So in the latter months of this pregnancy, I’ve been freaking out a little about how Lily will adapt to suddenly having an attention-hogging new baby in the house. After all, she has enjoyed the loving, undivided attention of two parents her whole life, and knows nothing different from that.
And while my yammering about this issue one night caused Joe to lie awake in the middle of the night, worrying about it, too, overall, I’ve been obsessing about this much more (shocking, I know). Mainly, this is because Lily’s very mommy-centric – 9 times out of 10, I’m the one she wants to do, well, any given thing – and because Joe won’t be producing milk anytime soon, the baby, by necessity, will be overwhelmingly mommy-centric, too.
So unless the opportunity to clone myself arises between now and July 10, I figure I’m screwed.
It’s funny. Joe, and many other people, point out all the time that everyone who has a sibling has survived the transition just fine, and rationally, I know this is true. Plus, it seems ludicrous to drive yourself crazy because you know your kid is going to be unhappy for a while. That’s just an inevitable part of life. But right from the get-go, your child’s happiness is what you want more than anything. That’s why we parents spend so much weekend time at the zoo, the park, at kids’ birthday parties, etc. You love to see your kid smiley and sing-songy and joyful, and you’ll bend over backwards to make that happen.
But when a undeniable limitation, like a new baby, enters the picture, there are inevitably going to be bumps in the road for your little one.
Not that that stopped me from seeking out advice via Facebook (one of social networking’s unsung benefits). More than a month ago, I asked, “OK, people with more than one kid (of the non-twin variety): I’m now seeking advice on how to get Lily through the “new baby” transition, which will inevitably be tough. … Thoughts?”
A couple of co-workers made some really good suggestions in person. One told me that while packing the overnight bag for the hospital, she included two or three of her little one’s favorite books, so that when he/she came to the hospital to see the baby, Mommy could read a few books with her, thereby signaling that the bond you have with each other is still there. (One of my absolute favorite suggestions.)
Another told me that her parents gave a gift at the time of the birth and told her it was from her new baby brother – which purchased a ton of good will toward the little guy right off the bat, apparently.
Also, I’ve included here several of the responses I got via Facebook – for those of you who might also be pondering this transition, now or in the future.
– Marina was 3 when Jay showed up 9 months ago, and she did really well with just routine, routine, routine; some squeezed in mommy/daughter time (usually a book); and lots of extra visits from Grandma. The “nobody loves me” tantrums did not start for several months and have mostly subsided. In other words, she was fine. She adjusted faster than Rob or I.
– For us, the “new baby” part wasn’t too bad. Even after the novelty wore off and Ben realized Nick wasn’t really going to be able to “play” with him for a while, there was still the “I am your big brother. I’ll show you the ropes” thing. The one thing I would advise, and this applies at any age, is to regularly get some one-on-one time with each of them. I find my kids are much more charming when I can give them my undivided attention than when they’re competing with each other for it. So I guess that jumps ahead a little.
– I don’t remember this being a big deal at all. Just make sure the new arrival doesn’t get all the attention. Aunts, uncles and grandparents are generally good with that. I recommend that Lily get a good share of solo outings with either you or Joe. I think me taking Cordy out to the mall, park, whatever without her little brother helped ease the transition immensely.
– It was a non-issue here until Ceci was old enough to be mobile and get into her brother’s toys! Sticking to his routine was key, and a few months before she arrived, we made sure he had “Mommy and Noah” and “Dad and Noah” activities set up. The hardest part was all the time devoted to nursing… but even that turned into a great time to read a story to Noah, watch an episode of “Thomas,” or play with a special box of toys reserved for that purpose.
– Don’t overthink it – actually that is the parenting advice that applies to most situations.
– When Noah was an infant, I tried to make sure I was not always saying “Just a minute, Lucy” when he was fussing. I made sure I sometimes said “Just a minute, Noah, Lucy needs me.” Obviously, Noah didn’t understand what I was saying, but Lucy did, and I think it helped her to realize he wasn’t going to get all the attention just because he was the baby.
– Lily will most likely LOVE mothering the new little baby. It will surely take mom and dad twice as long to do everything, but as long as Lily is included, she will probably be a happy big sis!
– Just have Lily be your little helper. She will love it!
We’ve also, of course, been reading Lily library books about new siblings, and emphasizing that we’ll want/need her help as a big sister when the baby comes. But that’s about the most we can think of to do.
So if you’re reading this and have any additional suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comment field. I’d love to hear them.
Otherwise, cross your fingers for us, everyone, as we strap ourselves in for whatever parenting fate awaits us …
Jenn, I did the “Just a minute Josephine” thing a lot when we were in the beginning stages of transition. Also had the kids “give” each other presents when she was born. I think you’ve gotten a lot of really good advice but ultimately you’ll just need to see what works best for you guys. J’s reflux threw a huge wrench into my best laid plans for transitioning Rudy, but we got through it and, as you know, my kids are good friends now. I’m excited for all of you!