As parents, it is only natural to want to continue to give your first child all the attention you have been giving him, plus give your new baby the special attention you gave to your first child. That is not possible. After your second child is born, you will probably not have the time or energy to give your first child the same amount of attention you give him now. To make matters worse, you will never be able to give your second child as much attention as you gave your first child. The plot thickens from here — you and your partner will not have as much time or energy to give to each other as you have had with one child. As a family, you will be stretched in many new ways!
Here are a few tips on how you can work together:
Understand that at less than two years old, your first child will not be ready to give up being a baby in order to take on the big brother or big sister role. He will still need to be treated like the baby he is.
Although you might be able to get away with graduating your first child into a big-kid bed, chair, etc., it is well worth the investment to get a second set of furniture for the new baby. Your first child will then be able to graduate into big-kid furniture when he naturally would have.
Be flexible! You won’t be able to have things the way you like them as much of the time as you currently do. Your house may be messy for the next few years, and you may not be able to take on as many projects as you currently do. That will ease up after a few years.
Make it a priority to take pictures of each family member and of the family doing things together. It is important for the kids as they grow up to have memories of doing things with their parents — pictures help to cement the memories in their minds.
If possible, take lots of videos and include narration. (You probably won’t have time to create extensive baby books for both children, but if you take videos at the same time you shoot still pictures, you can use the narration with your videos to go back and reconstruct baby books at a later date if you wish to.)
Constantly assess each family member’s needs and make adjustments. Your first child will quickly learn to misbehave if that is the only way he can get you to notice him. Don’t wait for someone to fall apart before you give him your attention.
Having children close together in age can be very trying during their early years. As they grow up, you will no longer feel the stress of diaper changes, nighttime feedings, and round-the-clock care. As young children they will have the advantage of having built-in playmates. When they are school age, they will be interested in similar activities and friends (this, of course, with lots of room for individuality). As a result, siblings who are very close in age tend to be close to each other throughout life.
Reviewed by: Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin
Last reviewed: June 01, 2001