In some ways, YoungestGirl has had a better parenting experience than EldestGirl did. Since she was born, I haven’t been out of the house to work (though I do work from home a reasonable amount, so she doesn’t get 100% undivided attention). I am able to make our day-to-day schedule meet her needs more than I was ever easily able to do with EldestGirl, who was in part-time childcare by age 1, and full-time by age 2.
In the following ways, I’ve gone massively lax.
- At 14 months, EldestGirl had flashcards for word learning and the commencement of literacy practice (completely pointless until she hit about 3, but the intention was there) and we practised them regularly (by which I mean, I put them in front of her, and she chewed them). At 14 months, YoungestGirl could recognise Peppa Pig. Not the words “Peppa Pig”, the actual cartoon pig. She also calls all pigs “Peppa”, thus showing me up at the farm park.
- At 15 months, on my days home with EldestGirl, Friday was a designated TV-free day. At 17 months, YoungestGirl surprised us with two latest additions to her vocabulary: “Peppa” (see 1.) and “Paw Patrol”. When EldestGirl did watch TV, it was carefully curated CBeebies’ programmes, to ensure no exposure to nasty gender-stereotyping advertisements. You may have noticed that Peppa and Paw Patrol are not CBeebies’ shows…
- I did baby-led weaning with both children. I made an effort with tea yesterday, and the children’s food looked like this. This is the exception rather than the rule. I remember sending a worried email to TheBloke (TM) when EldestGirl was about a year old because I’d given her a cheese sandwich for lunch and CHEESE HAS SALT IN IT AND SO DOES BREAD AND SHE IS PROBABLY GOING TO DIE. YoungestGirl mainlines breadsticks for snacks, has macaroni cheese for lunch and fish fingers for dinner. She hasn’t keeled over yet. (To give TheBloke (TM) his due, when he read my email, he replied with, “I saw a 9 month old clutching a bag of Quavers today. I think she’ll be OK.”)
- When taking EldestGirl to soft play, we would follow her anxiously round, ready to scoop her up if she fell. With YoungestGirl, I shove her in with EldestGirl and tell EldestGirl she’s in charge. Meh, the clue is in the word “soft”.
- EldestGirl’s baby book is filled with her achievements, which word she said when, and photos marking milestones, plus a lock of hair from her first haircut. YoungestGirl’s baby book has her date of birth written in it, and a bit of hair taped in from when she got a lollipop stuck in it and we had to hack a piece out, so thought I might as well put it in her baby book.
If we had a third child, I’m not sure we’d even get round to registering the birth.