Pondering in my heart the days when our family was just beginning, my heart was drawn to the memories of blessed arrivals. Each of the children reacted differently to the idea of another sibling; one was elated, simply overjoyed at the thought of a brother or sister to love; the other was not so impressed. Each time a baby was announced in our family- it was a joyous celebration, and a time to educate.
Sharing the news of an upcoming blessing was a time of joy and happiness; and it happened rather quickly for us. In our first five years of marriage, we had five babies. For me, it seemed a great responsibility to prepare the little ones for the next arrival. I wanted my toddlers to grow and develop a positive attitude and loving heart toward the new baby before the arrival. Guiding my toddlers toward a special relationship with this new baby began from the moment of announcement.
Unfortunately for me, morning sickness was a plague that lasted nearly all nine months. My favorite memory during this time is my oldest following me to the bathroom and sitting in the cabinet - just wanting to be near me. After, she would bring me towels and blankets to help me and the baby feel better.
The greatest difficulty for me was bringing a new one home. Trying to get enough rest, tend needs, and keep the siblings from feeling left out- this was exhausting. I tried to involve my children as much as possible in the care and love of a new baby. My girls often brought puzzles or dolls to play with while I was nursing the baby. I would hold the baby in one arm, and play with the other...sometimes I can't believe what I accomplished!
In every home some jealously will occur..it did in ours. Yet at the end of the day their true heart would be revealed. Each of my girls (who accepted a younger baby so differently) showed special heart for their younger siblings. When a baby was in the crib at night, my girls would slip out of their beds and lay down with their pillows and blankets on the floor near the baby crib. Eventually I put a toddler bed in the baby room and always found the girls there when I went for late night feedings.
I realize now that while trying to educate my toddlers in loving a new family member, I also taught them how to nurture and care for others. They learned early the value of human life..that they were treasured and loved by their parents and by God. In this time, I was being educated..to be selfless, to multitask creatively, to be sensitive to other's feelings and needs. Adding a sibling is educating for each of us. Here are a few things I learned.
Points to Ponder When Adding a Sibling
1. Be positive. This is a joyous time and our attitude will be contagious. Share with your child in the love and preparation as much as possible. Be open to their questions and answer at their level.
2. Make time count. A little jealousy goes a long way; be sure to continue fostering your time and relationship with the children you already have..they still need you. After the arrival, continue to keep vital parts of your child's routine. Stability and security are so important.
3. Be open. Watch for those precious memories being made- treasure the bond developing in your family. Share in the bad days when they come and look forward to the better ones.
Most importantly, remember- you are going to miss this. I know there are days when I do. The difficult days of sibling rivalry and sleepless nights will change and grow and then be gone. Treasure where you are because before you know it- they grow when you're not looking!