Photo Credit: INFphoto.com
New mom of three Jennifer Garner was recently spotted out with daughter Violet, 6, and it seemed clear that the new big sister was in full-on pretend Mommy Mode, toting her doll in a toy baby carrier. We're gonna take a wild guess that the baby dolls and gear are in high-rotation at the Affleck house since the birth of baby brother Samuel on Feb. 27.
When my son was born, our daughter was almost four years old and her playtime maternal instinct kicked in as soon as we brought him home -- she wanted to hold him, feed him and entertain him almost constantly. It was both hilarious and unbearably sweet, but it wasn't all sunshine and giggles -- my big girl shed plenty of tears when I had to ask her to wait for my attention.
Adding another child to the family brings so much joy, but it can also lead to very real feelings of displacement for the older siblings. Splitting yourself between a newborn and big sister or brother can be a challenge, but there are some simple ways to make sure you still get some quality alone time in with your big kids. Here's how.
Take a time out. We know how hard it is to handle a new baby and their older sibling -- and how exhausting. But, it is absolutely essential to spend time with your big kids. Pass the baby off to Dad or another family member and spend even just 10 minutes dedicated to your older children. Help your big kid feel like a priority by letting her overhear you telling baby that you’re busy with big brother: "I'm sorry, Baby, but I need to play with your brother right now."
Put Dad on duty. Spending special time with Dad during the transition -- a smart move the Affleck family is making, as you can see in these pics on Celebrity Baby Scoop -- will reassure your child that he or she is still valued and loved. A special outing, a game of catch in the yard or even just some time cuddled up with a book can help those (completely normal) growing pains, according to American Academy of Pediatrics.
Enlist the troops. Take advantage of your support network -- be it Grandma, Auntie or a good family friend. Ask them to come over and tend to baby while you spend some special time with your big kid. And we'll mention that it can be special time for Mom, too -- the big sibs we know don't mind a trip to Starbucks or a quick mani.
Hire some extra hands. Not every mom is comfortable leaving her newborn with a babysitter, but hiring a "mother's helper" can give you someone to watch the baby while you play a game with your oldest in the next room. A mother's helper can also give your big sib some extra attention while you take care of the baby. Even a teen is right for this job, since you don't need a super-skilled sitter when you're in the next room.
Remember the rituals. Are you the one who always does tuck-in time? Do you manage the evening bath? Continue those special rituals, even if it means that you need to enlist help (hey, Dad!) with baby while you do so. Sticking to the routine not only gives you extra time alone with big sib, it also sends a signal that not everything has changed.
Need more guidance? Click here to learn about 19 things no one told us about having baby #2 here.