I should probably begin with this caveat…I have three children. I have a friend who has nine. NINE. I am by no means an expert at this, as I have only done it twice. But this is a question I have been asked on multiple occasions by mom friends with toddlers and babies on the way.
My children are all separated by two years. When my firstborn was a toddler, it was the mom and dad show…iindependent play was unthinkable, as was waiting for a snack or book to be read. Sharing a toy rarely happened and consideration of others was often an afterthought. These things became increasingly obvious to me as my due date for baby two drew near. I found myself frenetically panicking, regretfully wishing for all the lost moments where I could have been prepping my child for the shock he was to be experiencing once we transitioned to a family of four.
But I can honestly say, after having survived two rounds of operation “Prep Kids for New Sibling,” it all comes down to one thing:
You can never adequately prep your child for a baby sibling.
So much relies on personality types, sensitivities, and family dynamic. I.E., do you have extended family nearby that can help? How much time off work is allowed? There are a lot of variables. That being said, here are some ideas to help out your little guy (or lady!) get ready for baby:
- Rely on help. If someone offers to take your big kid to the park or to come by and give them some one-on-one time, LET THEM. They are going to be so desperately craving that and, while it is a good life-lesson for them to learn to wait, one-on-one time is hard for them to get with mom in those early weeks.
- (If possible) enlist dad’s help as often as possible. Dad can take baby for a drive so you can spend time snuggling with big bro/sis, reading books, getting in some of that quality time.
- BABY CARRIERS. You need free hands in order to hit up the park and zoo. Your oldest still has the same amount of energy that had before baby arrived and they still need to burn it.
Most importantly, time is invaluable. Time heals most, if not all, wounds. Your toddler WILL eventually stop trying to pull the baby off the couch or carry them from room to room (speaking from experience here). They will have wonderful sibling moments, some day. You are the mom and you know your family best. Reach out to all the moms of multiples you know and ask for pep talks. You got this.
Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at karagaris.com.