By Miriam Jomo
Being a first time mom is the most amazing thing that can happen to any woman, having to hold your child in your arms for the first time, it’s a dream come true. Being the first born in a family of four, my mom always told me that having me was the best thing that ever happened to her, mostly because I’m her look alike and because I reminded her of her mom.
The feeling didn’t last for long, and things began to change when she got pregnant with my sister and all the love and affection started to drift away. My dad became more busy and unavailable most of the days, while mom managing the second pregnancy became more distant. I could not understand, maybe because I was young. With time I felt like an afterthought, with both my parents drifting away.
Most parents note that having their second child is a lot more overwhelming, because suddenly they have no downtime and not enough hands. The feeling of giving birth and having a second child is not as intriguing for the second child as it is with the first born. And is this supposed to be the case?
What happens when you get your second pregnancy and you have no one to lend you a helping hand? I saw this with my mother. My father used to work for long hours and other times he was not around for close to a week. My mother got pregnant with my sister when I was only 1 year old, and when taking care of me and managing the pregnancy became hard she had to send me away to my dad’s elder sister. Not something that I would wish on any child.
I had a good life yes, everything was handed to me on a silver platter. My aunt was like my second mom, and in her home I was their last born. My mother would visit from time to time and so did my father. I felt their love and affection even though I was away from them and would look forward to school holidays just to be with them and my siblings.
I grew up not having that freedom to speak to my aunt the same way I would speak to my mom. There were things I felt only my mom would understand, only she would give me advice that I would live by. But with time the bond between my aunt and I grew and she became my confidant.
Having a second child means that the financial situation has to change. Families have to buy baby supplies for the first time and change the way they earn income, such as taking parental leave or switching to part-time work or self-employment, and possibly paying for day care.
This gets even more difficult when the children are of different gender. Having both babies with the same gender is easy, having a boy and a girl would mean that then you will have to budget a fresh. This entails having to buy new sets of clothes, toys, redesign the baby room or create room for both and other baby stuff. It makes intuitive sense why a family would spend more on the first child. For a second child, much of the baby stuff can be reused.
Different age gaps between your children really does help. Having a one year gap is okay, kids so close in age can be closer emotionally, but the problem is that you have a very demanding toddler who still has many needs you need to meet. There is a lot to be done, there is divided attention and you can’t pass down baby gear.
An age gap between 2 to 3 years is the best. With this age gap you will have enough time with your first born, more time to read play and enjoy each of your children individually. The eldest child will also have an easy time adapting to the new change and will be able to handle the change much more easily.
Your eldest child is independent enough not to need your constant attention, which means that they may be able to assist you in caring for the baby. They may also help in mere precise ways, for example, your younger child could pick up talking and reading from his/her older sibling.
Give everyone a little time to adjust to the new reality of a second child. Then you can all celebrate your new joy of the new member of the family and the growth of the family.
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