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Having a new baby is such an exciting time in life. It is also life-changing.
Often we read articles about how newborns affect the father and the mother and how to take care of a newborn, but it is rare to read anything about what to do with your other children.
How do you make them feel loved? How does it affect your other children? How do you make them feel like they are a part of the new excitement without getting into trouble? When is it their turn to have mom and dads’ full attention? Where is their place in the family now?
Each time I have had a new baby, I’ve had to really focus on NOT forgetting my other children. New babies are so consuming, and I usually am reminded of that by my other children by a temper tantrum, wet undies, quiet tears, or even loud screaming.
With my last baby, my daughter (age 5) whined, “Mom, please don’t feed him again! Why do you have to feed him so much?”
I think she was crying out, “Mom! I need your attention! Do you still love me?” the siblings are learning how to adjust to the new baby too.
I have learned several strategies for giving my children the time and attention that they need when I have a new baby.
1. When the Baby Sleeps…Put Him Down. Your Other Children Need You!
I know! This is so hard. You are recovering from having a baby and you really just want to rest. It is such a wonderful feeling to hold a newborn while they are sleeping. I am not saying that you can never do it, but when the baby is sleeping, it is a great time to be with your other children.
You can read to them if you don’t feel like doing anything. You can just hold them (if they are younger of course). You can play toys with them. You can play a game with them. You can do a puzzle, color, etc.
Time Matters! Give them your full attention! They need it. They need to know that you love them. Even if you do this just during one nap.
2. Work With Your Children!
So, you’re telling me you have other things to do when your baby is napping. The house does not magically clean itself and as your family grows the mess does too! I totally get it!
I sometimes think, “If I could just freeze my children for 3 hours, I could get a lot done!” Because I have not figured out a way to freeze them, I have them help me. Sometimes they love it. Sometimes they don’t.
I have them help me cook. They usually love this. Sometimes I have them help me do dishes. They usually love this too because they can play in the water. Sometimes they help me mop, sweep, clean bathrooms, pick up toys. They can help do many things.
The trouble I have found with this is that the younger the child is the harder it is for them to do any cleaning independently, and that is OK! The idea is to spend time with them teaching them how to clean, work, and enjoy doing it together.
Many times, my children get distracted by the toys they are picking up or by the water or by a book they are putting away. This is ok too because it allows me to continue to get the work done while they are distracted, and they are not making a bigger mess.
The other thing that I have found is that working with your children allows you time to talk to them. They tell you lots of things while you are working together.
One of the biggest benefits of having your children help you is that they begin to take ownership in having a clean room or even house. I remember my children and I had just cleaned up the house and we were having cousins over. When the cousins got to our house, they did not want them to take toys out because they had just spent the last few hours cleaning. It made my momma’s heart laugh!
A family motto that I had growing up was, “We work hard together, and then we play hard together!” Working together is a great way to bond with your children because you are striving to complete a task together!
3. Children Can Help With the Baby!
This is such an important strategy because if the children are never allowed to do anything with the baby, they will resent the baby! Your children need to know that it is their sibling. They are responsible to love and care for the baby too.
Allowing the children to hold, get diapers, even change diapers (if the kid is old enough), gives them a love for the baby.
Someone once told me that you love who you serve. I have found this to be totally true!
I spend a ton of time serving my children and husband! Guess what? I love them more than anything in the whole world! Allow your children to serve each other and especially the new baby at this time. They will develop a love for him rather than resenting him.
Check out this little list of ideas to have your children do:
- Get diapers and wipes
- Pick out clothes
- Talk to him to entertain him
- Bring him a blanket
- Hold him
- Sing him a song
- Help brush his hair
- Help bathe him
- Hold his hand
- Feed him a bottle (This is if you are not nursing.)
- Change diapers…if old enough
4. Keep a Caring Bedtime Routine!
This one is a little tricky because you cannot always control how the baby is going be right at bedtime. You may have to adjust the time that your other children go to bed! Yikes! I know.
We hate to mess with this, but you MUST give them their time and routine before bed because it shows that you care. It shows that they are still important and loved. They need to go to sleep knowing that you love and care for them!
Because my last baby was a little grumpier than the rest, sometimes he had to lay in his crib and cry for a little bit so I could put my other kids to bed with the routine that we had.
5. Let the Baby Cry!
This is the hardest one for me! When the baby’s needs are all met (feed, clean diaper, etc.), and your other kids are demanding your attention, sometimes you have to give it to them. Sometimes that sweet baby has to cry.
It seems like dinner time is when my baby decides it is time to just cry. I have four other children that are starving! If my baby’s needs are met, I allow him to cry, and I feed my other children.
It might be a quick bowl of cereal, but I try to meet their needs as well. There are times in the day that you will have to let your baby cry for a minute or two. This shows your children that they are important too. It shows them that you love them as much as the new baby.
Now, when my baby cries, my 3-year-old daughter will say, “Mom, feed him!” I know she does this because she loves him.
For a few weeks when he would cry, she would want my attention, and now she has learned to love him and is more secure with her role and place in the family and wants me to help him! It is so fun to see the progress and the love that she has developed for him!
Having a new baby is such a wonderful event! It does come with its trials though! Good Luck with that new baby and continue to enjoy all your children!
Danelle Wasden is the author and creator of www.mommarealityblog.com. She is the mother of five country living children, wife of a school teacher, and owner of a beautiful chocolate lab. She enjoys raising her children, working on a ranch, and living simply healthy. She knows that reality can be pretty hard-hitting sometimes, but there are ways to enjoy even the toughest of days. Check out her blog for more tips and strategies on enjoying all moments in reality!