For the first 2 months of SR’s life, I felt like we were in survival mode. I know that may seem dramatic to some of you, but those of you who have been there totally get it. That is really how it felt. Between healing from having another baby, Hampton starting to act out and show major aggression towards our newborn, Ryan being in the middle of a legislative session and showing our house every other day, it was absolutely insane. I’m just keeping it real. It has not been all warm and fuzzy. Sure, we enjoyed our baby cuddles and we have loved every minute, but it has not been easy.
It has taken me a while to figure out how to get Hampton to be kind and excited over his new sister. At first he was jealous and honestly just didn’t get it. I don’t think he knew she was a real baby. He acted like she was a doll. We had a few moments that were pretty scary.
A couple of months ago, I had had enough and really started working with him. I designated him as my #1 helper and have been trying to spend a lot more one on one time with him. Since doing this, he has been great. He grabs diapers for me, he wipes her mouth with the burp cloth and he gives the sweetest little hugs. It has made all the difference. We have only had one act of aggression towards the baby in the last month now which is a lot better than multiple times a day.
So, how do you get your toddler involved and feel special after the new baby arrives?
1. Talk to your toddler. They understand more than we think they do, they just can’t express things with their words, so they act out to get your attention or communicate with you. I sat down and talked with my son one on one. I told him that he had a very special job – he was a big brother! His job was to help his baby sister, protect her and teach her. I told him this over and over for a couple of weeks and his attitude totally changed because he felt special and included.
2. Let your toddler “help” you. Have them hand you diapers or wipes. Let them give baby their pacifier or help with their bottle feeding. This also helps them feel included and needed.
3. Pray for your child. This is the greatest thing you can do for your children. Bringing another baby into our home rocked my son’s world. He was used to getting all the attention and then had to share all of a sudden. He was too young to really comprehend what was happening. It took him a while to get that she wasn’t leaving. She was here to stay. Your toddler is going through a lot of change. Their world has been turned upside down. They are going to need a lot of love and support during this time. Prayer is the most important thing you can do for your child. Ask for God’s wisdom in how you parent and how to best care for two babies.
4. Spend one on one time with your toddler often. I try to spend time with my little man every single day. Some days that may just be reading a book while SR is sleeping. Other days I may take him to the park – just the two of us. Make sure you are still getting that special time with the one that made you a mommy!
5. Give it time. The thing I noticed through these last 5 months are that each month gets a little bit easier. As SR and Hampton grow older and I gain more and more experience having two babies, it has become just about manageable! Don’t get me wrong, people still look at me when I’m holding SR and holding H’s hand, my purse and diaper bag with pitying stares. I get asked all the time if I need help. haha It makes me laugh because I honestly could always use help because I’m outnumbered, but I can also do it!
H will be two this weekend. I can’t believe it. I will no longer have “2 under two.” I will have two 18 months apart. My emotions are all over the place because while I do have two kids now, I feel like I just had him! I feel like I just brought my first baby home from the hospital. I was looking at photos on Facebook the other day and came across some from the pumpkin patch last year. It feels like that was yesterday. H has changed so much this year, but remained the same sweet little boy. He is more curious and loves to study everything. He started counting to 10 a couple of months ago and knows all of his primary and even some secondary colors. He sings and makes his mama proud – dances all over the place. He gets so excited over the tiniest things and he has the biggest heart already. I love this baby with all my heart and while he will technically not be a baby anymore, he will always be my baby. The one who made me the most precious name in the world – mommy.