You know how your child can say something, something very innocent that forces you stop and re-evaluate your approach to parenting? Well, 10 out of 10 Izzy Adams because that’s what you’ve just done.
With a simple remark, my youngest child has forced me to look at how busy our family life has become and the impact of second child syndrome. Here’s how it happened.
Izzy and I were in the car, heading off to a concert that Helen, her older sister was singing in with her choir. For some reason, I can’t remember why, I ended up saying the word “love” as we spoke.
“That’s one of our values at shool,” said Izzy.
My mind wound itself back, not to when Izzy started school back in September 2017, but to when Helen started school five years earlier. As in many schools, the kids have certain values that they are supposed to learn. The value changes each term or half term.
When Helen was in Reception class, I could have told you exactly what value she was focusing on at any time during the academic year and we had reasonably regular chats about them. We’re now at the end of May and this was the first discussion Izzy and I were having on the subject.
I also used to volunteer in Helen’s Reception class once a week. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to do this in Izzy’s class.
With both my children now at school, my days are spent either on domestic duties of freelance work. It’s not something I have much choice about as we need the income as a family.
I know in the greater scheme of things these are minor examples. Even so, I feel bad that I have been unable to dedicate as much time to my youngest child as I did Helen when she was the same age.
This is Second Child Syndrome in action. I’m sure we’ve all heard the jokes about how you can remember your first child’s birth weight and kept a photo album for them, yet have no idea how much subsequent kids weighed and don’t even have enough photos of them to make an album.
What I’m noticing is that both children are at different developmental stages. While Helen stands on stage and sings in concerts, Izzy has to sit in the audience.
Both children do gymnastics and love the sport. Helen, however, competes in competitions while Izzy is so young she’s still mastering how to do a cartwheel.
I’m always going to encourage both Helen and Izzy in their pursuits. I’m conscious there have been a lot of occasions recently where Helen’s been a participant in an event and Izzy a spectator.
Izzy hasn’t made any comments about feeling left out, but it does worry me. On the other hand, perhaps seeing a sibling partaking in such events will inspire her and she’ll be even more keen to pursue her own interests.
It’s not that Izzy doesn’t get attention. She does, but the children are getting older and our family dynamic has changed.
Both kids have their after-school clubs and in Helen’s case, especially with her gymnastics, these are becoming a real commitment taking up several hours a week. Helen’s schoolwork is also becoming more demanding and the amount of time spent on homework has noticeably increased. I am doing more freelance work and Mrs Adams’ is working longer hours.
We aren’t the family we once were. Family life does not stand still and we’ve evolved and as the children have got older, they’ve naturally developed their own interests. I wouldn’t want it any other way, but that, in turn, eats into time that can be dedicated to the kids as both Helen and Izzy need to be taken to events and practices and and so on. It’s simply that Helen is the eldest so there was, historically, more time to dedicate to her pursuits.
Izzy was never going to receive the attention her older sister was. That’s the reality of being child two / three / four etc. Her simple comment about her term’s values has made me reassess. I need to make more time for Izzy and from somewhere, I shall find it.
How do you deal with second child syndrome? Have you found yourself struggling with this as your children reached different development stages? Is it a bigger challenge for child three, four, five etc? Please feel free to comment or let me know on one of my social media channels.