Preparing Children to Become Siblings

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 When I was pregnant with Vera,  I was worried about preparing Hugh for life with a sibling. I remember interrogating some of my friends trying to know what I could anticipate happening and attempting to figure out solutions. Hearing experiences from other mothers helped me so much, so I wanted to share with you some wisdom from Aubree, Deveney, and Taylor. I am so grateful for their willingness to answer questions for this blog post. 


Tell us a little about yourself and your family (how far apart are your kids?)

Aubree: My name is Aubree and my husband is Clint. We have two beautiful children. Our daughter, Mora is 6 years old. Our son, Oliver is 14 months and such a love. Mora turned 5 years old the month before Oliver came earthside.

Deveney: My children are 9, 5, and 9 months, so about 4.5 years apart each between 1 & 2, and 2 & 3, and then 8.5 years from oldest to youngest.

Taylor: My husband and I have two girls and a dog. My husband is an Apache Helicopter pilot for the Army and I’m a stay at home mom/jill of all trades. The girls are 18 months apart. 

 

What were you personally nervous about and what were you excited about?

Aubree: I was so nervous with having Oliver. The age gap scared me senseless. We'd just moved across the country when I was 34 weeks pregnant and Mora started kindergarten soon after that. I knew throwing a new baby into the mix wasn't going to make things easy on her. I was super excited to see her be a big sister though. She'd been praying for a sibling for many years.

Deveney: I was excited to have a baby and enjoy all the baby things again, I was nervous about having enough focus and attention for all the growing needs of each of them.

Taylor: I was nervous about postpartum and losing my hair again. Not to mention my poor boobs. But I was excited for another baby & for Mabel -oldest- to have a best friend.

 

What were your kids’ reactions to having a new sibling, and how did you tell them?

Aubree: We told Mora we were pregnant with a little present. Inside was a pair of booties. She was so excited and very quickly started to tell everyone. When she met Oliver for the first time she was such a tender sister. She loved holding him and always being near him.

Deveney: Paisley has LOVED both of her brothers so much, she was more excited for her youngest brother, I think because she is older and can hold and help with the baby things more, which most little girls love. I had a cute way of telling them planned, but we had needed to tell some family sooner than expected, so we were just together the 4 of us in an RV in Oregon at a family reunion and we just told them. They both kinda hollered and whooped and were excited, Tucker mostly excited because Paisley was excited. We hugged and talked about it for few minutes and then they were off to play with cousins, not my ideal, but it worked out ok.

Taylor: Mabel loved Lilly the moment she saw her. And she loved my belly when I was pregnant. She was/is always so gentle with Lilly, and all we really said was momma had a new baby. She took it well.

 

What was the best advice you heard or have for people preparing for having a subsequent child?

Aubree: Just do it! If you feel someone is missing from your family don't hesitate. I think this is something society today over focuses on too often. Having children isn't easy but it is so worth it.

Deveney: To accept help. I think it is hard for women to ask for help and to accept help, but during those early newborn months, having help with your older kids or with the baby for a bit can be such a blessing to be able to give attention fully to one child. Also, meals, I had the normal several meals after Sonny was born, but a close friend just decided to bring a meal every few weeks or so, and it was always enough to last us several days. Those meals made such a huge difference to us, they were hard for me to accept at first, but we were SO tired and preparing food was just another step that we didn't have energy for most days, they were such a blessing.

Taylor: Never heard any good advice. I’d say, tune it all out. Multiple kids are hard even if they're angels. Everyone struggles and has different experiences.

 

What did you do to prepare your children to become siblings? Did you think it made a difference?

Aubree: We didn't do a whole lot to prepare Mora. We talked a lot about the new baby that was coming and how things would change a little. I think being open and honest with her about everything made things easier on her. She knew what was happening and why. She likes to be informed.

Deveney: With Paisley, before we had Tucker, I made her a special little memory book that talked about how special she was to us and how much we had loved our time with just her. I think it helped in those first months when we weren't able to give her as much attention as she was used to. With Sonny, we just talked about how mommy and daddy were going to need to be away for awhile, at the NICU with baby brother. I think consistently talking about it helped, we didn't do anything very specific, but talked about it and tried to prepare them for less attention. We also did one on one dates with each of them in the final months before baby came and create a hopefully special memory to help them remember how loved and important they are.

Taylor: Mabel helped pick out baby clothes for Lilly and rub my belly when I felt gross but otherwise she was really chill in her own world. I think because she was still young, the whole idea was OK to her.

 

Do you have any favorite books or videos that helped your children be a little more aware of what was going on?

Aubree: I didn't look into any books for Mora. I wasn't worried about her ability of being a big sister.

Deveney: No, I wish I did though, that would have been nice!

Taylor: No.

 

Any additional wisdom?

Aubree: Don't forget about the big kids once the baby arrives. I still take lots of alone time with Mora so she doesn't feel forgotten or left out. I can tell when she needs this time too. She gets a bit more agitated and frustrated easily. I try and spend as much alone time with her as possible.

Deveney: Just do the best that you can and know that you were given these children for a reason. You know them, you know what might help the situation, you know when they need a little more attention and love. We mothers are an inspiring and fearsome bunch and I truly believe that we do better than we think, almost always.

Taylor: I’d say give each of them a little bit of time each day with just you or dad. No siblings. They seem to really enjoy it and at least my girls, play nicer together after. And remember that being a parent sucks for a lot of it. We all hate our kids sometimes, even if we're dishonest about it with each other. 😊

As I was preparing for putting together this blog post, I found this story below and I thought it perfectly described the feelings of welcoming another baby:

As I walk along holding your two year old hand, basking in the glow of our magical relationship. Suddenly, I feel a kick from within, as if to remind me that our time alone is limited. And I wonder: How could I ever love another child as I love you? Then she is born, and I watch you. I watch the pain you feel at having to share me as you’ve never shared me before. I hear you telling me in your own way, “Please love only me” And I hear myself telling you in mine, “I can’t” kowing in fact, that I never can again. 

You cry. I cry with you. I almost see our new baby as an intruder on the precious relationship we once shared. A relationship we can never quite have again. But then, barely noticing, I find myself attached to that new being, and feeling almost guilty. I’m afraid to let you see me enjoying her — as though I am betraying you. 

But then I notice your resentment change, first to curiosity, then to protectiveness, finally to genuine affection. More days pass, and we are settling into a new routine. The memory of days with just the two of us is fading fast. But something else is replacing those wonderful times we shared, just we two. 

There are new times — only now, we are three. I watch the love between you grow, the way you look at each other, touch each other. I watch how she adores you — as I have for so long. I see how excited you are by each of her new accomplishments. 

And I begin to realize that I haven’t taken something from you, I’ve given something to you. I notice that I am no longer afraid to share my love for each of you is as different as you are, but equally strong. And my question is finally answered, to my amazement. Yes, I can love another child as much as I love you — only differently. 

An although I realize you may have to share my time, I now know you’ll never share my love. There’s enough of that for both of you — you each have your own supply. I love you — both. And I thank you both for blessing my life.
— Author Unknown, found via TheTot.com