Preparing Your Older Children For The New Baby
I hear it too often from mothers after they have a second or subsequent babies…
My next postpartum was really bad… I pushed myself for my toddler's sake… and I really suffered.
It takes a little preparation (and a little courage) but there are better ways of doing it that are good for mums as well as their children. You can support yourself and your older kids in various ways including emotional preparing them, finding easier ways for physically supporting them and of course, asking for help. Here are some ideas to inspire you.
Gifts For Your Big Kids
Its likely hoards of guests will arrive with onesies and teddy bears for your new baby, which can make your older children feel even less enamoured of the new addition to the family. Here are a few gifts ideas especially for your big kids.
A camera is a great way of involving your children in this life-changing transformation and helping them express themselves. In my experience kids cameras are pretty shitty quality and often come with annoying extras like noisy video games! Just get an old digital camera second hand (there are plenty around!) or often if you have an old smartphone you can adapt it for this purpose. Remove all other apps and games and disconnect it from the internet, and simply use it as a camera. Even toddlers and very young children can have a lot of fun taking photos of you and your new baby, plus you can take some photos of your big kids too! Even better print them out and create a new baby book specifically created by your kids!
Activity books can be a great activity for some kids that you can do together whilst you are rocking your baby to sleep or breastfeeding or simply resting in bed. Osbourne make great sticker books that my kids have loved over the years, plus they have a specific one called “The New Baby Sticker Book.”
One of the most overwhelming things about having multiple children is definitely feeding them all, and yourself! Typically you’ve just got the baby to sleep in your arms when the big kid yells…. “Mummy I’m hungry!”
I’m a massive fan of Planet Box lunchboxes! They seriously make every single day of my life easier! Your kids don’t need to be school aged to have a lunch box. Pack some snacks in any bento-style lunch box (or better still your partner can do it) and leave it in the bottom of the fridge where your kids can reach it themselves.
Simple and healthy snacks (that aren’t too messy!) such a cut fruit and veg, crackers or cheese sticks are great. Or if you want to get fancier you could have a Fill Your Freezer Party and ask your friends to cook a batch of their favourite lunch box snacks for you.
It’s helpful to have a lunch packed for you too!
Treats By Your Breastfeeding Chair
Little treats for your toddler can be helpful to keep by your breastfeeding chair. You can keep a little treasure box there with anything from a box of sultanas to a book to a photograph of your big kid as a baby. You could even get someone to help you wrap them like a lucky dip if you get really excited about this idea :)
There are plenty of awesome books about preparing for a new baby too which could work here too. Check out your local library.
Also, pack some breastfeeding snacks (and drinks!) for yourself too!
Tell Your Older Children Their Own Stories
A beautiful way to prepare children emotionally for having a baby is by telling them stories about themselves. Birth stories are an obvious choice, but gross stories are popular in our house too, like the time my daughter got gastro and sprinkler vomited all over her entire bedroom (including the baby cot!) Funny stories about weaning, breastfeeding and learning to speak and walk help your kids understand all the crazy things babies get up to and get more of an idea of what life after baby is going to be like. Plus the stories make them feel special too because they are the star of the show, not always the new baby.
Get Paid Help
Getting a cleaner, some extra childcare or even someone to mow your lawn can help take the pressure off you and your family.
If money is tight this help can even come in the form of a young person (maybe even just nine or ten years old) to read and play with your older children. Since you are home anyway you can keep an eye on things from a safety perspective and may not need to pay a fully qualified nanny (although that would be awesome too!)
I’d love to hear what you did to smooth the transition for your family in the comments.