Ditch the Comparisons.
Every pregnancy, birth, and baby follows its own unique pathway. While it’s so easy to do, comparing our children, adds no value to our lives. Processing our previous birth and early parenting with our first child (ren), can help wipe the slate clean before venturing into a new world. Consider talking, writing or other forms of “therapy” to help your processing experience.
Keep up your own self care.
In her book The Fourth Trimester Kimberly Ann Johnson encourages new parents to, “remember what brings you joy”. Life changes immensely with every human you bring into your life. But you matter too - remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup! Make a list of experiences that make you feel whole - maybe it’s fresh air, a hot shower, or finishing a hot cup of tea. Try to fit at least one of them in to each day.
Spend some time in your relationship with your partner.
The hustle and bustle of parenting life is ongoing. And often times our relationships get put on the backburner. Just like your own self care, your relationship is going to sustain you and your family. Together with your partner, make a list of the things that make your relationship feel whole. This can be as simple as a daily hug or more ambitious, like weekly or monthly dates (these might be stay at home and watch a movie type dates). As a team, aim to keep the momentum going, as well as the communication lines open.
Harness empathy for yourself and your little one.
When our children respond negatively it is not because they are trying to being bad. Most often, it’s because it doesn’t feel good to their body, and they are still learning how to articulate their feelings and thoughts.
If you find your child is having a hard time with the new transition, try pausing and breathing together, and wholly acknowledge their feelings. As author L.R. Knost puts it so well, “When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.”
With that said, it is totally normal to find yourself going through a whole range of emotions, when a new child comes into your life - you are human after all! Acknowledging our own emotions and communicating about them with our children, can go a long way. The reaction after your initial action, is sometimes even more impactful.
You may find solace in affirmations or breathing exercises - these are proven to positively affect our mind frame.
And remember - you are enough, you’re accomplishing an incredible feat, and you’ve totally got this!
For more information on this topic, I highly recommend checking out these resources:
How to Introduce a New Baby to a Toddler, Sarah Ockwell Smith
The Second Baby Book, Sarah Ockwell Smith (currently available on amazon.co.uk but should be coming to North America soon!)
Sibling Transition Downloadable E-Book, Aha Parenting