By Vicki Little
There are countless ‘types’ of parents out there. Helicopter parents, attachment parents, free-range parents — and there are clever names for every parenting style. But if you look even closer at the phenomena that is family, you will find a subset of parent types that’s based solely on the number of children they have. Because, seriously, if there is a mom out there who raises her third, fourth, or fifth child the same way she started raising her first, then I have yet to meet her. With practice, you get a big fat dose of reality. On that note, I’m sure you will recognize these three types of parents.
THE NEWBIES. You can only be new at something ONCE, which is why the parents with only one child are perfectly named as newbies. Their house/car/carpets are clean (heck, even their baby is clean a mere 45 seconds after a monster blowout!), and absolutely every detail of the day is planned, down to which breast will get an extra 5 minutes at feeding time (to even things out). Newbies are easy to spot at restaurants because they often sit at a spacious corner booth so they can fit all of their baby gear, including three ergonomically designed pacifiers in case one falls on the floor, two changes of organic cotton baby clothes, the sleeping Teddy bear, the comforting Teddy bear, and the playtime Teddy bear (all with tags off to avoid choking), a tabletop sign politely requesting that people “show your love by talking to but not touching the baby, ” and a special wrap that simulates the womb with wave motions and heartbeat sounds. Dad and Mom dutifully make it to every appointment, event, and important preschool day. They are exhausted, but very focused on making sure that everything goes just perfectly.
Child 1 Status Points:
- Baby book — Every page is overflowing with dates, pictures, notes, mementos, facts and figures.
- Childcare — Ummmm, no. Haven’t you seen the news? Family may be able to watch the child, but not often and not for long periods of time.
- Lunchbox — Brand spanking new. Most likely has the most recent favorite Disney character. Will be carefully packed with every part of the food pyramid met, all organic food. A sweet, handwritten note and small candy will complete the meal.
- Hairstyle — Very neat and clean and every strand in place. A girl will have the most sought-after Pinterest braid, and somehow it manages to stay put all day.
- Clothing — First kids are the envy of all their friends. All their clothes are new, clean, and trendy.
- Homework — One parent sits down with the precocious student to make sure all the homework is done correctly. All work is saved in a huge bin so the child can look through it one day. There is a separate wall in the house where special art gets hung and rotated monthly.
- Form of discipline — A very structured open-dialogue system where the child has appropriate input in the punishment process.
THE REALISTS. With the second child comes a nice, cold splash of reality. Everything isn’t shiny and calm and perfect anymore because the honeymoon phase of “the only child” has ended. The realists have given up on having a meticulously clean house because they realize that unless they follow their oldest around all day with cleaning supplies, there are going to be fingerprints and crumbs and toys galore. Schedules with two kids have become an attempt at organized chaos. The goal is to shoot for naptime to happen while they are in the car or when the new Paw Patrol comes on TV so they can sneak in a nap. These moms totally get why it is called “baby-wearing” — sometimes they actually start looking for the baby before remembering the little one is attached snugly to their chest. These parents finally realize that dinner out should be something that is enjoyed — without kids. During date night, Mom will check her texts often to make sure the kids are OK, and the conversation will have many quiet moments as they realize their promise not to talk about the kids is going to be harder than they thought. They chuckle in agreement at the Luv’s commercials that say parents with more than one child are more likely to choose Luvs, and remember the time when they only had one baby and thought that cloth diapers were the best thing ever.
Child 2 Status Points:
- Baby book — The majority of pages are filled out, especially in the early months. Towards the end, the “less important” pages, like when all the different teeth fell out, taper off a bit.
- Childcare — Family and friends are the first choice, but a responsible teen will do. After school care is OK once in awhile in a pinch — it is at the school after all.
- Lunchbox — They have to choose between a new backpack or a new lunchbox each year, so they will either have their older siblings from last year, or a mid-priced box with mismatched containers.
- Hairstyle — They are super proud of their hairstyle because they did it all by themselves! (After Mom helped a time or two first.) They actually get to do stuff their older siblings didn’t get to try!
- Clothing — A lot of their clothes are hand-me-downs. Especially if they have a sibling of the same gender. Typically their “new” clothes come from consignment sales.
- Homework — The older sibling is a LIFESAVER when it comes to homework. They know what the teacher is looking for, so they are the best help for child #2. The wall of art has been moved into the kids’ bedrooms to minimize clutter, and only the important papers are saved.
- Form of discipline — Things have become a bit more strict and there are a lot of time-outs and groundings. Family meetings are held to agree on the rules, but after that the punishment is decided by the parents.
THE PROS. Three or more kids? These brave souls have this parenting thing down. Their house may not always be dusted and shining, but that is simply one of those small things that they have given up stressing over. Schedules in a house with three or more kids has become a minute-by-minute detailed plan that needs to be followed for any sort of success (Just don’t forget little Johnny at the soccer field.) The expensive and ergonomically designed pacifiers are a thing of the past. (Seriously, do the manufacturers have a deal with the dentists? The first kid’s teeth are so crooked it looks like they are supposed to come in sideways!) The Dollar Store kind will do just fine, especially since there are 50 in her crib so there is no way she won’t be able to find one and soothe herself in the middle of the night. These parents have a perfectly planned date night … two days after their youngest graduates from high school.
Child 3 Status Points:
- Baby book — The third kid is pretty sure Mom is showing him his middle siblings book and saying it is his.
- Childcare — A reference from the neighbor’s niece will do – the kids will look out for each other anyway. Before and after care is a beautiful thing because the kids can even get their homework done there! By the third child, parents aren’t picky. If someone knows how to keep children alive for an hour or so, they’re are hired!
- Lunchbox — Whatever was clean and can be found. A shopping bag works just as well as a licensed lunchbox and is much cheaper.
- Hairstyle — Does it smell? If not, then why do you care?
- Clothing — Hand-me-downs and birthday clothes it is. And if this kiddo didn’t get his laundry basket to the machine in time, then he is wearing whatever he can find in his sister’s closet that fits him. Boys can wear pink, too.
- Homework — All schoolwork gets done while sitting at their siblings’ activities or in the car on the way to school. Wherever works best.
- Form of discipline — What Mom says, goes. Period.
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, reading, camping, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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