I remember before our 4-year-old was born, sitting in the rocker in her nursery thinking about how she was going to complete our little family. Worrying about things that eventually fell into place: Feeding her, sleep training, adjusting our family’s schedule. Little did I know that 4 ½ years later we would be preparing for an even bigger change in our family. My daughter has been our one and only for 4 ½ years! That’s quite a long time that she has been the center of our little family. So now I sit in that familiar rocker worrying about things like: how this new little bundle of joy will fit into our busy schedule? Will big sister feel left out or less important? How can I give my all to both children when I am feeling sleep deprived? I know that in a matter of months we will get into the swing of things, and these worries will be a thing of the past. However, I am a planner, and need to have a strategy in place for making this transition easy for our big girl.
Here are 5 ways we are preparing our big girl for the arrival of her baby sister:
Spending plenty of quality time before baby-
We want to make sure that our daughter knows how important she is to us. It is easy to get swept away in preparing for the baby’s arrival. We have so much to do! Between washing baby clothes, packing the hospital bag and installing the carseat, the extra tasks seem to be never ending. I try to make lists of things that need to get done and cross them off my list while our daughter is napping or at preschool. I save her awake/home time for family games of “Go Fish”, Mommy and me art projects and playdates with her friends. I feel like this helps our daughter know that she is a priority to us, and that will not change with any addition to our family.
Talking about changes that will take place-
I am not naive. I know that there will be changes to our family with our second girl’s arrival. I make sure to take time to explain to my daughter the changes that are about to happen. We will have to be quiet during her naps. Mommy is going to have my hands tied at times feeding the baby or changing her. We might not get to do as much outside the house at first. She will have to be gentle with the baby and ask permission to hold her instead of trying to pick her up on her own. I think that preparing her for these changes ahead of time and setting the expectations before the baby comes home will make the transition smoother and hopefully save us from a few big sis meltdowns. I have also talked with my big girl about my hospital stay and how she will be spending the night with one of her grandparents, so that she is not blindsided when it happens. She knows that her grandparents will bring her to the hospital once baby sister is here, and that she will get to be the first one to meet the baby. I am hoping that this will make her feel special as well as initiate that sister bond.
Preparing to rely on help from family-
We are so lucky to have plenty of family in town or coming into town when the baby arrives to help. If you have nearby family or friends to rely on to help you out with meals, running errands, or driving big sibling to and from activities, I highly suggest you utilize their help in the first few weeks. I hope to get into a routine quickly so that both girls adjust easily to a new schedule, but I definitely won’t turn down the help in the first couple weeks so that I can ensure I am not stretched too thin and have plenty of time to attend to both girls’ needs.
Planning quality big girl time for after baby-
Speaking of relying on family and friends for help, I fully intend to leave the baby with Dad or the Grandparents every now and then so that Big Sis and I can spend quality time together once Little Sis gets here as well. I am also planning on dropping her naptime as Kindergarten approaches. That time will then be used to spend quality time with my big girl. This will be a great time to pull out all the toys and games with the teeny pieces. We will want to make sure that big sister gets plenty of time with Daddy too. One of my girl’s favorite things to do is go on “Daddy/Daughter Dates”, and this is something that I believe will still be so important after little sister arrives. I want our girl to know that even though we have a new member of the family, that she is just as important to us as she was before baby.
Highlighting her important role as a big sister-
We want our daughter to know that being a big sister is an important job. Our girl thrives on feeling special and important! I plan on using this trait in our favor by explaining to her that her role as “Big Sister” is imperative to our family. She will be so helpful to Mommy and Daddy! As a big sister she will be responsible for helping little sister learn all kinds of things. We will explain to her that she is one of her sister’s first teachers and that she will mimic her behavior, so it is important that she teaches her to be kind and loving.
I am hoping by doing these 5 things we can make it an easy shift from only child to big sister. Hopefully not only will this plan make is easy for big sister, but for everyone in our family. What are some things you have done in preparing older siblings for a new baby?