Changes are in store for the Letusick household. Another mouth to feed. More toys scattered around my house.
Little Man is already into his old baby toys that we got out for the new baby. He told me the other day that he didn't need to pick up the baby's toys that he had scattered all over the floor because they weren't his. But when I asked him who it was that got them out, he knew he had lost the battle and picked them up.
The new baby isn't even here yet, and he's already playing the "They're not mine!" game. Little Man is excited about the idea of a baby brother. But will he be as excited once the baby arrives and takes some of (most of at first) mommy's time?
Another change coming is Mommy has to learn to balance her time. While the baby is going to draw most of my attention, I have to balance it with time for Little Man as well. We bought a new recliner so Little Man and I can rock the baby together. Heck, it's so big my husband and I could rock the baby together. But, aside from that, I have to make special time for just me and Little Man. I also have to remember to make time for myself so I don't go crazy. And, let's not forget time for my husband. I don't think there is enough time in the day to do all I will need to get done.
And I suppose the advice I got the first time around is going to be moot this time. "Sleep when he sleeps." Sure. Little Man will let that happen. Baby Boy might get to nap and be rested to keep Mommy up all night, but this mommy is very unlikely to have the same luxury, unless I figure out a way to get a 4-year-old to nap. Hmmm.
When I thought about the above situations, I wondered how other parents dealt with the same issues. So I asked. Many people were very helpful and even offered tips on how to handle things I don't think I ever would have thought of.
Nancy, mother of three: I think the biggest adjustment is having the first one. After that the rest of the kids just fall into place.
Leslie, mother of three: First and foremost, enjoy. Let the older brother help. Make individual time for each of them. (Even though you are exhausted)
Angela, mother of three: When expecting another, I always make sure to involve the older ones in preparation to a point that it feels like "his" baby, too. That way he's excited about the baby and not jealous.
Erin, mother of four: When the baby is asleep, you need to rest as well. Carve out 10 minutes with your 4-year-old to make him feel special (puzzles or coloring) and then sleep/rest. Mom guilt can make you very tired. Also, never say to your child that you can't do something because the baby needs you right now for such and such. Say, "Mommy needs to do this right now. I will help you in 5 minutes." My oldest would get upset with the baby when I would say I couldn't play with him because the baby needed something. He was more understanding if I rephrased it to say I needed to do whatever. Have drinks and snacks ready for the oldest so when feeding time comes for the baby the oldest is not needing you to stop and take care of their hunger/thirst.
Angela, mother of three: When unloading from a car, always take your oldest out last. And reverse loading the car. There's less chance of him walking away from your car while loading the youngest.
Erika, mother of two: Lots of wine
Emily, mother of two: The best advice I can give is to keep everything as routine and normal for your 4-year-old. Sometimes this can be challenging since babies are unpredictable. I found my oldest being in preschool gave him time away from home and baby, and it was a lifesaver. Try to spend one-on-one time with him even if it's only half an hour. Let him help as much as he's interested, like get diapers or help with bottles or bath time. Keep them both on a nap time schedule and daily routine as much as possible. It will be down time or nap time for you.
Krissie, mother of two: If they both need you at same time, make sure baby is safe and then tend to the older one. The baby won't remember, but the older one will. They may start to get angry at baby if you are always saying you have to get the baby, hold the baby or feed the baby. Make time for just the older one at least once a day. Have them help with little tasks like getting toys, singing songs, etc.
Tracy, mother of two: My daughters are 4 years apart, and it was great. My oldest always wanted to help and was perfect for running to get me diapers or wipes. I also found the 2's to not be so terrible with my youngest because she had someone to play with.
Ryan, father of three: Teach your 4-year-old to change diapers.
Danielle, mother of three: Don't put yourself on a guilt trip. When I had my second, we were so used to it being just me and the oldest that I felt bad for having to take time away from her. She didn't mind that Daddy was helping her out more, but it really bothered me. And everyone turned out OK, so I worried and felt bad for nothing.
Sarah, mother of two: Set aside time for your 4-year-old. Leave the baby with daddy or grandparent(s) and take him somewhere like the store or park or just hang out at home without worrying about your new little one.
Judy, mother of two: Make time for the older one. Make him feel special when the baby comes home. Let him help out with things he can do.
Charlie, father of two: Bourbon! 1/2 shot for both kids and a triple shot for you.
Destiny, mother of four: When we brought the kids to see the new baby or even bringing he/she home, we made T-shirts of big sister/big brother, and I brought a present to the hospital for older ones from the new baby. It actually comes together once you're home and settled. Just make mommy time for both, alone and together, too! It will come natural.
Nichole, mother of two: My piece of advice is stick to a schedule. I put the baby down for naps and bed around the same time on a daily basis. I also really like the carrier wraps. I use a wrap to carry her around. Most importantly get your sleep when you can with a newborn. Don't worry about cleaning -sleep is more important. And try to take care of yourself.
Helen, great-grandmother of 15: Just let him help you as much as he can. Bring diapers to you, take the old ones to where they belong. He can even hold the bottle to help feed him. Let Daddy take him on a one-on-one adventure even if it is just shopping. You can do that, too.
I plan to put these tips (most of them anyway) to good use over the coming months. Hopefully, my oldest son will adjust well to the new baby. But you can be sure that my husband and I will do our best to help him adapt to the changes coming to our house.
Yes, changes are in store for the Letusick household. But, this is the best kind of change anyone could ask for.
And now, I bid you farewell as I embark on maternity leave. No matter how long or how short that leave is, I will miss writing this weekly column. That is if I have time to miss it...
Note: For those interested, there will be a column once the baby is here. I don't know for sure when, but please be watching.
(Letusick, a resident of Rayland, is a copy editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)