In the introduction to their book, How to Have Your Second Child First, Seattle authors and parenting partners Kerry Colburn and Rob Sorensen give a good reason for brand new parents to pick up this tome out of the hundreds of parenting books on bookstore shelves: "Second time parents – as savvy and unflappable as they seem when you see them in the park or the grocery store – have all been sitting exactly where you are," the authors write. "They were hovering over their babies, sweating about everything and they clearly remember what it was like the (nerve-wracking) first time around."
Who better to know what works and what doesn't in the tough job of first-time parenting than those who have recently been through it and gained great perspective? Colburn and Sorensen's simple, 175-page book (published by Chronicle Books) offers 100 tips culled from second-time parents, including the authors themselves, rang- ing from philosophical jewels to practical advice.
We asked co-author Kerry Colburn to discuss the book – what they learned and why they wrote it.
What prompted you to write the book?
Colburn: Having our second child! It's amazing how when your second is born, you automatically do things so much more efficiently from day one – and you look back to how you approached everything with your first one, and you can't believe it. We kept thinking, wouldn't it be great if all first-time parents had a glimpse into the ways second-timers approach everything? Wouldn't it be nice to have a book that helps you feel more relaxed, not more anxious? That's our goal with this book: to have new parents feel like they've got a bunch of calm, helpful, experienced parents in their living room, giving them practical advice to make that first year easier.
How has the response been?
Colburn: We have been so pleased with the response. It makes us really happy to read our reviews on amazon.com, where all kinds of parents (and grandparents!) say that the book is just what they needed and really made them relax – and that they appreciated the sense of humor we bring to it.
What were you like as first-time parents?
Colburn: Very, very concerned with doing everything "right." We worried a lot, read a lot, and questioned everything. Rob even made a spreadsheet to chart every feeding and dirty diaper during the first few weeks! I think you could say that we were over-thinkers. We didn't trust our instincts at first.
What is the single best piece of advice you ever received on parenting?
Colburn: Take turns! A lot of new parents (especially moms, I think) try to be a hero and show the world they can handle everything single-handedly. But you've got to let your spouse and other people help you, without looking over their shoulder. Learning to let go is such an important parenting lesson.
Are things really easier the second time around or does it just seem that way?
Colburn: In our experience, things really are easier. In all our interviews – as well as tons of casual conversations with parents – we have yet to meet someone who says that parenting their second child was more difficult. You just have this confidence because you've shepherded one person through the first year already and know you can do it.
Tell us about your blog – http://secondchildfirst.wordpress.com. Are you collecting advice for a second book?
Colburn: We're not specifically collecting advice for a book at this point, although we might soon. Right now, it's a place for us to talk about parenting issues and allow experienced parents and new parents to share ideas and insights. As far as future plans, we're hoping to continue this book as a series, because after all, every time your first child hits a new stage, you're going through it for the first time. You feel like a novice again! So we'd love to do editions for toddlers, grade-schoolers, even teenagers … all with the angle of experienced parents helping others navigate each new phase.
How does your first child feel about the second child being easier?!
Colburn: It's funny you mention this; I was just thinking about that. Right now she's four, but later I'll probably have some explaining to do! I imagine we will tell her the truth: that this book isn't really about the kids, it's about the parents. It's not necessarily that the second is always an easier child – lots of them aren't – but that you become a more relaxed, efficient and confident parent with your second.
Was there any advice you received among the 100 offered in the book that made you think Aha! We should have thought of that?
Colburn: Not using a changing table! With our first, we ran up a long flight of stairs for every diaper change. With our second, we used an ottoman, the dining room table or the biggest changing table in the house: the floor! Wish we would've saved that time, energy and money – the first time around.
How to Have Your Second Child First is available at local book stores or through www.chroniclebooks.com.