Every time we bring a child home, it’s an adjustment, especially for the older kids. I thought I’d share some things we have done to help adjusting to the new family dynamic.
Disclaimer: Not all these suggestions will work for you, your family, your child. Everyone is different, each parent is different, each child is different, each family dynamic is different. Sometimes you just gotta figure it out.
It’s a group effort
This mentality of “group effort” is needed in any family I think. Family life does not revolve around any one person. It can’t in order to function properly. So, when a new member of the family comes in, it’s really a group effort to figure out how everyone fits in and is an active part of the family.
This new baby is not “mommy’s baby”, it is “our baby”
This idea was given to us by our pediatrician, and it’s the concept the follows the “group effort” mentality in that everyone helps take care of Baby.
Now, obviously Mom and Dad do the more important things like feed baby, change baby’s diapers, pick up baby, and such so on. But! Letting the older kids participate in taking care of baby helps a lot. It gives time to develop relationships between the siblings, it gives the older kids a sense of responsibility, it helps teach baby who they’re people are.
How is this practically done?
Here are some ideas of how to get the older kids participating in taking care of baby, most of these ideas will work for any age, but use your own discretion and knowledge of what your kids are capable of:
- Tummy Time Focus – It can help baby to have someone to look at during tummy time, and sometimes Mommy doesn’t want to get all the way down on the floor! The older kids love to be the one baby looks at. Now that my kids are older, I even let them (with my observation) have baby to tummy time on their tummy, “belly to belly” as it were.
- Wake Up Time’s “First Face” – This is a favorite for us. Everyone loves that fresh, wake up smile! I make sure it been long enough for nap time, or it’s a good time to wake up in the morning, or whatever.
- Quiet Monitor – This is really just me implementing the reminder to be quiet while baby sleeps. I focus it more on teaching an awareness of another person’s needs, rather than my own strict rule. So, it’s more than just “be quiet” but “help baby sleep by being quiet around his room, and go be loud somewhere else until he wakes up”.
- Mommy’s Gofer – I will send the kids to go things for me, or go get things for me, while I do the “more important things” of feeding and changing baby. I’ve had them go get my water bottle while I nurse, get something from the diaper bag, pull out a new outfit when baby needs a change of clothes, etc.
- Toy Retriever – This may be a lazy mom hack, but instead of picking up toys myself when baby drops (or throws) them, I have one of the siblings pick it up. If then baby makes a game out of throwing the toy, it’s a game with a sibling (and not me)!
- Supply Checker – I do this with my older kids, and have them help me check on how many diapers or wipes or whatever I have at the changing station in my room, or in the diaper bag. It’s just another way for them to help me, and participate in caring for and thinking of someone (their sibling) who cannot care for themselves in this way.
- Entertainer – This is how I get the dishes done and the laundry folded! I ask one of the kids to talk/play with baby so I can do what I need to do around the house.
All these have been helpful for me also as a Mom to remember that it’s not just me adjusting to having a baby (again!), but my other kids too. It helps me distribute my attention to all my children, even while the baby takes up a lot, I can still include my older kids too.
Soli Deo Gloria