But, of all the unpredictables, of all the unknowns, a three-year-old seems to trump them all. When he's good, he's pride- and joy-inducing. When he's not, well, he's a three-year-old. We all know what that means, right? So, we already know that it's a crapshoot as far as which version of our son will rise to the top when he meets his new sibling. We've had plenty of conversations about what’s about to happen, and we’re proud that he’s already been including the baby in his vocabulary and life (say, when he lists his best friends, it’s “Mommy, Daddy, and baby”). Sure, we think he may be a tad upset if it’s not a boy, but he’s also so starved for a playmate that I think the shock will wear off. But, while the little one is, well, little and pretty much helpless and Hadley’s a relatively high-maintenance toddler, I’m trying to do some of that aforementioned preparation to handle things. Here are some “tips” that I’m hoping to implement, if and when needed.- Dole out the responsibilities. We’re lucky that he’s always been a helper. It took awhile to get him not to melt down over putting toys away, but over time he became quite adept at small tasks here and there. And with plenty of kind praise and hugs, he seems to truly stand up straighter with confidence and, dare I say, enjoy the simple jobs we ask of him. So, this will most likely continue. I already refer to him as my “Helper Boy”, but now just small things like grabbing a burp cloth for me will bring him into the baby scenario (rather than viewing it from the outside). He also knows that, as the baby grows, it’s his job to share his gifts: his ability to make anyone and everyone laugh, his huge vocabulary, his ABCs and counting, and his vast knowledge of all things superhero (among other random facts). - Create special moments. I already know that my husband will step up to the plate and spend lots of extra time with our buddy to do special things together after the baby comes. But, I also know how important it is that I work hard to do the same. We’ve cultivated such a warm, special relationship, I’d hate to lose that while working to do the same with our new sweetie. So, whether it’s just a brief “date” to his favorite restaurant or heading to the store together for some one-on-one time, it’s on the docket. I’ve also got a few simple holiday ideas that we can do as a family (like viewing Christmas lights) or as a one-on-one activity (like making cut-out cookies). I’m looking forward to those more than I am the actual holidays. Plus, we’ve got tons of family that he loves to see, so I foresee a fun sleepover or two in his near future. He’s asked plenty, so it’s time to let his little wings stretch a bit. - Allow for greater independence. There are times and places that we’ve seen Hadley as an INCREDIBLE independent player. But, at home, it’s not always like this. So, I’m hoping to develop this through the plethora of “Quiet Time Activities” I’ve stumbled upon on Pinterest. From simple fine motor tasks like stringing beads or toilet paper tubes to a coloring page to a sorting game, handing over a special, “just for him” activity (especially during nursing or while I’m trying to get the little one down for a nap) will help both of us achieve a tad more independence. I’m also thinking of making a handful of healthy snack options available within his reach that, after asking and receiving permission, he can choose from. Sometimes even small choices and giving an individual their own option does huge things. - Allow for (and breathe through) setbacks. Our little man is about 95% potty-trained. The only time he has an issue is when his grandmother (who watches him everyday) has our little nephew to care for. Our guy completely reverts on those days. And, when I ask him about it, he tries hard to explain - hands flailing, words cut short by stutters. I totally get it, the poor buddy. He’s not doing it to be spiteful. He’s not proud that he’s not wearing his Flash underpants from the morning. It’s all psychological and he just can’t figure it out. I’m guessing it has something to do with his ability to take control of a situation, even if it’s in a not-great way. So, at those times when we most want to yell or pull our hair out or punish, it’s just as important for parents to take a deep breath and consider what the child’s going through. It’s bound to happen and he needs to hear that he’s still loved and valued - but that we’d like him to just keep trying his best. And, isn’t that all any of us can do? WHAT ABOUT YOU GUYS? DID YOU DO ANYTHING SPECIAL TO PREPARE A LITTLE ONE FOR THE ARRIVAL OF A SECOND (OR THIRD, OR FOURTH, OR…) CHILD? I’D LOVE TO HEAR!
We can't control every single situation 100% of the time. Heck, I'm sure even saying 50% is generous. So, while I try not to sweat the small stuff or the things that I literally have no say over, my general rule of thumb is to prepare, whenever possible. In my current case, this has almost everything to do with our bundle of joy, expected to arrive this Friday (via planner C-section). I've had a lot going on at work and with my husband's work, so I'm finally reaching the point of, "I've done all I can; it'll have to work." And it will, because life has a way of handling things. Mostly. ;-) And all the baby worries that could pop up - will the baby be healthy, will s/he take to breastfeeding, what have we forgotten to do? Let’s call it blind faith, but I’m pretty relaxed about it all. If there’s a situation, we’ll take a deep breath and deal with it. Again, such is life.