Having more than one child is a fun and beautiful adventure. It is also complicated and messy! As your heart multiplies, your children feel the impact of your divided time. Just like mom and dad, children also have to wrestle with what they are feeling and it often manifests in childish ways because well..they are children after all. You can wade through all the feels by finding moments to focus on them, celebrating their new role in the family, and making sure they know how much you love them. It takes time and effort but you can help them adjust and maybe even grow to like this alien life form taking over their space.
Here are 13 Ways You Can Help Your Child Adjust to a New Baby
- Plan “just you & me” outings– Right after our youngest was born, my husband took our eldest to a glow-in-the dark putt-putt place. Although the concept of putt-putt escaped him, the time alone with daddy very much translated. From this adventure, we determined we needed to create one on one time with each child as often as possible. Some people call this dating their children. We have done this intentionally on occasion but as our children get older, we’ll start putting actual dates on the calendar.
- Bring a child along for errands– Every errand or pit stop can be turned into a few minutes alone with mommy or daddy. Recently, I needed to pick up a few gifts for upcoming birthday parties. My husband suggested I take our eldest along and grab lunch while we were out. It was a very special outing for just the two of us that ended in ice cream!
- Verbally share your delight in spending time together– This means saying out loud some version of : “I am so glad I am spending special time with you right now!” Our actions paired with sincere words can make a huge difference! These little love deposits can make the time your child is losing, because of baby, a little easier to handle.
- Stagger bedtimes– Once everyone is on a pretty consistent routine, space out each child’s bedtime so you can have special one on one time reading books or playing a game or insert your favorite activity. It may only be 10-15 minutes later than other siblings but that time together is gold.
- Say “yes” as often as you can– When there is a baby in the house we have to say “no” quite often especially when feeding times and nap times are the priority for a baby. This can be so frustrating to older siblings. When you can say “yes”, do so emphatically. It speaks volumes to their little hearts when you agree to watch a program together or play a quick game at the table. Then when you do have to say “no” because of the demands of the new baby, your child can take it in stride instead of blaming their misfortune on the new addition.
- Help them through the behavior issues– When our daughter was born, it never occurred to me that bringing home a baby could affect my son so much. We had talked about the arrival of his baby sister and did what we could to prepare him for her arrival. His aunt had even given him a baby doll that looked just like a baby fresh out of the hospital complete with a hospital bracelet. Even with our prepping, he started acting out. He loved his little sister but he was having trouble processing all those big emotions and made a lot of poor choices. I am so thankful for preschool teachers who got it and assured me that he would even out. Understand that your child is adjusting to a new life as well. Work with teachers and caregivers as your child(ren) wade through all the emotions they are feeling. It is never okay to hit or act out in a way to that brings harm to them or others but understanding why they are acting out goes a long way in how we respond to their behavior and help them through all the emotions!
- Spontaneously sneak away– I have yet to meet a child who did not enjoy a bit of intrigue. Look for ways to slip away unplanned for a few minutes with your child. The day before my eldest started Kindergarten, we slipped outside to eat ice cream while his younger siblings napped. It wasn’t planned. I just looked up at his sweet face, remembered the ice cream in the freezer, and invited him to come with me..quietly. Before I knew it, we were whispering and giggling and tip-toeing outside to enjoy our sugary feast together all the while talking about school!
- Get sitters- Babysitters are not just for dates. You can get a sitter for the other children while both parents have a special outing with one child. I love when my husband has a date with one of our children. I treasure even more those times when we can share that memory together. Recently we were able to walk our son into his kindergarten class on the first day. That was made possible because of the kindness of a friend who watched our other children.
- Talk about it– Find ways to talk them through this transition. Talk about how grown up they’ve become. Find ways to hash out their struggles and be willing to admit to them that the adjustment is hard on you, too.
- Make events out of the mundane– Each of our children has the opportunity to check the mail with daddy during the week. There’s six days of mail so it works out well for our kids to check the mail twice each week. It’s a 45-second round trip from the front door to the mail box and back but each child treasures this time with daddy. So much changes when a sibling is added in, find traditions and activities that your child(ren) can can count on when so much is uncertain.
- Solicit their help with baby– Find ways to make your child “mommy’s helper”. He can help retrieve a diaper. She can pick out baby’s outfit. They can turn on the noise machine. They can help close the door when baby goes down for a nap. Find ways to invite your children into this new world with baby.
- Provide special privileges– Make bringing home baby a rite of passage for them as they can now stay up later, or do a special activity during baby’s nap time. Allow them to watch special programs while baby naps. Big brothers and sisters get privileges that babies do not!
- Affirm your love for them and their new sibling– Your child needs to know that you love them deeply. They also need to know how much you care for their new sibling. Find ways to tell them how thankful you are to have all your children in your heart and in your arms.
Embrace the Adventure!
Bringing home a baby changes everything. What we fail to realize, however, is how deeply this affects other children in the home. To a child, what comes with the addition of each sibling is their loss of time with you. Kids are very resilient but that doesn’t mean that the loss of prime time with you isn’t impacting them. That is why it is so important to find ways to spend one on one time with each child. The more loved and secure a child feels in his relationship with mom and dad, the better the relationship with his siblings will be. Yes, devoting time to assure each child feels loved can be a daunting task, but it’s not impossible. Embrace the challenge of loving each of your children well.
What about you? What challenges or solutions would you add to this list. What have you done to make bringing home baby a smoother adjustment for your children? Comment below!
Intimacy after one child can be challenging. Add in more sweet bouncing babies, and carving out time with your spouse feels impossible! It really is possible but it takes some work to keep your marriage a priority. Join me next week as we discuss how to stoke the romance between spit up and night terrors.
Read the Introduction here! Bringing Home Baby, Again
Read last week’s post here! 4 Practical Tips for Gaining a Routine After Baby
Photo Credit: Captured Photography by Emily