Friday, 5 January 2018

Making time for your other children after baby arrives.

We all make the same promise when we discover we're expecting another bundle of joy; that your existing children will always be included and not feel pushed out by the new addition. But then when baby arrives you learn it's not as easy as you first thought.

I'm experiencing this first hand right now. We promised Vala she could be involved and help look after her brother but then days after his arrival, she caught a cold. A big coughing and snotty cold. Not something you want a newborn to catch. So began the task of keeping Vala a safe distance from Flynn and let me tell you, its been rough. She adores her brother and wants to smother him in kisses and cuddles just like mummy and daddy does and she can't understand why she isn't allowed to touch him without first thoroughly washing her hands. Remember she's only 4 so her fingers are usually up her nose or in her mouth. If she doesn't wash her hands, she doesn't get to touch Flynn. She makes up for that by getting real close to his face and thanks to the snotty nose, she breathes through her mouth onto him. It was becoming a nightmare trying to keep her cold germs away from Flynn so we started keeping her away from him. Of course this had the negative impact of her feeling pushed out and unwanted which isn't the case at all.

She has spent the last few days moping
around the house, not wanting to do anything and constantly telling us she misses her nonna (who spoils her and makes a huge fuss over her). Jordan and I are overcome with guilt and trying our best to make up for causing her this sadness. It's still not easy though. What she wants most is the mummy daughter time we used to have before I became pregnant but I can't give that to her just yet. It's not that I don't want to its just recovering from a c-section whilst almost constantly having a newborn attached to my breast makes it impossible. So how do you make time for your other children after baby arrives?

Whilst we're no experts, Jordan and I have been applying these techniques:

One on one parent time.

This has primarily been Jordan's doing at
the moment with my limited movement however  I have been trying to get some private time in with Vala whilst Flynn is settled in his cot. Jordan has been taking Vala with him to run errands and taking her out the house for walks to the near by play park. Vala gets Jordan's complete and undivided attention which has helped perk her mood up. When at home with me, I try and give as much cuddle time as I can before Flynn is reattached to my chest. Selfies are a mummy daughter past time of ours so I try and keep up with them as well. It doesn't seem like a lot on my part but even the little things can make a world of difference to a child feeling excluded.

Get them involved.

If your child isn't sneezing up a storm or riddle with cold germs like mine currently is, it can be easy to get them involved with the new addition. If you're bottle feeding, encourage them to have a turn feeding their sibling. If baby is having some floor time, give your kid(s) a toy or two to hold close to baby for stimulation. The play time can help create a bond between the two siblings. Also depending on the age of your child(ren), get them involved with the nappy changes. If they're older they may even be able to change a nappy for you to help take one more task off your busy list. Helping out with baby can help your child feel needed and included in the new family dynamic.

But if, like mine, your child is ill and unable to be too close to the baby, get them involved in other aspects of life. We've been letting Vala decide dinner each night. We give her a couple of options and let her choose. We let her assist in making her own breakfast and get her to help with mundane tasks like getting a clean nappy from the nappy draw. Anything to make her feel like she's contributing and that her help is needed and valued.

Compliments and encouragement.

This may seem like an obvious one because
it's something we should be doing every day anyway. But it is easy to forget in the midst of sleep deprivation and piles of laundry. Jordan and I have been using positive reinforcement whenever Vala does anything remotely positive. We get overly enthusiastic whenever she completes simple tasks like dressing herself and shower her in compliments when she does something helpful. We tell her she's such a good helper and an amazing older sister several times a day to help her feel good about herself and let her know we've acknowledged everything she has done. It doesn't take a lot to tell her she's beautiful when she cleans her face or that she's very sweet for bringing me my 50th cup of imaginary tea to help me feel better. Compliments and encouragement are such an easy way to help your child feel acknowledged and appreciated with the new arrival in the house.

At the end of the day, it's all about doing what works for you and your family to make sure everyone feels equal and included once the family dynamic changes. These examples are just ones that my fiancè and I are trying and they've been working for us. If you have any tips on how to help your existing children adjust to the new arrival then please share them in the comments below.

Until next time,
Alli xo


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