It's a massive shock when you have a baby and suddenly your life as a couple is thrown into chaos by a little bundle of craziness! You have to adjust in so many ways and let go of a lot of those perks of being just 2 adults. Living as a young married couple in Balham, South London we spent a lot if our time out for drinks, meals and lazing in the parks reading newspapers on sunny Sundays. We actually convinced ourselves the baby would fit into our lives rather than the other way round but how very naive we were!
Nearly 3 years on we've moved out of London, swapped out trendy lifestyle for family life and we're expecting baby number 2 in September. The extra addition to our family doesn't seem too daunting for me and Mr R but there is one person in our family who is about to have her little world turned upside down. D has been the centre of our lives for nearly 3 years and we're a very content little trio so the thought of pulling the pin on the baby grenade and turning our calm to chaos sometimes feels like a crazy idea.
However at 30 weeks pregnant that fourth member of our family is definitely on her way can't and I can't avoid the inevitable distruption, having a new baby in the house can be pretty mad but what we can do is try to prepare D for the changes that are just around the corner in a hope that she'll see having a new baby as both exciting and an opportunity for her to enjoy a new role as a big sister rather than having to share her life, home and most importantly mum and dad with a squealing little creature who quite frankly isn't anywhere near as much fun as everyone said she would be!
From the moment we felt it was safe to do so we've talked to D about the baby and how she will soon come and live with us, we've bigged up the idea that D is going to be a very important big sister and tried to involve her as much as possible when buying new things, choosing clothes etc. So with that in mind who was better suited to tell the world about the new baby than D herself!
As we started buying things we were careful to allow D to help us make choices and have never treated the new things as something she can't touch or look at, it was really important to us that she doesnt feel pushed aside by the new baby and all the 'stuff' that comes with it. In fact Upsy Daisy had already tried out the Shnuggle Moses basket and bath we bought last week!
I doubt that D really understands what's happening at the moment but predictably in her usual laid back way she's accepted everything without any bother, we've even had a few belly cuddles and she kisses and chats to Baby Pip trying to get her to move. I have no doubts there will be more than few bumps along the way, particularly when baby arrives and the reality of sharing mummy kicks in but I hope that as long as we keep ensuring she's as important to this change as everyone else she'll soon accept things and love her little sister as much as I know they will love her.
So if your in the same boat and wondering hot to limit the impact a new baby will have on an older sibling here's a few things we've done / plan to do to help with the transition from 3 to 4!
- Big brother / sister books - we've been to the library and chosen a few books about having baby brothers and sisters - D loves a read so talking about these at bedtime will hopefully start to normalise the situation and reassure D.
- Let your toddler choose and buy some items for the baby and really be a part if them joining the family
- Try not to make the baby stuff off limits as this will create a barrier between baby and toddler and again make them feel ikea this baby is taking over their previously perfect life with Mum and Dad
- It's a popular one but remember a hello gift from baby to toddler - there's nothing like a princess dress or Peppa house to convince a fickle toddler they can be best friends!
- When you first bring baby home and introduce them to their big sister or brother try not to be holding the baby so you are free to give your toddler a cuddle and let them say hello to you without baby being in between.
- Ask visitors to go to toddler first when visiting for the first time and congratulate them on being a big brother / sister first rather than heading straight to the new baby and potentially leaving toddler feeling left out.
- When baby is here they will inevitably take up a lot of your time especially in the first few weeks so try to involve your toddler - get them to help with nappy changes, bathing baby and show them how important they are and how grown up they are being
- Equally it's key to ensure you have some alone time with your bigger sibling. If this is hard for you in the early days with feeding, Dad could treat them to a trip to soft play, swimming or just an ice cream at the park
- Finally try not to leave any old boxes lying around just in case toddler decides this new arrangement really isn't for them and packs baby off back to where they came from - not that my little angel would ever consider that......