Since we found out we were pregnant, we have been thinking about how to prepare George for his big brother status.
Our plan was to fully potty train and move him to a big boy room months before Daphne was born. We wanted to have him play with baby dolls and have all of her baby stuff in place well before so he could get used to the idea.
We talked about Sister every day and read books about being a big brother. Because of the house renovation and her early arrival the only thing that did happen outside of talking about her was his potty training. We had the best intentions, but our situation got in the way. But I will say, potty training is a HUGE accomplishment, so I will take that as a win.
We had no room to move him to, and we weren’t going to set up a big boy room twice in two different spaces. We also didn’t bring most of her stuff out of the basement until a couple weeks before because we didn’t want the construction dust to get all over it and for it to be in the way since we were already limited on space with our closet storage being taken away for the time being. We also never got around to getting a baby doll, so there’s that.
Our sitter was amazing and picked up in some areas where we lacked. He did play with baby dolls there. And fortunately for us, she also took on two infants this winter. So he had the opportunity to be around two small baby girls. Our sitter did a great job having George “help,” and he took his job of being a baby guard very seriously. It takes a village…
Anyway, we really just hoped for the best when we made the actual adjustment.
When we brought Sister home, he mostly ignored her. He would give her kisses when we asked, but he really didn’t seem to notice her. Those first couple days, the mornings were a little rough as far as the need for our attention. We could not leave the room without sheer panic from George. He had to see us at all times. He was very clingy when we first woke up, but as the day wore on he became Mr. Independent again.
We have taken him to the sitter’s most days to have some consistency, but also so we can actually get stuff done around the house since we are still finishing up the renovation project. It is also nice to just focus on Daphne during the day. I think this has really helped George though because the sitter is normal for him. He is getting the same attention he always does. Plus it’s nice for him to be around other kids his age.
A couple days after we got home from the hospital, we transitioned him to his big boy room. He had been playing in it for a few weeks so he knew it was his room. We honestly didn’t talk about the big boy bed very much. We just kind of threw him in that first night, and we haven’t looked back. He made one comment about his crib being in sister’s room. After explaining it was now Sister’s, he has never said anything about it again. He does take the books off the bookshelf saying that they are his, so there is still some room to grow. Looking back, it is kind of like his new room was a big present for him after Daphne was born, so it has kind of worked for us in this regards.
He has been doing great in the big bed. He absolutely loves it. We have really lucked out with such a good sleeper. Once we put him in the bed, he doesn’t get up until we come and get him in the morning. Seriously lucky parents. He does bang on the wall in the morning to let us know that he is awake, but he will stay in his bed. We have yet to experience the creepy toddler eyes hovering over you in your own bed. He is so good! Nap time is the same way as well. It has been such a smooth transition for us. Apparently avoiding it until the last moment worked for us.
Now three weeks later after bringing Daphne home and changing rooms, he pays a little more attention to Sister. He points out when she is crying. He tries to rock her when she cries and pats her belly and sings to her. Our only real issue is that he tries to rock her a little too hard and tickle a little too forcefully. For the most part though, he is very gentle with her. He is very interested in breastfeeding, but he also understands that he will have to wait for most things if I am feeding her. (He has taken my nursing pads a couple times and put them on his own chest.) The only time that breastfeeding is an issue is when he has to go potty. We have had just a couple accidents though, which I can’t really blame him too much. He has been more upset about them than I was. We have had a few more tantrums, however it is hard to know if it is because of Daphne or just the fact that he is an almost 3 year old. However, since Daphne was born, he has had no timeouts at the sitter’s and very minimal with us. I also think that he has had another language explosion since she was born. I think this has helped us with diffusing the tantrums a little more rapidly because we are able to talk through them more effectively. It was like he knew we needed to understand him more. His speech has really amplified these past few weeks.
I will say that Tom and I have tried our best to do two things with George.
One we have kept him on the same schedule. He still has the same morning and bed time routine. We are still taking him to the sitter during the week around the same times. We still expect the same things out of him, and give him roles throughout the day. He knows there is a pattern to his day. I think this is so important that we made this a priority so he had that consistency. Especially as a toddler, having him think that not much had changed made all of our lives easier. While it may be different than what most articles out there say, I think it was impactful that we didn’t make a big deal out of the change of a sister and a new room. It made it seem like everything was normal that we just carried on as before.
Second, we have been very intentional about doing things with George by himself. I play puzzles and read books with him, but I make sure that Sister is not in the same room so he knows that I am focused on him. Tom has taken him to hardware stores and spent time digging in our yard with little plastic dump trucks. He also took him George fishing for the first time! This has been so important in an effort to make it clear to George that Daphne is not taking his place.
I think that those two things are the reason that we have had minimal issues. Now, I have no idea if this is how other people should prepare for a baby number two. It has just worked for us. I really don’t recommend doing a renovation at the same time, so obviously our circumstances are different than most. I do propose that you try to make time for the big sibling and keep as much of a routine as possible. I think a lot will depend on your lifestyle and how old the big siblings are. George is two and a half, so what we did with him may not be helpful for a 5 year old sibling.
All in all, we have been very fortunate that George is such a good kid (mom brag). We have been wondering if the other shoe will drop though, so we take every good day as a blessing!
I can’t wait to see how these two grow and bond as the months and years go by. I am sure we will hit roadblocks in the future, but for now I will enjoy this easy transition for our big brother.
Tom echoed my sentiments of losing our only by saying that George becoming a big brother has only made us love him even more.