What To Do When New Sibling Life Feels Coo Coo
My children are now 3 and 6 years old, and so we’re officially on to new joys and challenges. Yet whenever a friend has a new baby, or I hear parents sharing in RIE parent-infant classes, I’m instantly reminded what it was like to be at home with a baby and toddler.
I remember sweet days with lots of play and cuddles. Diaper changes were done with “ceremonious slowness” and our favorite time was when I’d sit with my coffee and watch them play.
There was that one day when I nursed my baby while my toddler painted on the porch with the birdies chirping, and everything felt perfect.
But let’s be honest. We’re all friends here, right?
Some days, even weeks, were just plain coo coo. Even with all my respectful parenting practices.
There was toddler jealousy while I nursed the baby, and feeling triggered by small things which had me yelling so loud I’m pretty sure the neighbors heard me. There was a day when I left my full shopping cart in the middle of the store and left with two screaming children…
It really is that hard somedays.
It’s not because we’re doing it all wrong. We are doing absolutely amazeballs, even if it doesn’t feel that way some days.
What I do know for sure, when we add more mindfulness to our days with a new sibling, we get very knowledgeable about what is and isn’t working.
We can decide to start over and approach family life with a fresh mindset. Even if it’s not what the neighbors are doing.
Maybe we try slowing the day down a bit. We skip the extra things that exhaust us all, and begin to observe our children more. Then the a-ha moments come at rapid speed!
It might feel like a good time to be really present with our children. We put our cell phones away and even tell them, “I’m putting my phone away because I really want to enjoy our time together.”
We schedule more time for play, and get inspired to create play spaces that are perfect for exploring and learning. We make it safe and ensure that each child can freely move and play with what interests them. As they grow, we don’t have to demand they share their toys and see their toy struggles as age appropriate learning experiences. We stay close to block any aggression, and sportscast instead.
We might observe our toddler more closely, and see that she’s in need of some Special Time. Or perhaps we see her demands from a different perspective. It’s no longer a nuisance that needs to be disciplined. We start to see it as a healthy way for her to cope with the new sibling that’s rocked her world. So instead we gently and lovingly set limits, and then make space for the big feelings that come.
We remember how frazzled everyone gets when caregiving times are rushed. We start to slow down during these times too, and invite our children to be part of the process. Diaper changes, bath times, and mealtimes become favorite times of day full of eye contact and communicating to one another. We might even try entering a conversation with our baby because we see how our baby responds to our cues.
Our own feelings are important too. We skip the negative self-talk that we’re not good enough mothers, and instead talk sweet to ourselves, like we would a best friend. Or our own inner-child.
This can be, “What’s going on, sweetie? I know it’s hard right now. You are still are an amazing mother. I love you.” This simple act can calm us down and helps us to feel more understood and appreciated for all we do. Because why wait for someone to tell us what we can tell ourselves, you know?
So then life might regain a little more flow. We can hear the birdies chirp again and we feel a little more confident that all is well. Maybe the next grocery store trip goes a little better and someone compliments you on your beautiful family.
Then life gets coo coo again and we start this process over again. I’m on start-over round 100 over here! No biggie, sweet friend. The start-overs are part of family life too.
Cheering you on,
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