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10 Ways I’m a Different Mom to My Youngest Child {Sorry, I’m not Sorry}

Dear youngest child . . . you’ve been the beneficiary of a much more chill mom.
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Dear youngest child . . . you’ve been the beneficiary of a much more chill mom. Some might call it laziness, I call it an increased ability to prioritize what’s really important.

Here’s what’s different:

I Don’t Stress Out As Much About Bad Behavior/Tantrums

With my first two, who were very close in age, I stressed out so much about their bad behavior. With every social impropriety my oldest executed I conjured up an image of my little toddler son growing up, unable to handle his temper, roving the streets with brass knuckles and a vendetta.

As a first time parent, I policed their behavior and had to be sure to demonstrate at a playdate that my kids were to be held accountable for every little misdeed.

Guess what? The oldest? He’s a teenager now, and a very sweet boy. He doesn’t own a pair of brass knuckles that I know of.

By the time I had my youngest I had a deep realization that kids just don’t get it right all of the time nor can they be expected to (nor do I have the energy to get my panties in a twist over it). Sure, I correct the behavior and try to help them right their wrongs, but the obsessive piece? It’s gone.  Difficulty sharing or a scuffle with another toddler does not amount to a future as a hardened criminal.

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I Don’t Obsess About Kindergarten Choices (Public vs. Private vs. Charter vs. Homeschool vs. Online vs. Picketing at the Capitol)

I put so much thought and energy into figuring out what school would shape my first child and the impact that it would have on his life.

The more that time goes on, the more I’m convinced that the life skills they get from us at home like persistence, tackling hard things, learning how to be a self starter and motivating yourself .  . . those are more important than the gifted and talented programs and the extracurriculars. Those life skills are the things differentiate what kids grow up to become way more than the public vs. private debate.

Needless to say I’m a fan of our neighborhood school. Walking to school alongside neighbors, not having to drive miles for playdates, and yes, often crowded classrooms and a lackluster teacher here and there. Such is life.

We’ve had some good teachers, we’ve had some bad teachers, and the kids are just fine.

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What’s “Mom & Me” and “Gymboree”?

Let’s face it. If you’re a new mom, those classes are more for you than your child. I did them all with my oldest. With my youngest? Who’s got time for that? My older two don’t remember one minute of Gymboree, Soccer Buddies or Music and Me, as a matter of fact I could make the whole thing up and they’d never know the difference. I was the one that needed something to do.

By the time the youngest rolled in, what I needed to do was get a little extra sleep instead of busting a move to these time fillers.

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Breastfeeding vs.  Bottle Feeding

My first two were breastfed exclusively. I couldn’t get them to take bottles. I loved it, and I was also bound by it. My 3rd had to make the move to formula because of allergies. I couldn’t cut enough food out of my diet to feed her in a way that wasn’t causing havoc on her digestive system.

I was devastated at first. I felt like a bad mother. I missed the connection of nursing. But guess what I found out? Bottles have their upside. And formula is a blessing for kids who need it. My 3rd was easier to leave with babysitters, loved her bottle, and has actually turned out to be my child who gets sick THE LEAST.

My view on breast is best? That’s changed to “whatever works best for you and your baby is best”.

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Kid #1 was a regular at Kiddie Kandids (are they still in business?). Kids #3 is lucky to get her annual school pictures.

Don’t you worry though – there’s not lack of photographic evidence of her existence. With the rise of Instagram and mobile phone photography she’s still got her mug saved {in high volume} for all of her posterity to see.

I Don’t Save Every Scrap of Paper

I was a certified hoarder with my first child. I won’t be surprised if I find an envelope someday with his fingernail clippings in it.

The difference in the volume of folders and boxes between my oldest and youngest is staggering.

I Quit Penalizing Kids With Runny Noses

A runny  nose was enough to justify quarantine at a playdate or to get you and your family banned from a family party. I can still see it happening with my younger, newer parent in-laws at family parties. And I get it, and I also laugh. There is a righteous disgust and judgement leveled for bringing the slightest version of a cold to a family function. We’re long over that stage.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want your Type B strain coming around for Sunday dinner, but we’ll all survive your kid with the runny nose.

We Stay Home . . . A Lot

We stay home A LOT more.

I used to be the mom with an outing every day, snacks and sippies in tow.

I remember the day my 5-year-old asked me {rather expectantly) what I had planned for them that day.  He was clearly waiting for me to roll out the fun bus. That’s when I realized I needed to cut way back on the constant outings. They needed to get cozy entertaining themselves a bit more. The reality was that the outings were a little more for me than them. It got us out, I met up with friends, they played with other kids. It’s not a bad thing. But it was too much.

By the time the youngest one rolled around, I had not only adjusted my mentality on outings, but I was also MUCH busier with the general run around of my older kids. The seasons pass to the zoo just didn’t make sense anymore.

Actually, at this stage of the game, there’s nothing I love more than just staying home.

I Don’t Stress Out (as much) About Schedules

Running multiple kids around requires flexibility and a rigid nap and sleep schedule doesn’t always work well with that.  By my 3rd, I ceased worrying whether bedtime was on time or if her cat nap in the car totally blew her nap time routine. We just needed to get through the day.

As a result, she’s been a more flexible sleeper and is even the first to put herself to bed when she gets tired.

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I’m Not That Worried About What Teacher They Get

I used to have a sense that a lackluster teacher could make or break our educational trajectory. I’ve realized it doesn’t.  And even if there is difficulty, for the most part, they can get through it.

Some teachers are better than others and we’re not going to win every time. They are going to have to learn to deal and adjust.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the thing: The oldest, the youngest, the middle, they all seem to be surviving my parenting. But the longer I’m at this, the less neurotic I am about the things that don’t matter.

That’s a win for everyone.


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