jodi wilson: helping your kids adjust to the new baby
Welcoming a new baby into your family, especially if you have a child or children already, can be quite an adjustment for everyone. Jodi Wilson of Practising Simplicity has four kids, so we asked her to share her experiences of bringing a new little one into the family dynamic, and some tips on how to make this transition as easy as possible.
BY JODI WILSON
A new baby brings with it unsurmountable joy and complete and utter overwhelm. Those first few weeks are emotionally charged and once the bliss wears off, the reality really starts to hit home. Everyone is in a state of limbo as they attempt to adjust, and meltdowns are the norm.
But you know what was is really confronting about this shift? It's surprisingly difficult for me to mother my older children when I have a newborn in my arms. Yes, they are more demanding of my attention (understandable) but I'm so deep in the post-birth haze that my ability to console them, let alone answer questions and deal with difficult behaviour, is beyond me.
Perhaps it’s the almighty power of motherly instinct, to place all your energy into nurturing and protecting the newborn. Or perhaps it’s just a simple case of physical discomfort, hormones and exhaustion; dealing with tantrums and engaging in conversations about Harry Potter require far too much brain power.
I'm past that stage now and over the last few months I've watched my three big kids adjust to life with our fourth baby, a little girl named Marigold. I must admit, this transition has been the easiest for me, perhaps because my expectations are so much lower than with previous births (Marigold is also a calm baby who loves sleep....I know, I didn't think they existed either!). I've also got a 10-year-old and 6-year-old - independent, helpful kids who can make their breakfast, get themselves ready for school and take care of Marigold while I tend to Percy, my toddler.
If you're currently pregnant and preparing for life with two, three or four kids, remind yourself that it takes months for the family to re-establish their new roles and figure out the new dynamic. Here's my advice for those first few months of adjustment:
- have zero expectations: try not to spend your pregnancy stressed about how your child/ren will adapt to the new baby. The truth is, you have no idea how your children react. Similarly, you have no idea what your baby will be like. Age-gaps and personality types do play a part but overall, it's one of those things that you just can't predict. Let your stress go and...
- take your day one hour at a time: it's the ONLY way to do the first few months. The milky haze of the fourth trimester is one big stretch of adjustment and the key to contentment is patience and mindfulness. Make no plans - just take each day as it comes.
- ask for help: big siblings love going on outings and who better to take them than grandparents or friends willing to lend a hand. If family members want to help, ask them to take your big kids to the park or the beach
- a few hours out of the house is good for everyone!
- create one-on-one time : granted this can be tricky but our kids don't have huge expectations - a 10minute story with added cuddles may be just what your little one needs when tantrums are at an all-time high. Affection goes a long way.
- recognise big brother/sister status: babies are magnets for attention which often means the big siblings are somewhat invisible (unless they make noise....which explains a lot!). I always make a point of acknowledging and chatting with the big siblings when I bump into a friend who has a new baby. Recognising the importance of the big kids is so important to their happiness and contentment.
Thank you for telling us a little about your experience and sharing some words of wisdom, Jodi! What a special and potentially tricky time for the family, these are wonderful ways to make the transition a little smoother for the whole family. xx Nb