In just a few short days (!!!!), little man's life is probably going to be thrown upside down for a little while.
He is used to having either my or DH's attention 100% of the time. When we are home with him for our days off- which right now is 4-5 days a week- we follow his schedule to a T. Basically everything we've done so far in his little life, with our schedule, has been to preserve his sleep habits. Because he's always been such an excellent sleeper, DH & I didn't want to throw him off his great schedule.
Sure, there have been times that we've had to wake him early, put him to a nap or bed late, or even skip a nap- things happen and sometimes it is out of our control as parents and we just have to go with the flow. But- overall, we've really tried to preserve his schedule as much as we can.
While we will try our best to keep him on his schedule, we obviously understand that bringing a new baby into the picture is going to blur the lines of normal for little man for quite some time, especially in the beginning when there will be many doctor's appointments, visitors, and overall more things to do. However, in saying that, we will plan the new baby appointments around his nap schedule instead of hers. Because- as most of you parents know- planning around a newborn's schedule is like trying to win the lottery, you never seem to win!
It is also going to be a huge adjustment for him that we can't give him 100% of our attention 100% of the time when little lady comes home. It's, sadly, just not possible.
Many parents discuss preparing their older child for a new addition to the family by reading books, talking about changes that may happen, and roll-playing situations with toys. We've done a little bit of that- but honestly, little man is quite young to be able to understand fully because he isn't even two years old.
Little man has been really good at diapering, rocking, swinging, and being gentle with his dolls. We've also been working on what toys and equipment (swing, bouncy seat, crib, etc.) are "baby's" things. We've started to use the terms of "Little man's room" versus "Baby's room" or "the nursery." Little man also sees babies frequently in day care and will identify babies in car seats or strollers at the store, which we've tried to link to pointing to my belly. (I don't think he quite gets that part yet, but we're trying just in case!)
The main planning we've done for little man in relation to little lady's arrival is to work on the art of distraction. Knowing what kind of a child he is- distraction is the BEST tool at the moment to help us move quickly away from a toddler tantrum. So, we're stocking up on new items and toys to help. Thankfully, as Christmas is approaching, little man will have several new toys shortly to help us occupy him when little lady needs attention. I believe for Christmas he is getting a vacuum cleaner, an art easel, a play gym with swing and slide, and a letter magnet set. We've also purchased a few new books, DVD's (because even some days now we need a little Curious George!), and small toys. Also, since his birthday is coming up in February, his amazing grandparents purchased him a play kitchen and we're going about getting all the accessories that go with (pots, pans, play food, plates, silverware, cups, etc.).
A friend of mine with two babes around the same age range has also given me some great ideas of excellent play opportunities to keep little man happy, such as letting little man "paint" the tub with washable paints, doing sensory play like rice, or even having him 'sort' cotton balls into ice cube trays. There are tons of new games and toys we can make up just from things we have around the house!
So, he will certainly have some great fine and gross motor skill toys to play when we're having a rough day. I plan to keep these in separate rooms and play areas so that he doesn't have access to all of the toys all of the time and they'll have novelty when we play them.
One of the other main things I plan to do is just be with little man.
I know that there are going to be days where it's rough. I expect that. I'm sure after full nights of being up all night with little lady, when she naps I'm going to want to plunk that DVD in and turn on cartoons or sit little man in front of a new toy and lay my head on the couch.
But, again, knowing my child- that's not what he needs. He is going to need time with just the two of us. He's going to need to cuddle. He's going to need to sit in my lap while he's playing a toy to fulfill his need of my being physically present with him. He's going to need me to sit with him during his snacks and talk about the ducks in the pond behind our house.
He's just going to need me.
And that's okay!
Even when he was little, I recognized very early on that he will only stay so little for so long. Even if I'm exhausted, if I can have a half hour more of bonding with my child, I'll take that any day over a nap.
Thankfully, I do have an extremely supportive husband who is excellent at giving me breaks and me time, so I know that when I do need a break, both little man & little lady will be getting just as much attention as they're used to. (Love you DH!)
But, pretty much, that's all we're planning and doing to prepare little man for the new baby. No complicated story we're reading every night. No big plan for other family or friends to be taking him out or away from our home to give "him" a break from the situation. No fancy rewards for his being helpful or patient- just a pretty simple, straightforward plan and a few things to aid in distraction when days get tough.
What have you/had you done to prepare your first child for their new sibling? How did your transition go?