Penny was a mere 6 days old when I experienced my first outing with both girls. Our mission: church. Josh packs a screaming Maisy into one car after patient attempts to get her to peaceably climb in of her own accord. My postpartum self follow several minutes later with our newborn.
Upon arriving at church I slipped into the service entirely noticed because you might as well have a spotlight on you when you’re holding a newborn. Just after worship Josh slinked off to change Penny’s diaper and didn’t come back for what seemed like forever. When he did he had a Maisy in make shift clothes tagging along behind him. She peed in Kidzworks. Fortunately for us we chose to sit in the front and Maisy was hell bent on dancing in the aisles in nothing but the oversized t-shirt and pull up Kidzworks rustled up for her to wear, – showing the church world we’re new to and somehow supposed to be pastoral examples too that obviously we are a mess.
By the time I got home with both kids, as Josh had to stay behind to work, I was in tears – the potty accident as her 7th within 24 hours with my “baby blues” postpartum emotions and my first trip out of the house with both kids and I was beyond spent.
I knew that Maisy would have a rough time transitioning after the baby was born, but I underestimated her completely. I certainly did not expect that the hardest part of welcoming our new baby into our lives would be dealing with the tornado that became of her big sister. I daily was left teary because I hurt for my toddler and was being hurt by her while my newborn won the award for easiest baby on the planet.
When Penny came Maisy abundantly lavished her love and enthusiasm on her baby sister but entirely disrupted every other corner of her world. She largely spent her days saying no to everything we asked her to do from going potty to eating to saying sorry, throwing tantrums when we made her do it anyway, hitting, saying “stop talking,” peeing more in her pants than on the potty, and stubbornly waking for the day at 4 or 4:30am.
I mean, I get it. Not only did she have a sister disrupting her world, but her best friend, Mom, wasn’t taking care of her like usual and was resting and out of reach a lot, her daily crew of day care buddies hadn’t been here in over a week, and she was getting all these instructions about how to act with her sister on a consistent basis.
I did everything I could think of to help her cope. I arranged play dates every day from now until the time I received day care kids after a couple weeks of maternity leave, I included her with the baby and extra special activities just with me like taking a bath or coloring or painting her toe nails, I did every nap time or bed time for her like usual despite my recovering body’s protests, and I loved the crap out of her. After stacking up all of this intentionality on a daily basis we turned a corner and started to find our sweet little girl again.
Now, three months later, even just 3 weeks after Penny arrived, Maisy is back to her normal sweet self and then some. She’s a new and improved Maisy!
Now for a quick list of ideas to help your older sibling welcome a new baby with as little bumps as possible – because I’m a list kind of girl myself!
Things to help your older sibling cope with a new baby:
- Arrange play dates. My daughter, Maisy, is ridiculously socially oriented. Her life is friends. During the week our house is swarming with little females so I knew she would need regular play dates in my weeks off hosting day care in order to survive the transition into big sisterhood.
- Give gifts and treats. A baby gets a lot of presents and attention. Your older sibling will be feeling forgotten and left out. Maisy got some special gifts from her Mimi like a baby wearing buckle carrier like Mommy’s that she can use with her dolls, a big sister doll, and a big sister book.
- Spend quality time. The day we had at amazing Maisy I took just her into the bath with me in the morning (water is her favorite) and spent some time grooming her by doing her nails and hair. Josh also took her on a daddy-daughter date to the park and played on the slides and swings. That’s a lot of quality time in one day… what can I say, our girl has a big quality time love tank to fill!
- Be encouraging. Try to point out EVERY TIME your older sibling is doing something awesome. They are likely getting an overload of negative feedback in regards to their ill behavior and the learning curve in handling their baby sibling.
That’s what I have to offer. If you have any more helpful advice and tips, comment below!