I have been meaning to write this for a while. As I am deep in the trenches of parenting my youngest and final child through toddlerhood, I sometimes reminisce what it was like when I was a newbie parent. Also, because my sister in laws (both of them) are now experiencing parenthood for the first time, I laugh and think of the time when I was so much more committed to excellence, like they are, before my children stripped me of all my illusions of grander.
While most of my parenting technique has stayed the same, some of it has inevitably changed. This could be for better, or it could be for worse. It depends on which side of the coin you are currently on.
Here are some of the differences between a first and a forth time parent.
First Time Parent : You wait until the doctor, and friends, and maybe even your mom tells you that it is okay to start solids. You either buy all your veggies (organic) and expertly steam them until they are well cooked. You take out your baby bullet or ricer and smash them all up. You make sure that everything is really clean. If you are doing Baby Led Weaning you make sure that everything is exactly as the book says. You are incredibly vigilant watching as your child gums each morsel of food, anything that falls from their mouth lands on the highchair tray or onto the large plastic bib that covers their clothing ever so perfectly. You may have a mat on the floor beneath the highchair to catch anything that may fall.
If your child chokes, if only for a second, you panic and think about calling 911. You take away that offending food and never offer it again, thanking your lucky stars that your child survived another mealtime unscathed.
Fourth Time Parent : Your child is overly fussy and you can’t figure out why. Only when you look at the clock you realize that you forgot to feed them lunch and those leftover crushed up baby num nums in your purse were not enough to satisfy your child. As you look for something that you can feed only them, you notice that they are picking up food that your older child dropped on the floor at breakfast. You look over to make sure it actually is food, and then let them continue to eat it so you can finish making them something else to eat without them getting mad. You either microwave some frozen peas, or grab some crackers and hummus. You put the child in their chair, oh who am I kidding? It’s still a mess from this morning, so you put them on the floor with the bowl. Where are the bibs? Your older kids were playing house so they are no-where to be seen. You shrug and pull off the baby’s shirt – only if it’s a nice one – the rest are all so stained. If your child chokes a little you actually sigh because you know that they are just going to puke it all back up, and they need to take smaller bites! Stop choking on peas! They are eating so fast because they are hungry! After they are done, you take them and put them right in the sink to try and clean them off a little bit while you call the dog to finish all the food that is on the floor. Just as you finish your older kids come in and say, “is it snack time yet??”
First Time Parent : At exactly 11am you start to get your child ready for a nap. Naps are the most important time of the day where the baby can sleep and you can get some much needed downtime. You take baby up to their room and get them changed. After a fresh diaper and a new sleeper you turn down the shades, and read the baby her story. You then turn on the white noise machine and either nurse the baby to sleep or put them down quietly in their crib and turn the monitor on. You go down stairs and read a book for the next hour and forty-five minutes and then come up to wake them. They are so happy to see you.
Fourth Time Parent : You tell your other kids that you are putting the baby down for a nap. You turn on the TV and tell them NOT to come upstairs. You take the baby upstairs and collapse on the bed. You start to nurse them down (nursing because you don’t want to wean because this is your only downtime) just as the baby starts to fall asleep your youngest child starts to scream your name. They have gone poo and need you to wipe their bum. You ignore them, the baby is almost asleep. Your younger child walks into your room holding poopy toilet paper saying, “I tried to wipe myself but now there is poop everywhere.” You take a deep breath. The baby is now awake. You go into the bathroom to find poop all over all the walls and toilet and dirty toilet paper everywhere. You clean up your child, leave the bathroom and shut the door. Take the child back downstairs and bribe them not to come back up. You go back and start allover again with the baby. Just as the baby falls asleep you realize they wet their diaper. You decide that a pee diaper is better than no nap at all and hope that it holds. You sneak out of the bedroom ninja style. You go into the bathroom and clean up the huge mess that was left. It takes about 45 mins. Then your baby wakes up, you go in and see the diaper didn’t hold. Well, at least a 45 min nap is better than none. You strip your bed and wonder, “where is my downtime?”
First Time Parent : You research babysitters like you are investigating a crime. You interview a whole bunch and when you finally find the perfect one (if it’s not a grandparent), you leave a list as long as your arm about all the things that your sweet little pumpkin needs. You have snacks ready, you have extra diapers, wipes, the medicine kit. You make sure your phone is charged and you make sure that you text or tell the babysitter to text you just so you know everything is okay. You go out to dinner but skip the movie because you want to come home and make sure that the baby is okay. They are.
Fourth Time Parent : You look and look for someone who will actually look after 4 kids and not charge you four times the going rate. You ask all your friends for recommendations but they don’t want to share as babysitters who look after multiples are hard to find. After you do find a babysitter (most likely a family member) you just leave them your cell number and say, “only call me if it’s an emergency.” And you mean it. You haven’t been out on a date with your husband in 10 years. Grandma can handle this – even if she has to make a makeshift diaper out of kitchen dishtowels because you haven’t turned on the laundry for your cloth diapers…. (actually grandma brings her own kit of stuff with her.)
First Time Parent : You buy a little bath specifically for baby bath time. You make sure that the water is perfect and that all of your soaps are organic and non-toxic. Once your child is old enough you get in the bath with them so they feel secure. If they poop in the bath you have a little fish net to take the poop out, then you wash out the bath and disinfect all of the toys. You wrap the baby up in a fluffy baby towel and then give them a nice massage and get them ready for bed. It’s so peaceful.
Fourth Time Parent : You use the sink when they are infants. You have a very short deadline and when water starts to run all of your other kids are begging you to play with the water. Once your child is old enough you plunk them in a laundry basket with their older sibling so they can get used to the water. They get squirted and water dumped on them by the older one. You take the older child out so they dont scare the baby anymore. If your child poops in the bath you look frantically for the scooper and notice that it isn’t where it is supposed to be (probably in the toy room) and you use your bare hands to grab the poop and throw it in the toilet. You quickly finish washing your child. When you empty the bath you spray some cleaner on the toys and remind yourself to come back and finish cleaning them at bedtime.
GETTING READY TO GO OUT
First Time Parent : You pick out a lovely little outfit for your child and dress them. You get your diaper bag all ready. You make sure that you have snacks, diapers, water, and whatever else that you think you will need. You grab your stroller and your carrier. You leave the house on time and go to your baby and me class.
Fourth Time Parent : You pick out a lovely little outfit for your child and dress them. Then you start to get your other children ready. Since it takes 20 mins just to get the other kids to find socks, you give up and tell them just to put their shoes on already as you are going to be late. You pick up your baby and see that your son left his cereal and milk on the table and now the baby is covered in it. You wipe up the mess under the table and go change the baby. As soon as they are in new clothes they poop. You change them again. You go downstairs hoping that the kids have their shoes on, and they are no where to be seen. You find one in the fridge, one outside in a mud puddle, and one sneaking the iPad. You tell them that they can have a snack in the car if they all get ready to go, while sending the middle one upstairs for new pants. They can’t find their jackets, they must have left them in the van. Oh, and the shoes were left outside. You are now 20 mins late. You give up, and either take them all looking like slobs, or turn around and turn on the TV.
So there you have it folks. Those are my top 5 ways that parenting has changed since having my first. Please tell me that I am not alone.