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If you had your time over, how differently would you parent?

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#1 Kylie Orr

Posted 19 September 2011 - 12:37 PM

The baby of the family is often considered the spoilt one. For solid reason. The parents are out of puff by the time they get to the last born. All their parental energy and discipline is exhausted on the firstborn, any remnant is then depleted with additional children.

Perhaps, as parents, they've succumbed to the clichés of picking their battles and not sweating the small stuff but from the older child’s point of view it can seem like a loosening of apron strings; a granting of freedom they were not so generously afforded.

I compare how I parented my firstborn, to how my fourth child is being raised and almost shudder.

I see how anal I was with the first. When it came to food and toys I rarely gave him anything outside the recommendations for his age. I followed all the guidelines for age appropriate development and was keen to see if he was meeting milestones. I attended every maternal and child health nurse appointment, as scheduled, diligently listening to the advice and painfully taking on board the judgement. I read my firstborn an excessive amount of books each day, because I could. TV watching was limited to Playschool twice a day, because I deemed it educational. He was always nicely dressed with matching bibs. And he was usually clean!

Unfortunately the areas I should have been more attentive to, I wasn’t. My need to socialise during the day worked to both our detriment - all that running around fuelled his sleep resistance. Declining an offer to meet a friend never occurred to me, even if the catch up was an hour’s drive away, right when he was due for a sleep. I craved adult company to ward off the often-isolated feeling of being at home with a small baby and repeatedly paid for it later in the day as he screamed with over-tiredness.

There couldn’t be a starker contrast with my fourth (and last) child. The term “being dragged up” has been bandied about and although I wouldn’t use that phrase to describe her first nine months of life, I can confidently say I’ve been more relaxed in most areas.

Take her start on solids: she was fed a lolly by her two-year-old brother when she was five weeks old. It’s OK, I retrieved it before she choked, and was able to wipe away the bright red food colouring on her lower lip. I’m pretty certain sugar is not suggested for newborns, but I don’t check the food lists much any more.  She was definitely eating finger food much earlier than her brothers, because she has the benefit of three “feeders” who happily offload the least desirable items on their dinner plates to her highchair tray. She plays with whatever toys happen to be lying around on the floor, although I ensure tiny lego pieces are not within reach (not always successfully). I’ve missed a couple of maternal and child health nurse appointments but I’m relatively sure the baby’s on par with her peers. She is dunked in a bath with her brothers every second day, and starts off the day in clean clothes.

Some may examine from the outside and think perhaps I’m too relaxed, bordering on negligent, but I beg to differ. I’ve wised up in my parenting old age and finally figured out (most) of what matters. The rest I blow to the wind. I’ve ditched “should” from my vocabulary and learnt to go with the flow.

Except for sleep.

After three non-sleepers, I know all too well the value of sleep and giving babies every opportunity to catch some winks. I’m no longer a slave to my social desires, but cater my outings around the baby’s sleeps, something I thought I would never do. I discovered the hard way that my children just do not sleep in prams or cars, instead screaming their little lungs out until they collapse from exhaustion hours later. Doesn’t make for a pleasurable café visit.

It has only been eight years since I had my first son so I am by no means an expert. In that time, through painful trial and error, I've assessed what works for each child and what doesn’t. It has been a slow and steady slackening of rules, and dropping of standards. My expectations of good behaviour and high achievement stand the same for the four of them, and I am a little too obsessive about being fair to all, but I’m now a realist rather than an idealist.

The most life-changing lesson for me has been to cease worrying about what others think of my parenting style. Instead I’ve listened more closely to what my children truly need. This has been pivotal.

I’ve many years of parenting left, and I know the real tests are approaching. No doubt how my first son exits his teens will be vastly different from how my last-born does. And she’ll have her brothers to thank or blame for paving the path.

If you had your time over, what would you do differently? Can you see a difference between how you have parented (or are parenting) your first and last child?


Edited by Kylie Orr, 20 September 2011 - 01:08 PM.

#2 Ailime

Posted 22 September 2011 - 12:22 PM

I am afraid that I am "not so qualified" to answer the question, but I enjoy reading this article and have forwarded it to a friend who I think will benefit from reading it.

#3 Kylie Orr

Posted 22 September 2011 - 07:56 PM

Ailime - I'm sure you're more than qualified parenting two 5 year olds! If you had a new baby now, would there be some things you may do differently compared to when you brought your twins home five years ago?

Thanks for forwarding onto your friend  original.gif

#4 Charli73

Posted 22 September 2011 - 08:05 PM

will keep this article in mind when number 2 comes along, great article...

#5 me_n_my_kidz

Posted 22 September 2011 - 08:09 PM

I am definitely different with number four. With my first I was very much a follow the rules kind of mum and would stress when things weren't going the 'right' way. Now with number four I just go with the flow, he joins in the games the other kids play - he too had lollies at a very early age, at six months he was crying and crying in the car as he was tired after I had taken them all to a birthday party and suddenly he stopped. I turned around and saw him happily sucking on a lollipop and DS2 said to me "what? he likes it"

I think I have just learned that relaxing and letting him just be won't kill him or affect his development - just having 3 older siblings is enough stimulation for a young boy. There are also a whole bunch of things that babies do that when you come to it fourth time around you don't battle as you know you will lose everytime lol.  I was strict on what age they needed to give up bottles and dummies etc, I was worried about being seen as a bad parent but now I just don't care anymore, I know my kids, I know what right for them - they are well cared for and loved, all very healthy and happy so anyone who wants to suggest otherwise can go and take a running jump!

#6 seayork2002

Posted 22 September 2011 - 08:14 PM

I would not change a thing.........not because I am/we are "perfect" but because I cam honestly say we have no regrets and have no issues with any of our decisions.....we can look at ourselves and our son (mind you we are not having any more) and say we always have and will try our best...we could not ask for anything else.

#7 Luckyinlove

Posted 22 September 2011 - 08:14 PM

Having only been a parent for 14 months - here's my input.
Not to stress SO much in the early newborn 0-6 month stage about where or how they sleep. Whether it's fed, rocked, cuddled or held to sleep, in a basinett, in a cot, waking after 1 sleep cycle etc. Eventually, with a little help from us, they will catch on & learn to love sleep. I've always put huge focus on sleep, carefully moving from 4 to 3 to 2  & now down to 1 day sleep, I never went out when he was due for a nap (maybe too excessively) but he has always been a pretty good sleeper, so maybe I did a good thing, but then again maybe it's why he doesn't sleep in the pram & will only nod off for 10-20 mins in the car? At least now on 1 day sleep we can go out 7-11 am & again 1-6 pm so life is very easy!
I wouldn't stress SO much about losing myself & my life to motherhood, once the first 12 months are past, I've found it easier to do my own thing, felt more comfortable leaving our son with inlaws to go do things etc.
So, so far, not a whole lot I'd change.. I'm pretty relaxed & have been blessed with a happy relaxed baby.
Ask me again in ten years wink.gif

#8 CupcakeMonster

Posted 26 September 2011 - 07:32 PM

I've reported that post in  case anyone is wondering
And it's gone!

Edited by CupcakeMonster, 26 September 2011 - 07:32 PM.

#9 Ianthe

Posted 26 September 2011 - 07:35 PM

I have definitely enjoyed my fourth and fifth babies more than more older three. I am just more aware of how quickly the time goes and what battles are important to fight and what aren't.

I have a lot of regrets about how I parented my first son. He is an unusual little person and I was so worried about him when he was younger, I wish I had appreciated his uniqueness more and channelled his energy more positively.

#10 chrisharry

Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:53 AM

i have 2 adult children,24&22 and they are great and i'm very proud of how they have turned out.I'm also an older mum-48 with a 3yr old,
mmm what do i do differently,not much,although the big one would have to be i dont stress over the little stuff,if he doesnt want to eat much dinner well thats ok i know what he's eaten through out the day and at times i dont eat much at dinner time so thats ok,i find because he doesnt have a younger sibling i do spend more time doing crafts etc,which can be time consuming but thats ok i dont stress about the h/work haha,i tend to listen to him more ,listen to his feelings and more aware of what his talking about,other than that not much

#11 my serenity

Posted 27 September 2011 - 10:01 AM

Nope not a thing original.gif im not perfect but no parent or pareting style is .
At the end of the day I so far have 3 well adjusted happy healthy kids and thats all that matters original.gif

only to add.... maybe not scream so much Tounge1.gif

#12 Dub74

Posted 27 September 2011 - 10:06 AM

If I had my time over I would not have put my son into childcare until he was around 3 yrs old.  It has only been recently that I really looked back on things and have seen what a huge stress childcare has added to our lives.  The constant sicknesses, and resulting time off work, has put a huge amount of stress on me .. I hate been the 'slack mum' worker who always is having time off due to a sick child.  

#13 Tomahawk

Posted 27 September 2011 - 10:17 AM

QUOTE (Dub74 @ 27/09/2011, 10:06 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If I had my time over I would not have put my son into childcare until he was around 3 yrs old.  It has only been recently that I really looked back on things and have seen what a huge stress childcare has added to our lives.  The constant sicknesses, and resulting time off work, has put a huge amount of stress on me .. I hate been the 'slack mum' worker who always is having time off due to a sick child.

Don't be so hard on yourself, I'm sure you did and are doing your best. We all have things wink.gif

#14 mummahh

Posted 27 September 2011 - 10:44 AM

I was actually more easy-going with my first.

She was a very easy baby and I worked full-time so she just kind of went with the flow.

When my youngest was born I was not working and I was a single parent - therefore he was pretty much the centre of my universe. I lived and breathed "baby" - reading charts, books, and hey, I even found EB!

Not sure what I would change though. If anything it would just be to not worry about all the endless amounts of baby "stuff". And try to last longer with breastfeeding which I think would have helped DS not get sick so often.

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