From Only to Oldest

By Jessi at The Coffee Mom

When my husband and I found out I was pregnant with our second, we were over the moon! We had wanted a second baby for a while and finally decided that the timing was right to add another bundle of joy into our family.  Our older daughter, Willow, was just about to turn three when we found out I was pregnant. While she did not seem to fully grasp the concept, she seemed to understand that we would be bringing home a new baby and that she would be a big sister. Her excitement was limited at first, in part because of her age and probably in part because I was not showing yet and we did not know a gender yet.

Flash forward a few months and it was finally time to find out if we would be adding a baby brother or baby sister to our house! My mother was the only person who knew the gender at the time of our reveal. My husband and I were taken into our yard, blindfolded, and given squeeze jars of paint which contained either pink or blue paint which we were to attack each other with. The paint was cold and neither one of us could see anything, we could only hear the cheers of our friends and family as they watched us throw paint at each other, even Willow got in the mix and started to quirt us with paint. After what felt like forever, out blindfolds were removed and we realized we were all covered in BLUE paint! It was a boy!

Willow’s excitement began to grow as she knew now that she would have a brother. The larger my belly got the more her excitement grew. I had to explain to her that I did not eat her brother though, that was an awkward conversation with a three year old. She talked about her little brother constantly, to anyone who would listen! Her daycare told me she told them all about him on a daily basis. Because of her excitement I started to think that the transition would be easy. With as excited as she was, I thought there was NO WAY she would have any difficulty adjusting to her baby brother coming home and that life would be simple and smooth (Oh boy was I WRONG)

After returning home from the hospital with our new son, everything seemed to fall into place easily at first. The first week or so was a blur, the lack of sleep from a newborn and still trying to give my daughter equal attention, it was draining to say the least. I knew Willow was not getting the attention she needed or deserved, and she started acting out because of it. Of course I began to scour Pinterest for any advice on the transition from one to two that I could, but nothing seemed to really work for us.  Willow’s behavior got so bad that she was actually asked not to return to her daycare! That was my breaking point. I felt like a failure as a mother because I could not get my child’s attitude in check, I was failing a juggling a new baby and older child, I was stressed to the max and did not see how I was going to handle this one.

Everything I read online, I tried, and none of it seemed to really work. I was giving her extra time and special attention. I was trying my best to include her in the care of her brother (diapering, bathing, and dressing him), which she enjoyed. I would have my husband watch the baby while I tried to spend some one on one time with her doing crafts or playing in her room. We explained how Luca is just a baby and needs extra attention from mommy right now but that he won’t be a baby forever.  While all of the aforementioned tactics seemed to work for periods of time, she would still revert back to crying, throwing, whining, etc. when she did not get her way.

It finally clicked with me one day, no matter how hard my husband and I try; her life will never be the same as it was before. She would never be the center of attention again, never be the only child again, this was her new normal and she was adjusting. Part of the “issue” has honestly been her age. At three (almost four now), her tiny little self has all of these big emotions and isn’t truly sure how to express them yet. This s true of ANY 3 year old, not only one who has recently added a new dibbling to the mix. They test their boundaries and push your buttons, but it is part of their learning process. As my son has gotten a little older, we have been able to devote even more time to doing special things with just Willow, and things seem to be evening out in our house (FINALLY).

The best advice I can give to any parent who is adding a new baby to the family, is simply to be patient! The older child (or children) are going to have an adjustment period, which may be rocky, and that is perfectly normal. I do recommend letting someone else hold the baby while you spend at least a little time one-on-one with your older child. While Willow STILL has her little attitude problem, I have to realize she is almost four and her whole world changed about three and a half months ago so it is going to take time for her to fully adjust to this new family normal. Children crave your time and company, and they have a very hard time dealing with big emotions at a young age, so it is up to us as parents to ensure our children are given the proper emotional tools. Sometimes a child just needs to cry and then be spoken to about why they were, see if we can help them navigate these new feelings they are surely experiencing. Going from one child to two has been an emotional roller coaster, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!