Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How To: Eliminate Jealousy with Toddlers and Newborns

I was chatting this morning with an expecting mother. She has an almost two-year-old little girl and is due in a few weeks. While we chatted I could sense the excitement, fear and angst about what was to come. I could feel it, and I could see it on her face.

So to all those soon-to-be Moms of TWO out there, I have a message.  But before I say what I'm about to say, let me tell you why you should listen.

For those that don't know me, my kids are fairly close in age. Twenty two months separate my first and my second, and only twenty months separate my second and third. I know where you are, and I know exactly how you feel.

I promise, I know. 

This "condensed parenting" is challenging and wonderful and overwhelming and awesome. I'll be posting more about all the challenges, but today I want to share a tip that has saved my family the JEALOUSY of an irrational toddler.

Tip #1: When you have your new bundle of joy, make sure you've chatted about it A LOT before hand. We bought our kids a doll around the 7th month of pregnancy (yes, even our son!) and let them practice holding it. We chatted about "the new brother" that was coming. It wasn't "Mommy's baby" -- we presented it as "their sibling".

Why? Well - lets be honest. Siblings have the unique opportunity to be exceptionally close, life-long friends. I hope the friendship my children share lasts long after I'm gone.  I didn't mind presenting the baby as a sibling first, child of mine second. It helped my kids feel proud and connected before the baby even came! 

Tip #2:  We focused a LOT on the introduction. When the baby was born and we were about to meet for the first time as a family, we had the baby in the bassinet in the corner of the room. My husband and I were NOT holding the newborn.

We chatted for a little, maybe got some juice or a snack and waited for the TODDLER to point out the baby or ask about him.  When they did, we simply said "Oh! Yes! Your brother came yesterday. And look, he brought you a gift!"

We'd come out with a small token of friendship from one baby to a toddler. A puzzle, a coloring book, soft blocks, etc. Nothing major, but we ALL know that a gift can go a long way.

Honestly -- that was enough. Toddlers are pretty simple.

 I spent time holding them, talking to them, celebrating the fact that they were a BIG sister/brother. When my daughter was old enough to talk, we let her introduce our newborn.

My not quite 2-year-old reading to my 2 month old

I know, I know. This is definitely playing up the role of the toddler. To some, it may seem like you are making a lot of concessions to please your toddler. But the truth of it is that fostering good relationships in your family is more important than a strangers opinion.

We've had an amazing time watching our children bond as siblings. Sometimes they argue, don't get me wrong. But they also hug and kiss goodbye in the hallway at preschool. They hold hands in the backseat and share. They help feed their youngest brother, and are proud of being a "big sister/big brother".

This kind of love? #worthit. Every. single. second.

For us, that was more important than any of the little changes we made. Our house is chaotic (obviously!) but it is mostly a peaceful chaos (is that a thing? I'm totally making it a thing.). 

What other worries do you as an "almost-mom-of-two" have? What can I help you through? I'm not perfect -- but I do have some experience! Message me  and let's chat! I may not know the answer, but I know your feelings and would love to offer support in a world that seems to be stacked against you!

Other Moms-of-many... I want to see pictures of your little ones being sweet with each other! <3 I can't wait to hear how other Moms foster great relationships between their kids. Share your TIPS! 

Meghan <3.