Wednesday, March 18, 2015

6 Advantages of Not Being a First Born

We often hear about how the first child initially gets the parents’ undivided attention, a baby book filled with specific details as each milestone is met and, apparently, much cleaner pacifiers. But there are several advantages of not being a first born.

1. Less time spent conducting parental research.

I wish I could have gotten paid for the amount of time I have spent researching child-related topics. Before they’re even born, I spent hours on Consumer Reports searching out the best crib, car seat, etc and then there is an immense amount of things to choose such as a birthing center, pediatrician and daycare. You, hopefully, get all of these things resolved before the baby comes and you get a break from research mode. And you do get to focus on the baby instead of researching the different colors and textures of baby poop, right? Before you know it, a new stage comes and you realize you have absolutely no idea how to introduce solids or begin the potty training process. With the next child; the crib and car seat are handed down and this baby is going to go to the same doctors and schools. As crazy at it seems, this opens up a fair amount of free time. Number 2 may not get as much one on one time with mom and dad, but we’re also not spending hours on research and trying to learn that size 3 month baby clothes typically fit a baby under 3 months old.

2. More TV time.

No matter what amount of television your first child watches, chances are, your second child is going to watch more. My first didn’t watch much TV at all until her sister was born. During my maternity leave, I let my toddler watch Sesame Street every morning. This was for my survival. And theirs. You can hold off on TV for a while, but once it’s introduced, it’s not as easy to take it away. So, the younger child is getting far more doses of screen time and at a younger age. And I am quite sure as she watches Frozen for the hundredth time, she is quite happy about this.

3. Sweet treats.
When we went trick-or-treating with our first when she was 1 year old we went to a few neighbors’ houses and collected a little candy. For a couple nights, my toddler got to enjoy them and then the rest magically disappeared. This does not go over so easily with a 3 year old. She knew she went to more houses and she wants the goods! And when the 3 year old is demanding the M&Ms she worked so hard to get, you know the little sibling is going to do the same. Again, you’re not going to hear any complaints from the child as the chocolate is running down her face.
4. More enrichment activities.
These can be as simple as home-made crafts or helping with meal prep. Once the older child is doing these exciting activities, the younger child doesn’t want to be left out of this fun. And for this, I became eternally thankful for washable paints.
5. More night-time snuggles.
We did a little time “crying it out” with our first child. I also made absolute certain to put her straight to bed as soon as she was finished with her last feed of the day (because I fed into the belief that I might spoil her at bedtime and she would never be able to go to sleep on her own if I rocked her to sleep). With our second, I was terrified that the baby’s cries would wake her older sibling and then we would have two tired, screaming children on our hands. So when those cries began to escalate, there was no hesitation in holding, hushing and rocking her. Anything to make sure big sis stayed snoozing. I was also much less afraid of spoiling my littlest baby. I figured they’re only small enough to hold in your lap for so long and if I did spoil her, I would work through that later. I have spent endless hours just snuggling my sleeping baby (and now toddler) and I have no regrets.
6. A little more confidence.
No matter how prepared I thought I was with all that research I mentioned, it didn’t quite prepare me for parenthood. I wasn’t totally lacking for confidence but, like many parents, I wasn’t always certain I was doing it right. Okay, I’m still not certain I’m doing it right. And I know I’m definitely not doing it all right all of the time. But, at least the second time around, I have an idea of this parenting thing and I have begun to learn what might work and what definitely does not work for our family.
It might be true that the second child mostly has hand-me-down clothes that are covered in stains made by their older sibling, you are constantly calling the child by the wrong name and there are a few hundred less pictures and videos. But the second child really does have some pretty awesome advantages.
What did I miss? What are some other advantages of not being a first born?