Four Ways To Include Older Siblings
One of the most positive mojo business pairings I know is Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann of TheMotherhood.com. Personally, I adore spending face time with both of these lovely ladies, and Emily and Cooper's work is all about fostering community and conversation around parenthood. It seemed only natural for today's four favorites guest post to ask them about four ways to include older siblings in the arrival of a new sibling. They actually go beyond the four tips and offer a plethora of community ideas drawn from some of their live web chats.
From Cooper & Emily:
We're so thrilled to be a part of this very special moment in Christine's life by sharing some of what we've learned over the years. There are so many details to think through when bringing a new baby home, and one of the most important is how to include older siblings in the big event. We've got six kids between us, so when it comes to getting the older kids ready for their new brother or sister, we've been there!
TheMotherhood.com community has been there too, and so we looked back at conversations we've had on TheMotherhood.com over the last few months to see what pearls of wisdom we could find on older siblings and a new baby. There were, of course, some wonderful pieces of insight and advice and below we share some of our favorites.
"My boys have always been eager to be helpers, so I just made sure my oldest knew how important his help was to me during those first few months ... I don't know if I just got lucky, but I never had any real jealousy issues between my oldest and my second one." (AmberLynn)
"Well...there's want and need, right? You have a good balance for your first two, right. They have to share, but they get their moments. Babies just need more, and they need a lot. My husband pitched in with the older and really bonded. And by the time that need dissipated, I was able to better ease in to getting them the attention they want. And honestly...no long-term damage! :) It feels intense in the moment, but from down the road I see I did a better job than I credited myself with and things were fine. Also, take care of yourself, too!!!! And let others help...take each older kid out solo, even if it can only be once a month for an hour. That counts!" (juliepippert)
"Before I had two, I heard advice from a friend who told me to always attend to the older child first because they'll remember being upset. Unless it's an emergency of course." (MommyBKnowsBest)
"I say rely on others. Let dad, grandma, etc come in and help you out. They can hold baby while you bond with one of the other two. They can take the other two out while you bond with baby, etc, etc. Also, let things slide and give yourself a break. You absolutely will not be able to be all things they need you to be at all times. Accept it now and do the best you can. Let laundry slide. Buy more convenience meals, etc. And let the older kids help -- I think it does make a difference. They will feel proud and special that mom needs their help. Even if they don't do it perfectly, let them be your special helpers. And sometimes I would throw out lines like 'your baby brother took a nap so you and I could get some cuddle time.' Well, yeah it was a little white lie, but I figure it's one of those ones that was okay to use." (Brandie)
"I have three boys -- one of them has autism. We have found that every week we find time to be one on one. Be it taking just one to the grocery store or errand running. I'll try and take one out to lunch or dinner every few weeks. Also, now that the oldest is in school all day and the youngest still naps I'll use that naptime to snuggle and have bonding time with the middle child. It seems like a lot but you WILL find time and you will find a routine that works for YOU." (Alaina Frederick)
"Plan plan plan, for example if I know I'm getting ready to nurse baby I'll take my pre-schooler to the potty beforehand, that way at least one thing will be out of the way." (MommyBKnowsBest)
Comments from this thread:
"I took my son to the store and let him pick out anything he wanted for the new baby (he chose a pink elephant). And she, in turn, gave him a 'peace offering' present!" (Jenny Rapson)
"A friend told me she got a cake when the new baby was born, like a birthday party, her older kids were stoked because they got cake and the baby didn't. She also did the peace offering presents as well." (Casey Mullins)
"I made sure the nurse and everyone knew that the first hour of visitation was to be with us and our children only. I didn't want my daughter to have the "pressure" of every family member there when she met her brother for the first time. It really helped! We also got puff paint and made a Big Sister shirt and a Baby onesie she loved it, and a tote for her to bring some thing to the hospital." (Tonya Crain)
"This time around I took both girls with me to pick out an outfit for the new baby from each of them and anything else they wanted to contribute. They "helped" organize the nursery too. We read some books about siblings as well. When we brought the baby home we also gave them each a new present. It went very smoothly." (Victoria Mason)
"Make sure to spend extra time on the others when a new baby is born. Even the big kids get a little jealous (mine are tweens and felt some sting with the little one getting all of mommy's attention at first). Let them help and participate in decisions. I let my oldest give the baby his middle name. My 11 yo daughter is like a second mama to the baby." (Sprittibee)
"We brought a cupcake to the hospital for my older one to celebrate her sisters birthday! She loved it." (Kim- Sleep Lady)
"I also had a special gift from the baby to big sister. I also made her a special shirt and encouraged friends and family to bring something small- a sticker, crayons, etc. when visiting. I now always bring a little something for big sister/big brother when visiting a friend's new baby." (Aracely Worley)
"My husband takes our toddler son to breakfast every Saturday morning and the baby and I aren't allowed. It is their special thing. I think it has really helped." (onceamonthmom)
"The days before the baby came, we talked about how important it was that they were the 'bestest big brothers' and they were SO excited to be able to help even if it was just handing me wipes or anything. I NEVER refused their help at any moment even if they were more in the way as it was their confirmation that they were big brothers and a huge help. When I did have a spare moment I made sure to spend it without the baby in my arms and just with us." (Alaina Frederick)
We leave you with love from our own families and will share a thought of our own, too. With Finn, the youngest of her four kids, Cooper had the older ones in the hospital room with her "helping" soon after he was born. It is a memory they all still talk about and remember. One of their family's cherished photographs is here, below -- Cooper's oldest giving Finn, her youngest, his first bath.
Emily's girls still talk about their first meeting too. Ellie was born in the middle of the night and Emily and her husband Andy decided to make the introduction at home since Emily planned to leave the hospital just as soon as she possibly could. The two girls met on Emily's bed with the dog looking on, and Erin was especially pleased to be the one to introduce Ellie to both the dog and her favorite stuffed animals.
Aren't Emily and Cooper just lovely? If you're not tuned into the community on TheMotherhood.com, definitely check it out! You can also follow Emily, Cooper, and TheMotherhood on Twitter at @EmilyMcKhann, @coopermunroe, and @theMotherhood.
First image credit: Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net