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How a Second Child Allows You to Loosen Up

How My Second Child Taught Me to Loosen Up a Bit

I've always considered myself to be Type A-ish. I don't have my books arranged by size and color or anything, but I do like things to be in their place, and I prefer to have a consistent flow to my days. Nowadays, with a 3-year-old and 4-month-old to care for, my life is anything but organized and consistent.

I didn't realize just how regimented my life was when I had only one baby to hold until I was reminiscing through his baby book. I had recorded exactly what times he took his daily naps, how often he ate, and his nighttime routine. We were always home for bedtime and I dreaded going out around naptime for fear he would fall asleep in the car and miss napping in his crib. Naptime was mommy time; I would clean the house, write, or just take a shower in peace. I was also super-anxious about nursing in public. I was so worried about being covered and finding a quiet, private spot that I preferred to nurse at home.

I had to laugh a little bit at the stark differences I observed between my life back then and my new life as a mommy of two. Any semblance of a schedule pretty much went out the window as soon as my second baby was born.

Even at 4 months, most of my younger son's naps happen on my chest, in the car, or even in a shopping cart while I pick up the week's groceries. He's even been known to fall asleep on his play mat while the rest of us are making breakfast and getting ready for the day ahead. If you asked me right now, I could not tell you what times he naps or how many naps he takes each day. I have absolutely no idea, but I really don't care, either. He sleeps when he is tired and he is generally a pretty happy baby.

Once you make the jump to two or more kids, you've gotta learn to roll with the punches.

Once you make the jump to two or more kids, you've gotta learn to roll with the punches.

As far as nursing, I am pretty sure most of the city has seen my breasts at this point. After spending a few weeks at home recovering from my C-section, I now try to get out of the house most days so my older son can go to the park or the museum or just to Target to look at Star Wars toys. That being the case, I've nursed just about anywhere and everywhere. Even at home, breastfeeding isn't the relaxing bonding experience it was with my older son. You can often find me playing Candy Land or dueling lightsabers with a baby attached to my breast — the mommy version of multi-tasking.

Naturally, there are other areas where I've had to let loose a bit, too. I miss all the quiet cuddle time I had with my older son, and I try to soak up as much as I can with my new baby. This usually means turning on a movie for my older son so we can all snuggle up on the couch together. I used to have much stronger feelings about screen time, but if screen time means cuddle time then I am all for it.

I haven't figured out if my older son is purposely taking advantage of my being indisposed while caring for his baby brother, but he certainly gets away with a lot more than he used to. Sometimes it's because I am physically unable to get up and stop him from eating four pieces of bread as a snack, but other times I simply don't have the mental energy to tell him no. This has resulted in a few more messes than I would like, but I'm learning to go with the flow and focus on what is really important to me: my family's happiness (that includes my own, by the way!).

So what does that happiness look like now? It looks like brushing off the well-meaning advice and doing what works for our family. It looks like letting the laundry pile up for a few days so I can spend time with my kids. It looks like throwing the schedule out the window and letting my baby sleep when he is tired and eat when he is hungry.

I always thought having a second baby would be more stressful for me, but now that I am learning to adjust and ignore my old rules in favor of simplicity and flexibility, I am happier and more relaxed than ever.

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