Since we have sort of “started over” – meaning we have a two year old and two teenagers with no kids in between, we have reflected quite a bit on how we will do things this time around with our third child, both differently and the same. Our older daughters are fabulous, so there is not much that we want to change. In fact, we are hoping for similar results with our Rainbow Baby.
But there are a few things that must be different with my third child, because circumstances have changed. There are great things, like living in a house with a pool and a roomy yard. We were in a townhouse when our older girls were two. So this one runs around in the buff a bit more. She digs in the dirt daily. And she had swimming lessons forced upon her for her second birthday. She swims everyday, like a regular mermaid.
There are changes that cannot be helped that forced things to be done differently the third time around: Rainbow Baby has no siblings near in age to play with. Guess who is her favorite playmate? Me, when I am trying to accomplish something else. She thinks earrings, nail polish, and make up are regular parts of a preschooler’s daily hygiene routine. It will be hard work to keep her from growing up too fast.
My older girls were fed so carefully! They ate organic everything, mostly vegetarian, and sugar only on special occasions. Try that with a toddler begging for everything big sisters are treating themselves to. Seems cruel to always say “No”, doesn’t it?
So I know it will be a little bit different this time around. This one is just as sociable, if not more, than the first two kids. The future does not appear full of cozy, introverted reading days at home. Oh, well.
I do have quite a bit more experience and knowledge this time around. I have done lots of research through the years and child #3 will be the beneficiary. Practice has taught me to read the cues. Kids are developmentally ready for different experiences at different ages. I have learned that preschool is play. Now, it is playing as educationally and challenging as possible. Parents are directing the play with purpose and intentionality. But I have learned that letters and numbers will come quickly and almost effortlessly when the child is ready. Hopefully that keeps me from wasting time.
I have also learned a lot about toys! I have learned that a giant playroom full of delightful goodies more about me buying what I wanted as a kid, not about creating a learning environment. And I remember being happiest playing with dirt, not Barbie’s Dream House (no offense Barbie, but your dream house was made of cardboard. Lame, honey.)
This time around I am paring down. I have no designated toy room, so I am forced to think carefully about what toys Baby will actually use, both by limited space and by life experience. After all, I have to justify the loss of living room space. I am not afraid to pass things along for fear my kids are attached to them OR that I intend to get my money’s worth. I am spending far less on toys (love you, Offer Up).
We have our toy kitchen, magnet board, playhouse, blocks, dolls and their accessories. Not much in the toy area with bell, whistles, and flashing lights (which makes their occasional appearance all the cooler). We have more good children’s music and more trips to the library and museums. We put our hands in even more dough, mud, and sand because it is so good for little brains.
And finally, I will read aloud even more (if that is possible). I cannot say enough about the wonderful things that reading aloud does for a child’s vocabulary, language fluency, reading level, and critical thinking abilities.
Rainbow Baby will hear even more poetry, more classics, and more Shakespeare than her literature loving sisters. She will probably hear more of it BECAUSE of her sisters. I can hardly wait!
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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