When we knew that we would be having our baby girl, one of the things I worried about the most was making sure to still make time for our older son. I never wanted him to feel left out or unimportant because there was a new baby in the house. Especially with so much excitement around this baby, because we thought for a long time we may not be able to have one. My husband and I talked in great length before she came about making sure to make some time for just him. I thought a lot about my husband and him needing their time together, and wanting to plan outings just for the two of them. Then it dawned on me that although I am his bonus mom, he had been living with me full time for almost 6 years already, and he needed me just as much as he needed his Dad.
I knew that in the beginning it would be hard to sneak away and that the baby would need me around the clock, but I made sure to include our son. He would come and lay in the room with me and baby and we would watch a movie. I made sure he was comfortable being around while I was nursing and I would sit in the living room and watch shows that he chose. We cooked together or made afternoon snacks. I made sure to continue making the time to talk about his day after school as we always had in the past. Of course at times he wasn’t able to get as much of our undivided attention as he once had, but he felt our effort. The guys would leave us girls home and head out for a day of fun or just hanging out just the two of them, and as soon as I was able to him and I would do the same. Sometimes it would just be running errands, or sneaking away to have fast food but we enjoyed it.
The funny thing is, he didn’t even mind when I needed to bring his little sister along sometimes, he enjoyed being a big brother to her and being helpful. He enjoyed being the one to always be able to make her laugh. Sometimes when I was worn out I would see his face full of pride when he would ask to rock her to sleep. He’d be so happy that HE was the one that got her to calm down. I would express a heartfelt thank you to him and tell him how much he was appreciated. We also made sure that he always knew that she was never his responsibility. I feel that is a lot to put on a child, we always let him help as much or as little as he wanted to. Because of this he has never changed a dirty diaper hahaha.
I believe that even on the tough days, or days that it seemed the baby needed 100 percent of our attention, what made it easier was that we thought this out beforehand. Don’t get me wrong, there were some days when it seemed like our daughter cried for hours, and our son had needs that I couldn’t meet right away and that caused some frustration, but that’s okay! We knew that things would change, it was inevitable but we consciously tried to be mindful of the change for everyone, not just us as parents.
Communication is key, such a cliche statement right? But it’s so very true, we talked to him about what he was expecting, what his fears were, the things he was excited about and we’ve kept those conversations going a year and a half later. We can’t plan for everything that comes along with a growing family but we sure can talk about things and be ready to face it all together.
My advice for any family that is growing is to talk, talk, talk, make sure your kids no matter what age know that it is okay to express their feelings to you, even the not so good ones. Be honest about the change and let them know that things WILL change and sometimes it will be tough but you will do your best. Make sure that even though someone new is coming along that will need a lot of your attention for awhile, it won’t always be that way. Try to make the time for some outings with just mommy, or daddy. If you have family or close friends nearby when you are ready and comfortable to go out for a little without the baby, it might be a welcomed break for all of you. If things are tough for any member of the family or all of you, or if you ever just need another listening ear be open to talking with a professional.