Toddler tales: Second-time mums share how they did things differently

There are lessons to be learnt the second time around.
There are lessons to be learnt the second time around.  Photo: Getty.

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Once you've done the whole first-time mum thing, there's a whole lot of lessons you will have learnt.

Here, mums who've been there done that share their tips to wiser, smarter, easier parenting.

Simplify things

"I was quite neurotic with my first child. Every time he cried, I'd pick him up. If he coughed, I took him straight to the doctor! Now, I realise that crying is just a natural thing for toddlers to do because they can't communicate or regulate their emotions. If I have any medical concerns, I just call the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby hotline, Nutricia Careline or after-hours GP. I'm also more relaxed about foods. Instead of preparing separate meals for Finn, I just feed him the same as the rest of the family." – Louise, mum to Arlo, 4, and Finn, 1

Enjoy the moment

"I'm much more patient, mindful and time-giving the second time around. With my first daughter, I felt like I was always too busy working/cleaning/stressed to enjoy her toddler years. I missed out on lots of special moments with her, like dancing to The Wiggles, playing dolls, watching her stand on one leg! With my second, when she asks me to watch her race cars/build a Duplo tower/blow bubbles, I do. Most 'chores' can wait, but toddler years are too fleeting and important to miss out on." – Joanne, mum to Matilda, 6, and Aris, 2

Be prepared

"My first son was a tantrum thrower. I had to leave supermarkets (and half full trollies) on several occasions because he literally screamed the shop down. With my second child, I'm more alert to the signs and plan better. For example, I don't take Seth shopping when he is tired/hungry/unwell/after a long day at day care. I avoid the unhealthy foods aisles, and I always take a toy or book to entertain him. If he does show meltdown signs, I play Bluey on my phone to distract him, and buy enough time to finish up and get home." – Carly, mum to Jet, 5, and Seth, 2

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Try role modelling

How standing back and role modelling can help children develop.

Standing back and role modelling can help children develop. Photo: Getty.

"My second child is a sponge – she absorbs everything we do. So, unlike my first, who, until age 4, I did everything for – washed, dressed, brushed teeth, fed dinner – Lily tries to do all these things independently. I let her have a shower with me, so she sees how I wash myself, and now she uses body gel to wash herself from head to toe. Things take longer, and dinner is messier, but standing back and role modelling has helped Lily develop. It's been good for the whole family. For example, her big brother understands she copies him, and so he also acts more responsibly around her, and is even teaching her to set the table!" – Fiona, mum to Riley, 7, and Lily, 2

Understand their unique personalities

"My first daughter is full of initiative and independence – she just does things happily and without being repeatedly asked. My second daughter has a different personality. I find clear boundaries and explaining what's coming is better. For example, I'll say, 'OK it's time to get ready for bed. You can have a cup of water, then a bath, brush your teeth, and then read a story, then its lights out for dream time.' For me, understanding each child needed a different parenting approach really helped." – Naomi, mum to Ava, 9, and Harlow, 3

Self-reflect

"I was quite anxious with my first child. Dropping her off at childcare was distressing – she had terrible separation anxiety and I made it worse by fussing and staying at the centre for too long. With my second child, we talk about day care as a fun experience filled with friends and cool activities, and I do quick and confident drop offs." – Kristy, mum to Brooke, 5, and Wilco, 2

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