There’s a thought that you have when you have a two-year-old…and the stick turns pink:
How in the world am I going to get my family ready for another baby?
You have already gotten a routine down. You wake up every day at the same time, feed your little one breakfast, maybe let them watch a cartoon while you get some cleanup done, take a walk to the park, come home to make lunch and take naps.
You’re a PRO. You know how to do this and what kind of planning it entails.
But then the stick turned pink. So your family’s life is about to turn upside-down.
How on earth are you going to allow your perfectly scheduled world to be upended by a brand new baby? They don’t understand schedules and the importance of sleep. They live the “on-demand’ life that you had moved past eons ago with your toddler.
How are you going to make this work?
Let’s talk embracing the change and embarking on the adventures of adding kiddos (and helping your existing kids cope!)
1 to 2: Losing the “only child” attention
As a mom who has now done this (almost) twice, I’m sorry to say it doesn’t get simpler.
When I became pregnant with our daughter, our son was only a little over 1 year old and he didn’t quite get the concept of what “you are going to be a big brother” meant.
We didn’t include him in much of the process, because he would not understand the process until—WHAM—she was born. His life would forever change because he would go from being the only one getting attention to forever sharing that attention with his younger sister.
Of course we would play the “Where’s the Baby?” game and he would point to my belly, but what does that REALLY mean to a 1½ year old? Nada. He just thought it was a game and that mom’s belly sometimes moved around really funny.
This change was going to be the biggest things he had ever endured—whether he remembers it or not.
I also believe that adding siblings has the most effect on the oldest, simply because they are the only ones who experience the “only child” life and then have to cope with adding a sibling.
The third and beyond
Throughout my third pregnancy, I have felt a little different about adding to our family. We already worked through having an only child and then learning to share the love and attention with another (A LOT easier than it sounds!)
On top of that, our daughter knows, and has ALWAYS known what it’s like to have a sibling. Because she doesn’t know any better, her world won’t be completely turned upside-down. (Well, we’re hoping. She’s a smidge of a queen!)
Prepping for the third has looked a lot like prepping for the first—except our oldest is able to help with and understands a lot more. He remembers (somewhat) what it’s like having a younger sibling grow up with them, so sharing that experience is exciting for them. Like with any kiddos, when one can teach something to another, it’s a good situation. Everyone wins.
A few prep ideas
There are so many books that help explain the idea of getting a new baby in the house. We read and read one we chose until the book was completely worn out. Did they both love the book? Absolutely. Did they fully understand that he was reading what would soon be their reality? Unsure.
But it did get them more comfortable with the idea of babies in general.
Show them babies when you’re out and about
Recognition is a huge thing. Even a 1½ year old can recognize that someone is smaller and more fragile than them. If they start to notice babies around them, they become familiarized and more comfortable.
Let them explore your baby stuff
Toddlers don’t remember that a baby swing used to be theirs, or that they used to nap in the Boppy seat on the reg. So when you start pulling out and prepping your baby items, let them be a part of that process. Allow them to play with and enjoy the “new” things in the house.
The last thing that you want is a negative connotation with a new baby, so not allowing them to play with baby items, or help you fold baby clothes will give them a bad taste in their mouth about what “baby” means.
Let them soak up the prep work with you—they will enjoy it!
Buy them a baby
Something that we tried with our daughter was buying her a baby to play with. She loves holding, feeding, and changing the sweet little thing.
This is something I wish we would have thought of with our son as well.
When I have “my” baby, she will also have hers that she can feed and take care and not be as affected by the idea that all of moms attention is on the new baby. We can continue to bond doing these things together, and it will make the transition smooth.
Enjoy your time right now
One thing that we all forget about (especially as the due date SLOWLY approaches) is enjoying our family unit as it stands, before the changes happen. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the prep for labor and delivery that we forget this important piece.
You will never get back the stages of life that you have already been through. In the same way, your family will never be the same after your new bundle of joy is born.
Will it be exhilarating and full of joy? Absolutely. But it will never be what it is RIGHT NOW.
Enjoy what you have already created while you anticipate what is to come! Rushing things won’t be enjoyable for anyone, especially kiddos who have to do a lot more to process change.
Soak up this time. Take in and savor every second. The changes will be here to embrace before you know it!