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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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It Can Wait

Uploaded: Nov 15, 2014
When you first become a mother, everyone tells you that "it" can wait...the laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cooking, exercising, etc. Yes, your house will become a mess, but almost everything else can be put on hold while you tend to your newborn and recover.

When you become a second-time mom, everything can't wait. Your older child needs help adjusting. Our nurse and pediatrician reminded us of a classic analogy. How would I like it if my husband came home from work one day and said that he loved me so much and we were having so much fun that he decided it was time to bring home a second wife? No, I probably wouldn't take the news so well.

Yes, it can be wonderful to be a sibling, but it takes time to learn what that new role entails. Mom most likely can't give the older child everything he needs during the first few weeks postpartum. And if dad takes care of mom, he might not be able to tend to his needs either. We relied on our relatives, friends and a postpartum doula to give our son the attention he deserved and needed to enjoy being a big brother as much as possible.

How did you help your older child adjust to being a big brother or sister? Some of our favorite tips were:

1. When you are pregnant, don't hide the fact that he is going to be a big brother. Let him see baby during the ultrasounds and hear baby's heartbeat. Talk to him when you unpack/buy baby toys and clothes. You may be surprised by his reactions and how they change (positively and negatively) throughout your pregnancy.

2. Have some new things for him post baby. We keep a bag of small new toys in our closet "just in case" I need them. I've never needed them, but I like having a safety net. If I reach the end of my rope, I have something to grab on to.

3. Have some "new" things for him post baby. While getting ready for baby, we went through some of our old belongings and found a bunch of random stuff... an old box of highlighters, stickers, duct tape, etc. Many of these items can easily become fun projects for toddlers. If I think my son is in a rut, I take out a few of these random items and we have a fun and easy post-nap activity ready to go.

4. Think about ways to interact with your older child while tending to baby. We read A LOT of books, draw indoors with chalk, play with reusable stickers, listen to music, build with mega blocks, etc.

5. Give your older child 5 minutes of undivided attention. My son and I spend a lot of time together during the day. However, most of the time we could be interrupted by his sister needing my attention. In the first week or two, I made it a priority to give my son at least 5 minutes a day when he knew that my attention was on him and him only. We made it clear that someone else was tending to baby...a friend, our doula or my husband.

5. When taking care of baby, talk to your older child about what you are doing. Be honest. If baby is fussy, tell him that baby isn't feeling 100% and needs your attention now. Remind him how you do the same for him when he has a stomach ache or bumps his head.

6. Don't make promises that you can't keep. It's really easy to say "we'll do that later." Make sure "later" actually happens.

7. Take out the photo albums (even if it's just the photos saved on your phone). Show your older child photos of when he was a baby. It's a great way to talk about him while also explaining why baby needs a lot of attention right now.

I look forward to hearing your favorite tips for helping an older child adjust to a new sibling in the comments section.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mother of 4 , a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Nov 17, 2014 at 9:40 am

Surprising just how many of these things can wait with number 2 as well.

My hints, keep up to date with laundry, grocery shopping for basics, other household chores can wait.

When we transitioned from family of 3 to family of 4, I had a lot of help to look after my toddler. It took me a while to work out that she loved the social aspect of "the help", but didn't want others to do the mommy things. When I worked out that she still wanted ME to help her brush her teeth, go potty, get dressed, etc. and she enjoyed others reading with her, or taking her to the park, it was essential to her privacy that strangers didn't do personal stuff. It made sense when I thought about it, after all there are some personal things I wouldn't want outsiders to help with - outside hospital nurses of course.

The other hint, make sure that all the photos are not the two together. My younger sister always complains that I was in all her baby pictures and it was true. Make sure that at each time you get the camera or phone to take pictures, you take at least one of each on their own.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Nov 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4 - Thanks for sharing your tips. I'm impressed that your mom was able to capture so many photos with you and your sister together. It's hard enough to get one kid to look at the camera, getting two or more can take a lot of effort and skill.

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 17, 2014 at 5:04 pm

When my kids were little, I would occasionally "tell" the baby that he had to wait because I was doing (fill in the blank) with his sister. Obviously this can only work at appropriate times, but she would beam with smiles that I was putting her first.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Nov 17, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Palo Alto parent - Thank you for commenting and for sharing your tips. What a clever idea. I'm sure your daughter appreciated the extra moments of attention.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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