A lot of friends seem to be having their second babies recently. It’s not a matter of easier or harder but just different when you have two. I felt more confident in certain aspects but harder in terms of balancing baby and toddler needs. But it’s 100% more fun!
For me, having two kids was particularly unfamiliar because I don’t have a sibling. As an ‘only-child parent’, I felt I needed to do a tone of reading and so I thought I’d share some of my top strategies:
- “I’m a big brother now” by Caroline Jayne Church - this was the only book I bought for William, then 2 years old, 4 months before Ethan arrived. Sweet, simple, positive and most importantly realistic messaging! We read this every night and after Ethan came along.
- We spoke to William about when he was a baby and looked over old photos together. I think it’s important to set realistic expectations that babies are not going to be fun immediately and they also need time to bond and fall in love with each other.
- We took William shopping to buy his baby brother a present. At the same time, “baby” also secretly bought William a present, which they exchanged after they met at the hospital.
- At the hospital, my hubby took the baby out of the room and let William meet me first in the birthing suite and we then brought the baby back into the room, so Ethan was introduced as the new addition to our existing family of three.
- Allowing William to help out as much as he can or wants, just like the book mentioned above “getting a clean nappy for baby, quietly playing with toys when the baby is asleep and helping bathe baby”.
- Making sure we communicated equally to both kids. For example, if Ethan was playing in the baby gym, I would say, “Ethan, mummy is reading William a book, can you please play quietly by yourself.” So the next time when Baby was crying, I would ask William to play quietly himself when I was attending to a crying baby or changing nappies etc.
- Lastly and probably most importantly, we made our major switch to natural open-ended toys and designed our playroom. From my reading, the quality of sibling relationships is established at a young age and tends to stay that way later in life. The best way I thought is to get siblings to enjoy playing together, teaching them to initiate play on terms they both enjoy. All our toys are common, there is no ownership, they have to negotiate to take turns, resolve conflict and as parents, I’m just a facilitator. The way my kids pay attention to what each other are doing (i.e.. emergency vehicles saving lives, chasing bad guys, etc) all of which are in their own separate imaginations but somehow when they play together, they come to a common vision.
Hope you enjoyed this post and thank you so much for reading!