Raising a child is by no means a walk in the park for every family. Most if not all parents can attest to that. If we were to take the term “a walk in the park” literally, there are a number of things parents think of or have experienced with their young child. A casual stroll in the park can quickly turn into an involuntary game of “catch me if you can”, “What did I just tell you”, “I’m hungry/I’m tired” and more often than not, a combination of all of the above. Now take that and multiply it by two.
Although going from one child to having two can sound daunting, many parents can agree that it is also one of the most rewarding experiences – bittersweet, but mostly sweet. As a new parent of two children, you will soon realise that despite being more prepared this time around, having a second child comes with its own set of challenges.
Change in Routines
When Player No. 2 comes along, there are bound to be changes to the family’s daily routines. While parents adjust to the changes in schedules, so do your children. The main difference is, as parents, we are the ones working out the schedules and know how the day is structured. It is important to include our children in this process to give them a sense of security. Routines provide structure, breed familiarity and reduce stress, especially in young children. With the change that is going on, having a constant will make sense to them.
Take swimming lessons for example. When parents feel overwhelmed with a new addition to the family, they sometimes make the decision to take a break from swimming lessons. A common scenario is the child who looks forward to weekly swimming lessons, may feel a sense of disappointment and insecurity when it suddenly stops being a part of their routine.
It is not just about the lessons, it is also about the friends they have made, the teacher who they have built a trusting relationship with and the joy they derive from swimming. For children who swim with their Mommy or Daddy, it is their undisturbed one-on-one bonding time, which at this point, they will likely cherish more than before.
Attention, Attention and More Attention
One of the most impactful changes a child experiences from the moment a sibling joins the family, is the inevitable shift in attention, making them feel as if the spotlight is taken away from them. At this point, communication is key. As challenging as it may be, give them attention and explain the changes taking place. Encourage them to be a part of it, use actions to show them positive behaviours you would like them to mimic (children are great at learning by example).
You are doing just fine
People say that being a parent is one of the toughest jobs in the world and we agree. You work round the clock without a compensation or off-days. Parents wear many hats in a day including (but not limited to) chef, teacher, bodyguard, entertainer, cleaner, personal assistant etc. Sometimes, sitting at the dining table for anything more than 3 minutes as a family during mealtime feels like an unattainable fantasy. There are days when we feel overwhelmed which is okay as long as we find positive ways to deal with it. It is important to find pockets of time to recharge because if we as parents are feeling stressed, our children inadvertently feel it too. The same is true for the other way around. Take time to look after your own well-being as that is crucial to building a happy and secure home for your family.
Every child and family is unique and there is never a one-size-fits-all solution to addressing certain issues. What we aim to do is to share tips that you may find useful/applicable or perhaps shareable with someone you know could benefit from.
You will find a link to a YouTube video below (please turn on the English captions). It is a snippet from an episode of a long running variety show that showcases a part of the day in a father and his two sons’ lives. It provides an insight to how an older child might feel when you prioritise your younger one.
Bonnie Sze – Coordinator
Degree in Early Childhood Education
Acknowledgments and References