As I prepare for life with a new baby, I’ve been hearing a lot of advice on how to help my five-year-old daughter Maggie transition into her role of a big sister, a title she isn’t entirely thrilled about.
“Read her some big sibling books,” people say. (Done.) “Let her help out.” (Definitely.) “Get her a gift ‘from the baby’.” (OK, though I’m pretty sure she understands that a fetus has not had time to rake in currency in the womb.)
The tip that I keep thinking about, however, is one that a friend with three kids mentioned over lunch one day.
“Speak to your new baby the way you’d speak to Maggie,” she said. She explained that if I’m helping Maggie with something and the baby starts crying, I shouldn’t just drop everything and rush over to him. Instead, I should say, “You need to wait, baby,” before switching tasks.
The idea isn’t that I should expect my newborn to grasp the concept of patience (because ha!) — rather, it’s about showing everyone in the family that they’re equally valued.
I plan to use this advice. While I fully expect there to be some jealousy, I’m hoping my daughter won’t feel like she’s being bumped down in the priority ranking during these early days with the new kid.
I want her to know that in our house, every child is loved, but when it comes to getting Mum and Dad’s attention, every child must wait in line.