “been there, done that” outlook and knowing what to expect with each passing month and milestone has only made the journey less stressful this time around. However, attending to the physical and emotional needs of two little boys at the same time can be quite challenging at times.
I have come to realise that my parenting approach is different the second time around not just because of the experience I’ve had, but also because I am raising two different individuals who are poles apart in most ways but exactly the same in the love that I feel for them..now and forever!