How did you prepare your older child for the arrival of your next child?
In this post, we share openly and honestly what were some of the things we did. Both the good and the not-so-good.
We gave Humblet lots of prep time. Hey, nine months is a long wait for a sibling. Maybe a little too long. We told Humblet around the third month about her impending promotion to older sister (as well as dethronement from being the only child). She took it really well and started naming us all her friends who already had younger siblings. If you remember this post, Humblet was the one who started asking for a sibling in the first place. The only downside of her excitement was that she would then ask the same question for the next six months, “is Didi coming out yet?”
When we went for check ups she would sometimes tag along. On days she could not join us, she would ask to see baby’s photograph. How she interprets that white mass on a black sheet I have no idea. But she loved to see baby any way.
Best thing we decided to do?
Solo time. Every day, rain or shine, Humblet would get 20 to 30minutes of her own time with each parent. Singlet would be whisked out of sight and hearing range (if he were crying) so Humblet got our undivided attention.
Dad has bathed her every day possible since the first day she arrived home at 3 days old. And that continues to be their favourite time of the day. They talk about their days, scrub all the bath toys clean and end of with a bubble party. Mum time is pretty straight forward, she wants me to read. Although I no longer have the time (nor energy) to read her ten books before bed time, we still have the luxury to read three or four per night.
Humblet really looks forward to spending one-on-one time with us, but what has been most profitable is that she models us and tries to do time with her brother as well. She often goes over to him when he is doing blanket time or tummy time. “I’m reading to Didi” she will announce or “I’m also doing tummy time” which means rolling all around him while he tries to keep his head up.
We Heard Ourselves Compare.
This was frightening because we consciously told ourselves not to do it before Singlet came along. And then the inevitable happened. We tell Humblet how well Singlet sleeps compared to her. We tell Singlet how well Humblet drinks / poops compared to him.
We apologise to the kids (yes to the baby as well) and then we remind ourselves that they are unique individuals growing up at their own pace and time. Comparing simply causes a rift in their relationship whereas affirmation will bring them a lot closer. May we always remember the latter.
Who are we kidding? Humblet, as much as she is a wonderful older sister has her days too. Screaming and kicking up a fuss because mummy can’t put her to bed. Refusing to bathe until daddy gets home to play bubbles with her. Throwing a tantrum because her annoying younger brother keeps crying and no one has time to read to her.
That being said, we are just as human too. There are days we find ourselves so snappy, particularly days when we had three to four feeds in the night. So when Humblet has one of her fits, while we do not condone bad behaviour, we recognise she is only a three-year-old trying to cope with the many emotions involved in welcoming a new sibling, being always the center of attention and having grumpy, tired parents.
All in all, we are still figuring this whole sibling thing out. After all we've only been parents of two kids for less than three months. This means we need to give each other and ourselves a lot more grace, show both children a lot more patience and take our time to learn what it means to love as a family.
Do share with us some things you did to prepare your older child for a sibling! We'd love to hear from you!