Preparing your child for a new arrival can become a priority and something you may think you will lose sleep over, but it needn’t be.
Throughout my second pregnancy, in between being sick and early nights, my main focus was on my first born. How would he cope not being the center of our attention? Because for the last three years he had been. How would he understand that Mummy and Daddy love another baby as much as they love him? I still needed to get my head around this because lets face it, you love your children so much it hurts, could I cope loving two?? But above all would he still know that we would always have time for his questions, his stories and his randomness. I use the word random a lot since having children.
He did understand and he did get it. In fact he is a fantastic big brother and I wish now I had spent less time worrying about how he was going to cope and more time enjoying my thick,shiny pregnancy hair which of course is all falling out now.
So how did we help him prepare for his new important title of Big Brother?
Try to involve the sibling as much as possible
Firstly we told him with the help of an Easter egg. It must be something good if chocolate is involved. I wrote on his Easter egg ” Big Brother to be”. For a nearly three year old this was then followed by a series of questions. The first one being “who is a big brother?” Once it was explained, this then opened up for more questions: Where is the baby right now? What size is it? Where do we go to get it? And so on…
So we took him along to the dating scan at twelve weeks. Some might say that this isn’t a good idea as you always go into these scans a little nervous, but we wanted him to get caught up in all the excitement and include him as much as possible. So there he sat, in the darkened room looking at Mummy’s ever so slightly bloated tummy on a screen. This was the first time he saw his sister. Yes he didn’t really understand but we had got him excited and he knew that something good was going to happen.
Don’t let the unborn baby take over
It is tempting to want to talk about your pregnancy and your growing to do list for the new arrival all the time, but be sensitive to your other children who just want to know if watching another episode of Paw Patrol, while having their tea, is an option.
As the months went on (and Mummy got bigger), there were some changes going on in all our lives. We were having work done to the house to make an extra bedroom for the new arrival. Our son was moving up a group at pre-school where he would start going every morning. This was a huge step for him as I was Childminding so he was used to being with me all the time and had never been in another setting before. We worked hard over this time to make special memories as a family of three; be extra vigilant to our sons needs but without spoiling him at the same time. He came with me to various midwife appointments and scans but I did also try to not overwhelm him or constantly talk about the baby. In fact there were times when we would go for weeks without mentioning it to him because we didn’t want him to feel like he or she (we didn’t find out the sex) was taking over already. We also tried to make sure that other family members and friends weren’t just asking him if he was excited about the new baby coming and instead still showed an interest in his development and achievements.
Read a “getting ready for baby” book
I don’t mean I showed him my “Conception, Pregnancy, Birth and beyond” book. We wanted to get him excited for the new baby not give him nightmares. No, I went into Waterstones where there was a very small section of books for children that included titles such as: “There’s going to be a baby” and “I’m going to be a big brother” I carefully selected the “Topsy and Tim and the new baby” book and took it home to read to him whenever he wanted to read it. To be fair we only read it a handful of times but when we did he listened intently and I could see the cogs turning. I did keep waiting (as did my husband) for that awkward question of “so where do babies actually come from?” But surprisingly it never happened.
So the book worked: I think it was just another way of normalising the changes that were about to happen in our family dynamic.
Get them a present from the baby
This might seem like an obvious one but it really does help. When I was packing my hospital bag, in amongst the maternity pads and jelly babies (for energy obviously), I also packed a small gift bag with a couple of presents that I knew Charlie would appreciate. And he did. And he still talks about it to this day so that renders success in my books. It meant that in all the excitement of the new baby, he wasn’t forgotten. Which of course he wouldn’t be anyway but children do need reassuring from time to time.
So, as I mentioned at the start of this post, I had nothing to worry about. He loves his little sister and although she can’t say it yet, she loves him just as much. (You just have to see the way her eyes light up as soon as she sees him). Because actually we stress about how our children will cope in new situations or changes to family life, when really they are more adaptable than we think. They just need that bit of support, patience and reassurance and they will be fine.