Sunday, April 05, 2009

reality check: from parenting 1 to parenting 2

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I've been discovering the differences in parenting two children versus parenting one child. In some ways, I'm sad for my second child, that he won't have the same kind of attention as an infant that Elizabeth, as my first child, had.

Here are some of the differences I've already noticed after 2. 5 weeks as a parent of 2 kids:

Fewer photos - yes, this is what everyone always says, but I'm still sad about it. I had hoped to beat the stereotype, but I find it's an issue of time, not an issue of not caring. When you're chasing the older child, you simply have fewer opportunities to sit and stare at your lovely newborn while photographically documenting ever burp, bubble, blink and babble.

Less arm-time - I find I hold my infant son less than I held Elizabeth, and use mechanical soothers and containment devices more than I care to. I haven't yet worked out the art of using my third magical hand. So, In order to work with Elizabeth, and more importantly, to keep Nathanael safe from the loving clutches of his older sister ("Hold de baby?!?") I place him in a safe area while I deal with diapers, household activities, and simple things like going to the bathroom. I'm thankful that I have a baby carrier (a Moby Wrap) that gives me 2 hands free. Unfortunately Nathanael doesn't like to be in it for long periods of time - he starts to fuss after a while. I may need to invest in another type of carrier.

Less new-mom nervousness - I remember being concerned about every fuss and cry with Elizabeth. I must be more practiced now, and I recognize that (depending on the kind of cry) I can take the time to finish my shower, or whatever little task I'm doing and then pick up and soothe the baby. While I functionally did the same with Elizabeth, I'm less anxious about Nathanael waiting and fussing for a bit while I finish up.

2 in diapers = using more disposables - I intend to post more on this later, but I find that my diapering philosophy has changed somewhat - I'm using more disposables, especially at night for 2 reasons - my sanity and my sanity :) Yes, I must be a bad mom, but using a disposable on Nathanael means that he can stay in a diaper for just a bit longer at night, which equals fewer diaper changes and more sleep for me. Considering my experiences with post-partum anxiety last time, I'm willing to put a few more disposable diapers in a landfill for the sake of not being afraid that I'll have an unmanageable panic attack every time I leave the house. I also have trouble keeping up with washing diapers nearly every day. Using disposables at night means I can go just a bit longer before I need to wash the diapers. I hope to return to cloth diapers full time in a few weeks. I feel like a traitor to my environmental and health ideals, but I guess my ability to cope comes first!

Less documentation - Already I'm behind in documenting Nathanael's life in a baby memory book. I don't even have one for him! Even if I did, I think I would have less time to just write the little things in his life down. With Elizabeth, I could spend most of the day sitting in the rocking chair, holding the baby and typing or writing one handed. Not so much when I have a toddler to chase!

More television baby sitting - I told myself that this would not be me, but I find that keeping Elizabeth occupied and quiet by watching a movie is sometimes worth it. We have been watching at least one movie a day. I intend to wean us from this bad habit, but I recognize that I am a bit of a lazy parent, and if it will give me 30 minutes of relative peace while I make dinner or take a shower, I'll use it. I want to find alternatives, so if you have suggestions, please offer them up!

I'm sure as Jude returns to work and the children and I settle into our own weekly routine that I'll find more interesting things in being the parent of two. I'm sad that things won't be as ideal as I would like, but I accept the reality that being the sole parent 4 days of every 7 means that there will be some sacrifices for me to manage caring for my children and my own well-being.


Sarah said...
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Sarah said...

I keep a book by my bed that I write things in with dates, like "Katie cut her back tooth on the top left today." I do that before I go to sleep at night. And then the plan is to move those over to the official baby book. Of course, Katie is 19 months old and I still haven't actually transferred anything.

And don't stress out over the TV or paper diapers. We survived them. :)

Sarah said...

I take it back, I had cloth diapers. But Vicky had paper, and she's not too messed up as a result.

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