From the lessons you learn to the double trouble you face, this parenting journey is always a wild ride!
Try as we might, we can’t always treat our second child the same as we did with the first. For one, we are so much busier the second time around! Secondly, even with the same parents and environment, siblings can be as different as chalk and cheese. And lastly, the first child is often brought up with preconceived (and textbook) notions, while with the second, parenting tends to be more instinctive. We asked some of the sassiest mamas we know the things they did differently as a second-time mum. Chances are that you will do some of the same (though one thing you must have learnt is that every baby and experience is different!).
Read more: The Things Our Mamas Once Told Us
Maura Thompson, Co-Founder, Sassy Media Group
Describe your parenting style: Relaxed! Thankfully, with both of them.
Describe your kids: Eve is quite shy (like me) but Jack is super-confident and chilled out (like his dad!). Eve is artistic and loves art, drama and dancing. She has the warmest hugs that make me feel instantly at home and comforted. Jack is super active (he loves football and rugby) but with the sweetest personality.
Parenting anecdote: Well, I have to admit there were quite a few times when Jack was a baby that we would forget about him because Eve was commanding all the attention with her dancing and singing. Once, when he was six months old, we were going crazy trying to get an early morning flight to Vietnam. My parents were visiting us back then. Jack, as always, was sitting quietly in his bouncy chair and watching us rush around. That’s when I had a horrible premonition of Home Alone happening and I had to pull my mum aside and assign her the task of making sure we didn’t leave Jack behind!
Mansha Channa, Partnerships Manager, Sassy Mama Hong Kong
Parenting misconceptions: When I had my first child I was extremely anxious in trying to be the “perfect parent“. I quickly learnt that there is no such thing! I also never understood how quickly children grow up until I had my second child and realised that time had flown with my first. It made me treasure every moment with both my children from then on.
Describe yourself as a mum: I am much more relaxed now. I used to worry about germs and other small stuff, but children are a lot more resilient than we parents think. I now let them explore things around them a lot more freely than I did before.
Describe your parenting style: I was definitely a little bit stricter with my firstborn (especially when it came to eating veggies) and I am a lot more relaxed with my second (he will pick out anything green in his meal!).
Anita Balagopalan, Editor, Sassy Mama Hong Kong
Describe your kids: My daughter is sweet and social. She genuinely loves everybody she knows (and many whom she doesn’t know at all!). My son is a pocket-sized, self-contained dynamo – full of mischief and energy and with no need of anyone else to help him carry out his tricks.
Describe your parenting style: With my daughter, I was worried and protective all the time. By the time my son came along, I reverted to my natural state of being, which is always super chilled out.
Parenting mistakes: I was cosseting my daughter too much and I feel that’s probably why she is a bit more sensitive, afraid to take risks and keeps reaching out to me for help. Blame my laziness or lack of time, but my son has grown up like a jungle weed. No wonder he is super hardy and self-reliant!
Read more: Meet The Team: Get To Know Your Sassy Mamas
Kat Lau, Former Sassy Mama Editor
Parenting mistakes: I was pretty OCD when I got pregnant with my son. I left no page unread of “What To Expect When Expecting”, I avoided all the unsuitable foods as prescribed by my OBGYN as well as my Chinese mother. Fast forward to when I became pregnant with my daughter. Pregnancy had wiped my brain clean of important and useful information and I took on more of a laissez-faire attitude. It’s not something that comes easily to me, but the freedom it gave me far outweighed the guilt of feeling like I was never doing enough.
Parenting anecdote: I remember taking my son to playgroup when he was just a year old and being bombarded by questions from other parents about where I was sending him to school. I definitely felt the pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” and apply to different kindergartens early on. When it came to my second child, I was more confident in choosing a school and sticking with it rather than hopping around!
Describe your parenting style: With the first, trial and error. With the second, presence over perfection.
Kate Fahey, Freelance Writer
Parenting mistakes: I definitely made myself slow down and appreciate them when they were little more (I changed the way I worked last year to spend more time with them). I also don’t compare my kids to others anymore. One thing I haven’t been able to correct is worrying endlessly about them falling ill. My husband jokes we should have bought shares in Calpol!
Describe your kids: My son is super sensitive, a thinker and worried like me. My daughter is a tough cookie, she’s strong-willed and doesn’t sweat the small stuff! Behaviour wise they are pretty similar, but we are going through a phase of “sibling rivalry” for attention at the moment, so I have to make sure each of them has some concentrated one-on-one time.
Describe your parenting style: With the first, stressed. With the second, tired.
Alison Euler, Founder of Alison’s Letterland and Baby Buddies
Parenting mistakes: Many! I worried a lot. I think that came from waiting a long time to become a mum and feeling so blessed to be given the opportunity to be a mum to Charlotte. Even after working with children all my life, there is nothing that prepares you for motherhood. I think I bought not just one but up to ten items of one thing, such as a blanket, sleeping bag and bottle, when I only would have only needed one or two at the most! I must have been the best customer for all baby stores!
Describe your kids: Having two adopted children from two sets of different birth parents plus the influence of Sven and I, there is sure to be different personalities developing. Charlotte is so much like me, she worries, expects a lot from herself and is sensitive. Leo is like Sven, he is a little showman, but also very cuddly and lovable.
Describe your parenting style: With Charlotte, perfectionist. With Leo, natural.
Asmita Bharadwaj Das, Food Stylist, Photographer & Blogger, OneWholesomeMeal
Parenting mistakes: I went into it completely unprepared (not that any amount of prep work would have helped!), so it was very overwhelming. I was influenced by things I read, especially baby-led weaning. It worked well but my eldest naturally developed a Western palate and it took me time and patience to get him to like Indian food. The wilful younger one took matters in his own hands (literally!) at five months. He fed himself the spiciest chutney possible during one of our India trips! Needless to say, he now has a high spice tolerance.
Describe yourself as a mum: I have learnt to be easier on myself because that was the only practical and sustainable way to raise two children.
Any parenting quote you identify with: “Having one child makes you a parent. Having two kids makes you a referee.” -David Frost
Maribeth Janikowski, PR Specialist
Parenting mistakes: As a first-time parent, I was obsessed with milestones. My son never learned to crawl on all fours and instead adopted this awkward way of scooting around on his bum to get around. I pored over books trying to figure out what was wrong and even took him to see a physiotherapist! At 18 months, he stood up and literally started running. Looking back, I wish I had worried less and enjoyed that bum scoot more.
Parenting advice: “If they are crabby, add water.” This has served me well for both kids. Run a warm bath or shower. It works 99% of the time. When it doesn’t, pour yourself a glass of wine or make a cup of tea – tomorrow will be better.
Describe motherhood: For my first child, it would be fulfilling. After trying to conceive for years and suffering several miscarriages, motherhood with my second child is a privilege.
Lisa Odell, Founder of Plastic-Free HK
Parenting mistakes: Parenthood is just one huge learning curve and you figure it out because you have no other choice! I must admit I did a lot of googling with baby #1, Owen. Things were definitely easier with #2, Ava, because I knew more or less what to do, and thankfully, she was also much easier in temperament and a better sleeper.
Describe your kids: They’re like yin and yang! Ava just goes with the flow a bit more and Owen likes to challenge things. Although Ava seems easier to parent right now, Owen is such an awesome energy to have in our home and teaches me so much about my own self and where I need to grow a bit more.
Describe your parenting style: With the first, cautious. With the second, relaxed.