First Child Versus Every Child After

This morning I was thinking about how today's nap time was going to be really important because I had several things that I wanted to get done while my two preschoolers were asleep. That got me thinking about how nap time used to be, when I had only one child. And that got me thinking about how other things related to child rearing used to be, when I had only one child.

I quickly realized that I really was much more organized and prepared with just one child, and I have several examples to prove it.

When I had just one child, he had an amazing nap time. Every day, strictly at 1 PM, I would start his spa nap 'experience.' First, I would go into my sons room and set the scene. I would turn on his lullaby CD, pick up any toys on the floor so he wouldn't be temped to play with them, and then I would tightly close his sound proof, sun proof curtains, creating the most relaxing environment imaginable. I would then carry him into his prepared room, read him a few books, giggle, snuggle and rub his back until he fell asleep. He would easily sleep for three hours. With that much love and care, who wouldn't?

Fast forward to today. My oldest son is now at school, but his two younger siblings are, as I type, napping on the couch. The sun is annoyingly shining on their closed eye lids and a Disney movie is blaring in the background. If there are days when they refuse to go to sleep like this, I drag them to their rooms and lock them in there for an hour.

My younger two angels while napping.

Diaper Bags
My oldest son had a few diaper bags, my favorite had his name embroidered on it. I usually chose the one I would carry that day based off of which one matched my outfit the best. They were all stocked to the brim with an arsenal of supplies, including thermometers, infant Tylenol, sensitive Pampers wipes, Pampers diapers, Infamil formula packets with steam cleaned bottles/nipples, Gerber baby snacks, age appropriate toys, pacifiers, and two complete changes of clothing. At the end of the day, I diligently restocked the bag so that I was ready for anything that the next day might bring.

I no longer use a diaper bag. I use my purse. My regular old purse. But one side of it is usually stuffed with a half eaten baggie of Goldfish, a few granola bars, a sippy cup that inevitably spills, some Target brand wipes and a cheap pull-up. Even when my youngest was a baby, I rarely used a diaper bag. With three kids and a purse to keep track of already, adding another tote of responsibility just seemed outrageous.

My youngest son might remember that as a toddler he rarely ate the same thing for his meals as my husband and I. I often painstakingly cooked and froze homemade baby food for him, and regularly purchased the expensive Gerber brand toddler meals, snacks, juices and cereals. Everything he ate was name brand. Everything he ate was calculated and portioned; I planned every bite that went into his adorable little mouth.

My how times changed. The middle child had some of these baby/toddler prepackaged foods in her meals, mixed in though with table food from the adult meal of the day. Although she did eat some baby snacks and meals, they were definitely all generic brand. Oh... and then there's my third child. My poor, youngest son has eaten table food since he was 9 months old, and has no idea that not eating what everyone else is eating, was ever even an option.

My toddler's supper last night was the same as everyone else's.

Play Room Organization
It used to be so easy to organize my first child's toys. He didn't have that many and they were all designed for his stage of development. Many were gender specific too. A toy box and a few shelves in his room... he was set.

Today is a much different story. I now need toys for both boys and girls. I need toys to entertain both school aged kids and toddlers. We have had a combined 11 birthdays and six Christmases so the toys are always being replenished. Now my children may no longer keep their toys in their rooms; they simply own too many. Instead we have an entire floor of our house, lined with storage cubbies, floor-to-ceiling shelving, and many toy boxes all dedicated to the 'play area' that we call our entire basement. When it gets messy, the basement literally takes at least an hour to pick up. Each night after my gremlins go to bed, I dread going down there, never knowing just how much chaos I am going to have to deal with.

Trips to a Store
Another difference is taking trips to a store. When I had just one child, there was no question of if I would take him to the store with me; taking him was easy. I would grab the antibacterial wipes so that I could wipe down every inch of the shopping cart that he might possibly touch. I always brought an extra blanket to put down under him in the cart, so that I could cover up the handle to avoid germs and also so that he could sit on something soft. I would bring various toys and snacks. We would leisurely shop for hours, at several stores, and I always enjoyed showing him off to the world.

Not the case anymore. Shopping with my three kids is a nightmare. I avoid it like the plague. But when it must be done, I plan the quickest, most efficient route around town possible. I mentally prepare myself for at least two meltdowns from them and three from me. I have learned to avoid eye contact with the shoppers around me so I don't have to see their judgmental stares as I scream, "If you touch your sister one more time I am going to take you out to the car and spank you right now." My only pre-shopping-prep is to make sure I have three iPads or iPhones fully charged so they can all get one to distract themselves with.

I joke about the changes that adding kiddos to my roost has created, but that doesn't mean that either family size is better. With one child I was really organized, but I didn't handle change or unpredictability very well. With more than one child I can better handle change or unpredictability but my organizational skills have definitely suffered.

I love that I have three kids and I wouldn't change that for the world. But sometimes, in fleeting moments of nostalgia, I do remember what having just one child was like. And it was different.

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