For the first two and a half years of my son’s life he was an only child. He got all of our attention all the time. Since I stayed home with him while Hubs worked, he and I became each other’s whole world.
You can imagine my worry when I became pregnant again. How on earth would I manage to take care of a baby and a toddler? Then there was the panic when I found out it would be TWO babies and a toddler. Would I have enough love to go around? Would he still know how much he’s loved or would he feel shoved aside and replaced by baby sisters? I spent many sleepless nights and tears worrying that baby sisters were going to ruin his life.
I imagine that other moms feel the same way and have the same worries. I’m here to reassure you that staying connected with your firstborn is absolutely doable. And it’s easier than you might think. This is what I do to maintain the bond with my son after his new siblings arrived.
Take full advantage of baby’s nap time.
At first your kids will probably be on different sleep schedules. When the babies nap and Monster is awake, that is our special momma and son time. It has become routine around here that when the girls go to bed for their first nap of the day (10 a.m.), we make smoothies and go cuddle on the couch. After that he plays or we do special activities. Baby nap time is a great time to make a special routine for just the two of you (three if Hubs is home).
Just the two of you get out of the house together.
Leave the new one(s) at home with Daddy or someone else. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Go to the library. Run some errands. This is difficult for me because it’s not very often that I get to leave the house alone. But we always have fun when it’s just the two of us.
Keep his routine as normal as possible.
When the twins came home it felt like utter chaos descended upon the house. I think what saved us was keeping Monster’s routine and schedule the same. We’ve never changed his bedtime routine. He still gets his one-on-one time with either Mommy or Daddy (his choice). We cuddle, read a book, talk a bit, then he goes to bed.
We also still have family dinners. It would have been easier at first to throw some food at the boy and eat later, but we made sure to sit down together and eat as a family. Before the girls were eating solid foods, we tried to make sure they were occupied while we ate. They played in their swings, baby gyms, and bouncers. Sometimes (more often than not), Hubs and I would end up eating with one hand and holding a wiggly baby with the other arm. That just made it more fun.
Get him involved in taking care of the baby(ies).
It didn’t take me long to figure this one out. If he wanted my attention but I was busy taking care of one of his sisters, I learned to say “I can’t do that right now, but how about you help me instead?” I found so many little things he could do to help with the babies, and he felt so proud for helping. He helped shake up their bottles, retrieved burp cloths, put diapers in the diaper pail, and put their clothes in the hamper. If he didn’t want to help I invited him to come sit on the couch with us while sister had her bottle.
Let him participate in big kid or adult activities with you.
With three kids, my time for household chores has shrunk… a lot. What’s helped is letting him partake in the “fun.” He has a toy vacuum that he follows me around with. I give him a dusting rag and let him dust every surface in sight. It would be easier to just do it myself (and my inner control freak might calm down a little), but this way I get to spend time with him, and he gets to learn some responsibilities.
If you’re not too much of a control freak (I’m working on this), let him help you cook. Monster loves watching. However, his idea of helping is eating half of all the vegetables I chop. If I need bell peppers for dinner, I have to chop almost twice as much as I need (his daddy “helps” a lot with those, too).
Staying connected with my son has been one of my top priorities since his sisters arrived. I never wanted him to feel left out or unloved. I guess we’ve been doing it right because he seems even happier since his sisters came along. And I don’t feel like we’ve lost any of that closeness we had before the twins arrived. Sometimes it seems that all my worries were silly, but I wouldn’t be a mom if I didn’t worry.