New baby? No problem, Part 1

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So you’re preggers (or adopting) again? Congratulations! You’re about to enter the world of being a mom times two… or more. It’s the most rewarding thing in the world, but let’s face it, Mama: It is a little overwhelming to think about how to give 100% to more than one kid.

As it turns out, all I really wanted with Baby #1 was sleep, unlimited coffee, and a really great pair of Spanx.

With Baby #2… and #3…. and #4, I needed a clone.

And a housekeeper.

The best thing that I did was to consider the feelings of my kid(s) in advance, long before we welcomed the new addition to the family. It was stressful, but definitely worth the preplanning, to ensure the transition was smooth. Translation: Very limited outbursts, jealousy, and general disruption (I’m looking at you, sleep and potty training regressions).

pregnancy kids

Remember that you’ll be sleep deprived. Again.

Truthbomb: You might not have totally caught up on sleep from previous babies.

Tantrums from Kid #1 feel ten times worse when you’re running on only a few hours of sleep and have sore boobs or nether regions, am I right?

So, what’s a mama to do to balance more than one child?

I see this question quite a bit from moms, so I’m sharing what helped me with the transition. Today, I’ll share tips for before the new baby comes home, and in my next blog, I’ll share info for how to help support your kid(s) once your new baby arrives.

  1. Backpack for hospital. Your kids will probably see you getting lots of gifts for the baby. This can spark jealously, which is understandable. I packed a special backpack full of gifts (e.g., crafts, coloring stuff, stickers, movie, gift card to favorite restaurant) for them that they were only allowed to open once I headed to the hospital. I left it somewhere they could see it to help create anticipation. BONUS: The backpack contents kept them occupied while I was in labor, which alleviated the burden on caregivers.
  2. Puzzle with baby name. This is a fun way to engage your kids to learn baby’s name. If your kids are too young to read, a caregiver can be helpful to guide them in putting this together. We didn’t share our baby’s name in advance, so this was in the backpacks. You can go big with a fancy wooden custom made puzzle, or you can cut paper and go low-key. You don’t have to spend a lot here.
  3. A sense of control. When you’re expecting another baby, your kids at home might feel a lack of control. As we grown ups can agree, feeling out of control doesn’t usually feel good. Their world is much smaller than ours, so this change might hit even harder for them. Here are some examples of ways to give “bite sized pieces” of control:
      • Allow them to pick part of baby’s name. Select a few names you would be OK with, and let them choose from those. For example, we gave our kids two options for our baby’s middle name, and they voted. They proudly announced their role when people asked about baby’s name.
      • Take them shopping. Ask their opinions to allow them the opportunity to help pick out baby’s things. Pro Tip: If they’re old enough, let them use the scanner gun to help you register; yes, it is a little crazy, but it is pure magic. When you use these items later, make sure to point out what a great suggestion it was and how much baby likes the item.
      • Take their advice. If your kids are like mine, they have SO. MANY. OPINIONS. so why not let them pick out the baby’s “coming home outfit”? There will be lots of pics in this outfit, and you can point out that big bro/sis picked out the most perfect outfit when people make comments about how the baby.
  4. Focus on their promotion. Often, kids feel overshadowed when you’re expecting, so helping create a narrative to reframe this positively can be helpful. One way to keep it in check is to redirect the conversation when your child is around, so that you focus on what a great “big” s/he will be. Example: “Yes, I’m due in January, and [Child] will get promoted to an important new job as a big brother. I am so excited, because I know what an awesome big brother he will be! [Child], what are you looking forward to the most?” 
  5. The “Big Brother” or “Big Sister” Shirt. Nothing grabs attention quite like a “Big Brother” or “Big Sister” shirt, y’all. Really. This is another great way to redirect attention to your child. My kids totally lit up when someone saw their shirt and asked them about it. This helps balance the attention, and it also allows your child to begin thinking about his or her new role. Make sure you start shaping whatever behaviors you’d like to see early! Example: “Yes, we are so excited for [Child] to be a big sister! She is such a super helper now, and I know she’ll be the best hugger when we bring her little brother home.”

big bro

The truly important thing is that you are mindful that things will change, and you help manage expectations for your child. It is important to be intentional in helping shape the change, so that your child takes pride in the transition and feels like a valued part of it… not a bystander watching it all happen. The goal is to strengthen your growing family in a way that builds trust and love. You’ve got this, Mama.

I’d love to hear what worked for you. What did you do to prepare your child(ren) for a new baby?

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Jeanie is a perfectly imperfect mama, transplanted to Cordova fresh out of graduate school. She and her husband, Matt, had no intent on making Memphis “home” – but ten years later, they’re still here (and love it!). They have three saucy gingers, along with three “fur babies”. Between homeschooling and chairing graduate Psychology departments online, life is never boring in the Whinghter house. It’s no surprise that Jeanie fancies coffee, but she also loves bargain shopping and embarrassing her children with her questionable singing/dancing skills. She’s had more #PinterestFails that she can count and has perfected the art of giving a good pep talk (watch out, puberty!). Motherhood has slowly transformed her into the “uncool” Mom she thought she’d never be, yet she’s never felt cooler or more content with her life.