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Living in her shadow

My eldest daughter is a little whirlwind of energy. The confident, adventurous trailblazer that all firstborns are. But does it come at a price? Because at every activity, day out, sports event and party there is a little figure two steps behind her, trying to keep up.

The trouble with being the second child

The problem with being the second child is that by the time you turn up, someone has already cornered the market. They’ve wrapped your parents around their little finger and paved their way in the world. They’ve got friends, hobbies and habits that you just have to go along with. So that’s what you do.

The other day, we had taken our eldest to yet another sports club. She has a problem with her sight that has made it really difficult for her to learn to catch a ball. So when she asked to play cricket, it seemed like the perfect activity for her.

But yet again, it meant her little sister tagging along. So, Libby went off to play cricket and my husband and I enjoyed a well earned Friday evening beer. And little Lia hung around, getting bored and asking the other children around the side of the pitch to play with her. Some did, some didn’t but she managed to keep herself entertained for an hour. Until a delighted smile lit up her face when she saw her sister coming back.

So you know that exercise is good for children. But did you know that as your kids grow up, the physical activity they did as children will have a huge impact on their health and fitness as adults? Here's why.

Shaping her character

My husband and I were chatting after cricket about the fact that he felt sorry for Lia. Yet again, she was hanging around trying to entertain herself while her sister had fun. But over the past few months I’ve seen her personality develop in an incredibly positive way. And I think this trailing around after her sister has had a lot to do with it.

Because being the second child means learning to cope with boredom. It means being brave and talking to other children, putting yourself out there and making friends. Living in her sister’s shadow is just the thing that makes her own light shine brighter.

This little girl is becoming confident, chatty and outgoing. She has a wicked sense of humour and an ability to make anybody laugh. She’s strong-willed, laid back and yet feisty when she needs to be. And she is her big sister’s best friend.

The double act

Much as it can’t be easy living in her sister’s shadow, Lia has made it work. Actually, they both have. Because however much the eldest gets the monopoly on family firsts, after school activities and parents’ attention, there’s always enough love to go around.

Today, the whirlwind of energy and life that is Libby turns five. She’s having an expensive bike and a plethora of other amazing gifts that will eventually make their way to Lia as hand-me-downs. But the best gift we ever gave her was the little sister who has grown to be her best friend.

Happy birthday Libby, we love you – and your shadow.

So you know that exercise is good for children. But did you know that as your kids grow up, the physical activity they did as children will have a huge impact on their health and fitness as adults? Here's why.



  1. Melanie Chadd
    June 11, 2017 / 7:53 am

    Ahhhhh happy birthday Libby.

    I am the eldest child and my brother used to tag around after me all the time. There is 5 years between us, and in kid years, that’s an eternity. It’s definitely not cool to have him bringing up the rear. I used to do lots of sport and be outside all the time. Maybe this is why he don’t even run for a bus! Haha.

    I will always remember Lia’s “last piece of cake” quote. Hilarious.

    • June 11, 2017 / 7:56 am

      Haha that’s funny about your bro! I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember Lia’s last piece of cake quote, she does come out with lots of corkers though!

  2. June 11, 2017 / 8:30 pm

    I love this post Nat – I have wrote many a post on Harri being the second child and we are constantly running around after Meme, taking her to school, taking her to parties, taking her to the after school clubs – it sometimes feel like everything revolves around Meme my eldest. It does at times makes me feel sad for Harri.

    However Harri is so much more confident than Meme, she has always had a buddy in Meme. She sounds very much like your lovely girl Libby – a whirlwind of fun and excitement. I think these second born kids are going to be just fine!!!

    • June 11, 2017 / 9:33 pm

      Thank you, I’m glad it’s not just me that feels like this! It’s funny how the second one can be so much more confident isn’t it?

  3. June 11, 2017 / 9:42 pm

    Happy birthday Libby xxx I’m the little sister too (of a now estranged big brother) and so I’m a little bit biased that being the younger one is good because you have to get used to never being the best at anything and just doing things because they make you happy instead. I’m glad that, apart from having to wait until he was old enough to join gymnastics at 3, Toby has generally been able to join in with most of Ollie’s activities. Sometimes we hold off on things for Ollie until they can both do them – for example they started tennis lessons last week as the age group was 5 to 8, so they can play together. Your lovely girls are certainly showing that whatever you are doing, you are doing it right though 🙂

    • June 11, 2017 / 10:22 pm

      Thank you Maz. Yes you’re right, it is great to learn to do things just because you love them rather than because you can be the best.

  4. June 11, 2017 / 10:06 pm

    Happy birthday Libby! What a lovely post about your amazing girls and their lovely relationship. We got it a bit wrong here as my 15yo has always lived in his 13yo brother’s shadow. You may be surprised to discover that, apart from swimming lessons, we didn’t start doing extra-curricular activities until my younger son was 7 and his big brother was 9. Having three kids in under five years meant we didn’t even have time to think about activities for the kids! Whatever my younger son did, he was instantly brilliant at it, whereas my eldest found everything much harder. He eventually found his niche in Scouting.

    • June 11, 2017 / 10:19 pm

      Thank you Sarah. Gosh, I never would have guessed that they didn’t do extra-curricular activities as young children, they certainly made up for it as they got older didn’t they?? I’m glad your eldest son found his niche in the end 🙂

  5. June 12, 2017 / 7:48 am

    A beautiful post! Happy birthday to Libby, I am sure she will love all her gifts, but it sounds like her little sister is the best thing she could ask for. 🙂 x

  6. June 12, 2017 / 11:28 am

    I love this. Such a fantastic summary of the life of a second child. And Happy Birthday Libby xx

  7. June 13, 2017 / 5:04 pm

    Hi Nat, I hope Libby has a fab birthday and loves her new bike! It’s great your two are good friends too. My second born is competitive and feisty and I put it down to being second (something she hates in whatever she does).


  8. June 13, 2017 / 6:11 pm

    Happy Birthday Libby! Holly is able to entertain herself so much better than Alice could at this age and that is definitely a second child thing. Whilst I was busy making dinner, potty training Alice and all the hundreds of other things, Holly would play happily. Both my girls are confident, which I’m sure they get from their daddy. Holly’s most used words are ‘And Me’, as she is doesn’t want to be left out and we make every effort for this not to be the case. x

  9. June 15, 2017 / 9:50 am

    Aww what a lovely post. I hope they remain good friends. Plus I hope she had a lovely birthday.

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