So, congratulations! In a little while, you will be a mama to the new baby! You and your husband are thrilled but you are worried about your precious daughter/ son who is now in Pre-School or Kindergarten. What will her/ his reaction be? Is he/she ready to adjust to the newborn?You are right to worry, you know.
This little person has been the apple of your eye, your husband’s ‘living doll’ and her grandparents’ ‘angel’. I am just going to stick with ‘she’ but it includes your little ‘he’ as well. How would she view sharing all that attention which has been just hers? Believe me, she won’t like it one bit.
- Before you share the news with her, you and your spouse should rehearse what you intend to say and decide who will break the news.
- Be prepared for shock, horror and rejection. Just ignore it and continue to act as if nothing has happened. Continue to shower your love and cuddle her as usual.
- Sooner or later, curiosity will bring her to you to ask questions. Common ones are, ‘Where is the baby now?’, ‘I don’t want it. Can we send it away?’ ‘I don’t want a brother, can I have a sister instead?’
- Answer all the questions as honestly as possible. But please, don’t go into gory details — you may end up scaring her! Underscore the fact that she was the first one to go through all that this new little one will face. She was the pioneer.
- Start referring to it as her baby, her little brother or sister, God’s gift to her (not religious? No problem, change it to Love’s gift to her).
- The most exciting thing is picking a name for little babykins. Whether you want it or not, everyone is going to pitch in with their recommendation. Run them all by her. Let her feel she has a big say in the matter.
- Unless you have been surprisingly wise, you would have given away many of the baby clothes, pram, bed, etc. And unless your name is Midas or Kuber, buying all those things will burn a hole in your pocket and sear the older one’s heart too. She is bound to be jealous as hell. Your girl pals and female relatives cooing over the purchases will worsen the situation.
Do buy a few small things for the older child too. But the ideal solution is to ask friends and family for their kid’s hand me downs. Then you can safely buy a thing or two for your older one. But, and this is a really big ‘but’, don’t buy her everything she wants in a guilt-ridden way. You will go broke and she will become a sulky, spoilt brat.
- Dad should slowly take over the caregiving…packing her bag to school, making some easy snacks for her, expanding the ‘Mom and Me’ time to include himself…this will prevent her from getting scared and shocked when Mom goes off to hospital. Please do include Granny and Granddad every now and then because they may become the main caregivers when Mom is in hospy and Dad is rushing from work to home and hospital.
- Let her touch Mom’s belly, especially when the baby kicks about. Ask her to talk about her day in school etc., and assure her, her wee sibling is probably hearing everything. Emphasize the fun aspect of being ‘the big’ sister who will be the baby’s mentor!
- Talking about bellies, Mom, start massaging a good oil on your stomach the moment the bulge starts to show. In fact, it can be a fab family bonding thing — Dad massages Mom’s tum, child rubs oil on Dad’s nape (hurting from bending over the smartphone) and Mom and Dad, finally rub down the youngster’s arms and legs…lots of the chance for many a laugh!
- In spite of all this, all your preparation, she may start throwing tantrums to go to school, refuse to eat, misbehave, etc. Just keep cool. Stay as calm as possible and insist she goes to school. That will give you and your mom a much-needed break from pussyfooting around her and she gets to be in an environment she is used to and comfortable with (I am assuming your Mom or your Mom-in-law will come to help).
- Take the teacher into confidence: visit the school a couple of times too. The teacher will do her best to keep her cheery and happy. Let Dad spend more time with her and, finally when necessary, be firm with her. There is no need to let her bully you!
- The seeds of resentment between siblings are often sown in these first months. If you are aware and take steps to prevent it, you will be rewarded to see the relationship between your two children flourish and grow from strength to strength.