Remember the super important parenting musts you swore by as a first-time mom? Watch what happens when the second kid is born.
I was adamant that my first baby would not have any sugary treats until his first birthday cake. Prunes, smashed peas and oatmeal would be his foods of choice. But when the little dude saw that birthday cake on the table and dove in, it was like he reconnected with the mothership. Sugar, glorious sugar! It was all downhill from there. This same kid—now age 20—dumps copious amounts of sugar into his morning coffee. And he can eat his way through a package of Oreos like nobody I know.
When my daughter came along, I offered her whatever age-appropriate sugary things we had in the house during her first year, as she approached her birthday party and the much heralded cake. The verdict? She wore more of it than she ate, and I struggled to keep the dog—and her brother—from licking cake from her face. Even now, in her teen years, she hardly has a sweet tooth at all. Go figure.
Being a bit of a control freak, I loved the idea of a routine for my newborn. So in addition to nursing on a schedule (hilarious!) I felt that naptimes should be sacred. So if we happened to be out running errands or driving home from playgroup and he started falling asleep? I got loud—singing, reading road signs—to prevent the dreaded car nap. I missed a few fun outings and drove myself crazy for no reason, because not only does this kid now sleep in his bed at home, but he’s good at it. Like, really good.
My daughter was born right before her brother started preschool three mornings a week. In the neighboring town. So from that very first crazy morning scrambling out the door, I knew the cold, hard truth: This girl would be a car napper. She would fall asleep on the way to preschool or on the way back home or conveniently just about the time we needed to leave for pickup. The pattern continued until around age 2, when she pretty much stopped napping. And now? That 16-year-old girl can seriously sleep. Until noon.
3. Fast food
I held off on buying my son fast food until he was 2.5 years old. And his instant bond with all things Happy Meal was as intense as his sugary love of birthday cakes had been. And now? He would eat at McDonald’s three meals a day if he didn’t have to pay for it.
My daughter was probably 9 months old when I caved in and offered her some fries. She wasn’t a big fan then, and still turns her nose up at most fast food. Lucky for me, she loves In-N-Out Burger.
4. Toys that weren’t toys
When you are knee-deep in a long afternoon at home and need to run to the grocery store with two kids, your keys might just be the thing that saves your sanity.
What’s cuter than a baby playing with a set of car keys? It’s like having a toy in your purse at all times. But the germs! The sharp keys! I was so worried about my son hurting himself (or getting sick) that I made sure he had lots of plastic, easy-to-clean toys available at home, in the car and at grandma’s house.
Turns out when you are knee-deep in a long afternoon at home and need to run to the grocery store with two kids, your keys might just be the thing that saves your sanity. My daughter also loved my hairbrush, credit cards, empty food containers and countless other objects-turned-toys—and never once hurt herself.
5. Non-regular baths
Babies have sensitive skin and really shouldn’t have a bath every day. But who doesn’t love a snuggly, fresh from the tub baby wrapped in a fluffy towel? My son had more than his share of baths—some of them as a way to kill time.
When you are baby number two—or three, or five—a daily bath just isn’t happening. There will be times when a weekly bath is a stretch. Life is moving forward, and some days a spit shine to the hair and a fresh onesie is as good as it’s going to get.
First baby? It’s all about the wardrobe. Even though we started with a unisex collection of onesies (hello, mint green and yellow!) once my son arrived, we quickly went all boy. Truck tees with matching pants? Check. Little overalls with matching shoes? Check. If he spit up or got messy he got a clean outfit. Again. And it matched or color-coordinated at all times.
When you are a second baby, it’s likely that you are wearing something handed down from your older sibling at any given time. True, when my daughter was born, I immediately went shopping for all things pink and peach. But combined with her brother’s hand-me-downs, I could stretch a load of baby laundry from here to next Thursday. Who cared about matching, anyway?
So apparently with each kid, I get a little better at parenting. Maybe I should reconsider that third kid.