Do you have a new baby coming to join the family but you are nervous about how your older sibling(s) are going to handle it? I have a 5 month old baby girl and a 2 1/2 year old toddler boy and am finally starting to feel like I have a handle on things.
Well, to be completely transparent, most days are a blur.
BUT, for the most part, I feel a lot more confident about taking care of two humans and not completely losing my mind every day. It has taken a while, but we are all alive!
Looking back, I feel like I did some things at the beginning of my daughter’s life that made the transition for my son to being an older brother a lot easier. I am by no means perfect, but I do want to share these with you because I think they could help you too! And if you have any strategies that have helped your family transition during this time, feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear from you! 🙂
1. Be Careful of How you Talk About Baby
This is huge. My son and I are VERY attached as I am a very hands-on mother. I was so nervous about introducing another baby and having his feelings get hurt because he doesn’t feel as loved.
In order to prevent this, I wanted to switch around my language when talking about baby, both when I was pregnant and when she made her grand debut.
Instead of saying things like, “aww look how cute baby is!” and “don’t you just love our new baby?” I would (and still do) say things like “I think your baby sister thinks you are SO cool!” and “Look, your little baby sister loves you SO much!”
I think that this really helped my son LOVE his little sister. We have our own struggles for sure, but we haven’t really had to deal with Weston hating his sister, which I thought was a very real possibility since he doesn’t have the most nurturing of personalities.
But one cannot deny the love that he has for that little girl! He will be so upset about something and all I have to do is bring his sister over to him and it puts a smile on his face. He is also pretty obsessed with her “cute toes” and it is kind of my favorite thing ever. 🙂
2. Special Playtime
I came across an article that the CDC came out with when we first had Blake, and it was all about this idea of special playtime. This is consistent, child-led play at the same time every day for at least 5-10 minutes. It is distraction-less and completely focused on your older child! It doesn’t seem like much, but children thrive on consistency.
The newborn life is anything but consistent, and when you have older children in the mix it is so hard to maintain any level of sanity, but having this undistracted playtime for your older child to look forward to at the same time every day will really help them feel paid attention to and loved. At least I think that really helped for my son Weston!
Jealousy is always going to be apart of this huge life transition for these little toddlers, but the more we can really prioritize special time for them, the less they will feel pushed to the side and unwanted.
Here is that article if you want to learn more about special playtime!
3. Use Positive Parenting Tactics
There have been so many times since Blake was born that I have felt so helpless. Weston will throw something at his little sister just to see what happens, or he will rock her carseat too hard, or he will try to suck the boogers out of her nose with the nose frieda (but obviously not succeed), and it is so hard to not just RESENT that!
My mama bear instincts have been so strong with my baby girl, and she has such a calm and sweet temperament that just overfills my cup every single day. So when things happen to her that make her upset, it hurts my heart so much! And there was a couple weeks that I just wanted to lock myself and my baby in a room so I could protect her from all things older sibling.
While it is still so important to keep a careful watch over Weston when he is around his little sister, I realize now that I can handle these situations and not over-react and feel resentful towards Weston.
My absolute best resource for you to stay positive and calm is the book No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury. She also has a podcast called “Unruffled” that is equally amazing. She has completely changed my mindset when things get tough for me as a mom and has really given me the tools to calmly handle undesirable behaviours.
As I said before, I am very far from perfect, but I highly recommend arming yourself with some positive parenting tactics that Janet Lansbury teaches, because this mothering thing is really hard! And while you can do things to make this transition of growing your family a little easier, likely there will still be plenty of moments where it gets overwhelming. I have had SO many of those moments.
But just remember, this mothering thing that we signed up for is the most important work on this earth! And it goes by so so quickly. I cannot even believe how big my daughter is getting and I often find myself looking back at her newborn photos and reminiscing about the days of chest cuddles and lots of naps. Soak it alllll in while you have it.
And, you got this. 🙂