I was already a mom of three when I found out I was pregnant with my bunso. My other kids were 19, 18, and 9 years old. We were very happy, but also apprehensive.
I had a talk with my children. I was sure they would understand, and even be excited – and I was right! As the months went by, we would talk about what the baby would be like, and who he would like.
I wanted all my kids to feel that they were an important part of the family. They were essential wheels that helped our home run smoothly, especially during this big transition. I also made sure to spend extra time with them. Any relationship is strengthened by good communication, and I always try to communicate honestly and thoroughly with my children.
Are you also welcoming a new baby into your family? These tips can help your other children adjust to their new little brother or sister.
Tell them as soon as possible
Pregnancy brings many physical and emotional changes. Even before your tummy starts to show, your children – who are very perceptive – will notice that there’s something different about you. Once you’ve confirmed the pregnancy, it’s best to sit them down and tell them what will happen, and what to expect.
Older children will grasp the news immediately. Toddlers and pre-schoolers may need more explanation and assurance. A simple video of how babies grow in utero can allay fears that you are “hurt” or “sick.” Tell them that pregnancy is natural, and you’ll be okay – you just need to rest more, and may not be able to carry them or join in some games.
Don’t bombard them with too much information in one sitting. You can explain more in the next few months. The most important thing to do in your first conversation with young kids is to assure them that you’ll be okay, and that a new baby doesn’t “replace” him.
Show them that they have an important role
When you try to do everything yourself, you deprive children of a chance to feel like important, reliable members of the family. Chores and responsibilities build confidence, discipline, and life skills, and let you step back and give you (and your baby) much-needed rest.
At age 6 and 7, my children were already responsible for washing the dishes, cleaning their room, filling the pitchers, and getting themselves ready for school. When the baby arrives, they can take on additional tasks and be “Mommy’s Little Helpers.”
During pregnancy, you can already discuss different ways that every family member can help. Just assign age-appropriate tasks. Even young kids can help fetch a diaper and other baby supplies, entertain baby with a song or toy, hold a bottle or spoon-feed baby food – with your supervision, of course! The point is to make them feel involved and important, and help them bond with their new sibling.
Older, school-aged children can take baby on walks in the stroller, read books, sort the baby laundry, and more. My eldest said taking care of younger siblings taught him patience, and he is proud to be able to say that he can take care of a baby. A surprising but welcome revelation.
Take them out on a date before baby arrives
Special dates and one-on-one time can spell the difference between a good relationship between you, your child and baby, and a growing distance that you otherwise wouldn’t notice.
Take this opportunity to settle any growing worries and uncertainties, assure them they are loved, and that love doesn’t get cut in half but grows infinitely. Also, consider what your child may be thinking, given his age and personality.
I was surprised to learn recently that my eldest had worried about the financial impact of a new baby. He was old enough to know about maternity leaves, and about missing work. Younger kids may worry about your lack of sleep, or how morning sickness affects your appetite. Your kids care about you! Take time to hear their fears, assure them, and thank them for looking out for you.
Address jealousy and insecurity
In our case, since the age gap was quite big at 9 to 10 years, jealousy didn’t play too much of a role. However, younger kids may feel insecure about the attention that’s now given to their younger sibling. Every hug, kiss and talk will assure them of your love for them, even amidst the chaos of taking care of the new baby.
Talk to your husband and other family members, so they can spend more time with your kids as you focus on the needs of your newborn. Or, arrange for others to watch the baby one afternoon a week so you can take your older children out on a date. It’s hard to divide attention among your children, but take this time to show your child that many people love him – and for you to discover that many people will help you, if you give them a chance.
About The Writer
Juggling the roles of mother, freelancer, and blogger, Louisa Mercado shares the experiences of being a single work at home mom of three on her blog, Art of Being a Mom. She covers various topics from parenting, health and wellness, to fitness, lifestyle and more. She’s the living proof of the old adage “life begins at 40” because age and experience have given her solid footing for finding herself on an adventure that she never expected. She talks about how to raise older kids to become responsible, independent and happy even as they are out in the “jungle” – often with radical but proven methods of parenting. Follow her on her website, Facebook and Instagram.