We’re now getting to the stage where Scrip asks where baby D is if he’s not in the room (it’s usually that he’s napping – not that he’s lying on his own somewhere!) She loves our morning routine of making silly faces through the cot bars, playing with him on our bed and lying next to him for nappy changes. And she’s very proud when I bring him into nursery to collect her and her friends crowd around and touch his little fingers and toes.
But there are still adjustments to be made and it certainly hasn’t always been straightforward. She struggled at the start and sometimes reacted in ways that surprised me. I don’t think you can ever be sure exactly how introducing a new baby will go. Although I thought a three year-ish age gap would work well for us, it has also meant that Scrip has had three years of us on her own and she understands so much more than a smaller child would.
With the benefit of good old hindsight, here’s what I wish I’d told her before baby D came along:
She knew about the newborn crying (I warned her a lot about that!) but she didn’t know about all the waiting. There’s a lot of her having to be patient – waiting while I feed D, waiting while I change (another) nappy, waiting while I re-figure out the raincover (I’ve always struggled with that one), waiting when we go for his baby check ups. I read somewhere that you could introduce a specific activity for your child to do every time your baby needs a change or a feed – great idea (but Scrip would have been doing a lot of it!)
The sheer tiredness of mummy and daddy. She was too young to remember our zombie-like states first time around but she can see them clearly this time! From encouraging her to play ‘sleeping’ games with me (yes, seriously – they work sometimes!), to the large coffees that accompany every playground trip to lots of playing whilst I’m lying on the floor or sofa she can clearly see the effects of sleepless nights. Plus I’m probably more likely to be snappy which I’m trying hard to avoid. That’s where the effervescent Sofia the First and Henry Hugglemonster come in handy.
Having to be quiet. Whilst I’ve tried to make sure D gets used to background noise – which is hard to avoid in London – I’ve found three year olds have a certain pitch that’s almost guaranteed to wake a soundly sleeping baby. I find myself asking her to be quiet a lot. I want to let her run, dance and sing but maybe not all at the same time and not when he’s just settling for a nap (or in his face when he wakes up).
Gentleness. She has always been a gentle little girl – playing gently, stroking cats and rabbits softly and brushing my hair so delicately I can hardly feel it. But there’s something about having a sibling that brings out her ‘enthusiasm’. She rocks D vigorously, pinches his cheeks and tickles him like she’s scratching an itch! Unless he’s visibly upset I like to let her play with him but I have to keep a close eye and I’m always using the ‘g’ word.
How to enjoy being independent. Although a little shy, Scrip is a pretty independent girl. She’ll play on her own and will now happily race off at soft play and will join in with other children at playgrounds. But I probably didn’t do enough beforehand to encourage her to help dress herself, brush her own teeth, tidy her own toys away etc. It’s so helpful for her to do that when we’re all trying to leave the house and now she’s a lot better at it she’s starting to take real pride in it (as well as being now dry at nights – yey!)
What did you wish you’d told your little one when you had a new baby?