Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Toy Rotation

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On Becoming Preschoolwise says that one of the important factors in getting ready for kindergarten is developing focusing skills. One way to do this is to "Keep his toys developmentally stimulating and challenging" (page 121). The authors then go on to suggest toy rotation in order to accomplish this.

The basic idea of toy rotation is that you use some method to put toys out of reach for a few weeks or months. You then pull them out and put other toys away. This keeps toys new and fresh and interesting for the child. 

I am guessing some of  you are here hoping to see some amazing toy rotation system I have come up with. I am sorry to tell you I have not done so. What I do is so simple.

I am what you call a "macro" cleaner. This means my number one priority in cleaning is surfaces are clutter free. If I have to choose between a drawer being clean and the counter being clean, the counter wins every time. I do have great value for the drawer being clean, too, but counter trumps. 

This is also true in my childrens' rooms. I like toys to be cleaned up and put away. 

We have cupboards, drawers, and closets that hold toys. My husband is big into totes for organization, so we use a lot of totes to hold toys. So all of the Little People accessories are in one tote. All of the action figurines are in one tote. All of Kaitlyns My Little Ponies are in one tote. I also have one tote in each child's room that is for "random" toys that we don't have a lot of.

So our toys are pretty well out of sight unless you go looking for them (you know, other than the train table, kitchen, doll house, etc.)

Then the trick is for me to get out different toys every so often for them to play with. With the toddlers, I get out the toys for independent play, so I rotate what I get out. With older kids, I let them choose, but if I see a toy has been forgotten about, I will pull it out for a nice "suggestion" (aren't I such a mom?). 

We also have most of our toys in Brayden's room since he has the most storage. So I will pull toys from his room to put in the girls' rooms every so often and take toys out of the girls' rooms and put in his room. 

There are lots of ways you can do rotations. You can get totes and group toys in totes, put totes somewhere in storage, then only get out one tote at a time. You can do bins. You can do bags. You can do large buckets. 

Please share the toy rotation system you use, or the system you have found and would like to use! 

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

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Today is Memorial Day in the United States, and I wanted to take the chance to thank all of those who have given their life in the service of my country. Thank you to all of you who have also sacrificed in direct result of their sacrifice. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13.

If you are looking for ideas of things to do with your children today, be sure to check out the Children's Learning Activities blog: Memorial Day Activities.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Breakfast and Morning Wake Time

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this is true for more reasons than just giving you the energy you need for the day. The time you eat breakfast every day impacts the time you wake up in the morning. This is true no matter what your age is. 

If you eat breakfast every day at 7:30, most days you will wake up by 7:30--ready for food. 

This is an important point to remember when you are establishing morning wake time.

Does your baby wake earlier than you want her to? Try slowly moving breakfast to the time you want to eat. If she wakes at 7:00 and you would prefer 7:15, get her up when she wakes if she needs you to, but distract her for at least 5 minutes. A few days later, try for 10 minutes. Then eventually get to where you feed her at 7:15.

Consistent breakfast time is also very important if you have night wakings that you want to stop. I have posts with more on this, so see:
This concept is also true for older children. If you feed your toddler, preschooler, or child at the same time each morning, your child will tend to wake up closer to that time.

Now, there are of course more factors than the time of breakfast in morning wake time. We have the sun (Early Morning Waking and the Sun). We also have being too hot or too cold. We have what time the child went to bed the night before. The time you eat breakfast, however, is a very important part of the equation. Babywise book one cautions to not underestimate the power of starting the day at the same time each day in getting your baby to sleep through the night.

Keep breakfast time consistent, and you will have a consistent morning wake-up child.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why Read Aloud?

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"...every child begins school wanting to learn to read" (The Read-Aloud Handbook, page 1). Oh how true this is! Every child starts school believing they are smart and capable. Unfortunately for some, it doesn't take very long at all for them to do the comparing and realize where they stand in the class. Little kids want to read--and want to read constantly (at least my little kids do). But here are some startling statistics found in the The Read-Aloud Handbook:
  • 54% of fourth graders read for pleasure each day
  • 30% of eighth graders read for pleasure each day
  • 19% of twelfth graders read for pleasure each day
As Trelease puts it, "We have 100 percent interest in kindergarten but lose 78% of our potential lifetime readers by senior year" (page 1). I would personally be interested in seeing the numbers by the end of kindergarten. Yesterday I was helping in Brayden's class. The children were passing off reading the words for colors. Some children did it without much effort. Some struggled but didn't seem to care much. One girl really struck me. She wasn't focussing on the paper at all (whether it was a defiance issue or a lack of attention span issue I am not sure). Instead her eyes would wander over to look out the windows. The thing that broke my heart is that she seemed sad about it--she was visibly uncomfortable with the fact that she couldn't read.

Reading these words came as no surprise. We were told as parents four months ago that the children would be asked to do this. No sweat for Brayden. We read through them four months ago and he read them fine so I didn't worry about it again. However, if I had a child who couldn't read them, of course I would have been coming up with ways to help the child learn to read them.

I was also saddened because I am 100% positive Kaitlyn could read those words. If she couldn't, she would at least try to sound them out. This girl couldn't even give an attempt at "what is the first sound?" This poor girl! This is a girl who will hate reading by fourth grade if she doesn't already.

"The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children" (page 3). "The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it" (page 3). "The more you read, the more you know; and the more you know, the smarter you grow" (page 3).

So perhaps one reason for the demise of interest in reading aloud to children is that it will help their chances of being good readers in the future. If you think about it, reading is fundamental to any learning process. I don't know about you, but I can't think of any profession that doesn't require the ability to read and comprehend to get into it. You read text books and instructions. Even trade professions require reading in the training process.

But something else happens to children as they get older. Their parents stop reading aloud to them. So most kindergarteners enter school having had their parents read to them most every day to that point (though, in all honesty, I know one parent who absolutely does not read to her children--ever. Yes, I do think that is crazy). But as children get older and learn to read on their own, parents stop reading aloud to them. 

"[Reading aloud] is a practice that should continue throughout the grades"--this is true in the home and at school (page 3). When I first read this in this book, I was a bit surprised by that concept. Read to your children so long as they are living at home. Isn't that a huge time commitment? Um, yes. So why would we do that?

Reading aloud does the following (found on page 4):
  • Reassures
  • Entertains
  • Creates a bond
  • Informs and explains
  • Arouses curiosity
  • Conditions the brain to associate reading with pleasure (we are driven by pleasure, correct?)
  • Creates background knowledge
  • Builds vocabulary: "...the more often a child is read to, the more words are heard..." (page 7).
  • Provides a reading role model
Studies have shown that no matter the gender, race, nationality, or socioeconomic background, "Students who read the most also read the best, achieve the most, and stay in school the longest" (page 5).

So being read to aloud into older grades helps children maintain these positive connections to reading. When I was in elementary, I had a teacher who read aloud to us each day. He was our reading teacher for two years in a row, and he loved Tolkien (by the way, my Dad also loves Tolkien--do you think it is any coincidence that I also love Tolkien?). 

When I reached 7th grade, we were suddenly told which books to read. I still read a lot because we were challenged to read more than our assigned books. We set a goal in number of pages each quarter, and each quarter we had to go up. I do well with goals. But as time went on, I found myself reading only what was required of me in school. I entered college as an English major, and still only read what was required. As I went on, my literature classes lightened because I was a technical writer. At that point, I started reading for pleasure again. I found the fun--beyond the pressure of tests and coming up with an impressive analysis for the professor. I can absolutely believe that if I had read aloud during high school, I would have maintained more of a pleasure in reading. At least I still love to read today.

And why might that be? One study found what motivates children and adults to read:
  1. They enjoy the experience
  2. They like the subject matter
  3. They like and follow the lead of people who read a lot (anywhere from Oprah to Mom)
So reading aloud covers number one. I know for me, both of my parents are avid readers, so it is only natural that I be an avid reader myself. 

In summary, two broad categories of why we read aloud to our children is that it helps them be better readers and it helps them to continue to enjoy reading. It also does the things in our bulleted list above. It creates a bond with you and your child. It reassures your child. It builds vocabulary and gives background knowledge. It makes your child curious. It sets a positive role model.

"Read to them....It's that simple. It's the most important thing a parent can do with their children" (page 21). emphasis added

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blog Summer Schedule

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Here is the heads up on the summer schedule for the blog. All the info coming your way right now. 


Summer schedule will start the day after Memorial Day. 

Giveaways will drop back to every other week. This gives vacationing people a chance to enter each giveaway if they choose to. Giveaways will also be posted on Fridays. This allows me to announce winners on Fridays and not worry about being by a computer on Saturday, because for some reason, summer=busy and as of this moment we have 3, yes only 3, free Saturdays during the entire summer. Seriously. 

July will be a fun month. The first week of July is summer break so there will be no posts July 4-9. July 11 will commence the second annual Babywise Success Stories Week. We did this last year and had an overwhelming turn out. More to come on that in the future, but if you want to participate, start writing down your success with Babywise and/or why you are glad you have used Babywise.

The next week is Reader Week. We will have you participate in sharing your sample schedules, sharing your blogs, and sharing your favorite products. 

"Normal" schedule will recommence the day after Labor Day. Here's to a fun summer!

Poll Results: ON A SCALE OF 0-10, HOW WAS THE 1-2 CHILD TRANSITION FOR YOU (0=EASY, 10=VERY HARD)

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0
  2 (2%)
 
1
  1 (1%)
 
2
  13 (13%)
 
3
  13 (13%)
 
4
  7 (7%)
 
5
  10 (10%)
 
6
  8 (8%)
 
7
  10 (10%)
 
8
  14 (14%)
 
9
  7 (7%)
 
10
  12 (12%)
 

Votes so far: 97

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Reminder: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Motherhood Reality Check

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“It has really been a busy day hasn't it?” I said to my friend Stephanie. Stephanie lives a couple of houses down from me. She is super wise and I love talking parenting with her because she has the best little tidbits of information. I trust Stephanie with a lot; I met her as soon as I moved to this town and have followed her recommendations for everything from our dentist to our preschool teacher.

On this particular day, we were about to watch our daughters in a dance review. Stephanie had recommended this nice and simple dance company that did modest dances, modest costumes, and at a very modest price.

Stephanie laughed and told me she had been sitting in her seat for the last several hours. Since I had the three year old daughter, I was lucky enough to not be expected to be there until 15 minutes before show time because people don’t expect much from three year olds typically.

I then commented on how that day I had been thinking back to life with a baby and how I was stuck in the house most of the time. “Having a newborn gets monotonous,” I said, “and it takes a lot of your time. But having older children really does take a lot more of your time.”

“I know!” Stephanie replied. Stephanie has three girls ranging from 6 to 12, so of course she knows. She knows better than I do. “People always told me that when my girls were young but I never believed them! Sometimes I long for those simple days again.”

“What! People warned you about older children?!? Nobody warned me!” I told her.

And thus here I am. Here I am to make sure you all know with fair warning what having older children is like.
You all know (or if you are new to the blog, you are about to know) that newborn time is not my favorite time. It is filled with lack of sleep, raging mommy hormones, and a whole lot of monotony. I know, some of you find it to be your favorite stage. That’s okay—we are all different. I also used to think it took up a lot of your time.

Ha! Newborns do not take up a lot of your time! It can feel confining, especially if you are breastfeeding. You have to be home for naps and you have to be with your baby to feed her.

Do you know who takes up a lot of your time?

Children.

Children take up a lot of your time. Not just newborns.

I am a total extrovert, but sometimes I really look back fondly on the time I was “stuck” at home. Things were simple. Sometimes simple leads you to boring, and yes, that is true. The monotony of it all can feel boring at times.

But I really want to help you to enjoy it for what it is if that is your stage in life. Appreciate what it is, because it is not that way for long.

I think a lot of times we look at our current situation and think, "When XYZ happens, things will be easier." So, "When my child is (5, 10, whatever), I will have more time to do things!"

The truth is, not only is life busy, but taking care of children, no matter their age, is busy. So don't wish away your present by looking to a future that won't come. Enjoy your present. Everything has its season. Everything has its good points and difficult points. The trick in life is to focus on the good and be grateful for it.

I am busier than I was when Brayden was a baby, no doubt. Sometimes I would like to go back to the long, uneventful days he and I spent together. But I love watching my children learn these cool new skills. I love talking with them and getting to know their unique personalities. I love the adventure and new experiences we have. I love hearing my toddler tell me all of the colors of everything around us and having her shock the librarian with her knowledge. I love playing soccer with the neighborhood kids—me versus everyone else and letting them win (or so I would like to think). I love being able to run errands all morning long if I need to and not worry about naps.

These are some things I love right now. If you are having a rough day and find yourself longing for the past or the future, sit down and think of what you love right now. Find the good things about your state and cling to those. Every stage has its own unique challenges and its own unique benefits you won’t face in other stages.
I do want you to know there is a lot to love about the baby stage. There is a lot to relish in as you are “stuck at home.” Time really does fly, so enjoy every moment. One day, you will miss it all.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Toddler Tantrums

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If you have a child who has not had a tantrum yet, please do not kid yourself. The day will come; your child will have a tantrum. "The propensity of throwing temper tantrums is a normal phase of development" (On Becoming Toddlerwise page 160).

As with many things, "normal" does not equate to "acceptable." As your child comes to recognize the emotions of frustration, disappointment, and anger, tantrums are a natural and normal thing for the child to do. But this is the moment to step in and teach your child how to appropriately handle the tantrum. 

Toddlerwise states, "A temper tantrum, whether thrown by a child or an adult is a coping mechanism occurring because an individual has not learned how to correctly manage disappointment" (page 160). I love that quote, especially the "or an adult" part. Yes, adults have their versions of tantrums too--some even look a lot like a toddler's. I think an important take-away from that knowledge is your child will not just "outgrow" tantrums some day. Do your child a favor and teach him how to handle his emotions.

I think it is important for us as parents to realize that tantrums are normal. It helps us feel like less of a failure. No matter how "perfectly" you parent, there will be tantrums. If you have the right perspective, you can let it roll off your back and seize it as a teaching moment rather than looking at it as a big red F on your parenting report card.

Yes, you can handle tantrums the wrong way and contribute to stronger and frequent tantrums in your future. But you are reading this, so you obviously desire to avoid that. Give yourself a lovely A on your parenting report card. Now, let's talk some strategies as outlined in Toddlerwise for handling tantrums.

Look For Patterns
Patterns are so important to take note of in life. Watch for patterns to the tantrums. When do they happen? Only in public? Right before a meal? When your child is late for a nap?

Once you recognize the pattern, you can help avoid the tantrums in the future. If your child throws tantrums when she is hungry, then you know to make sure you don't let her get to that point of hunger. You also know that when you are out and about, having a snack handy is a good idea.

Don't Reason
Don't try to talk your child out of the tantrum. One big reason for tantrums is your attention--and your child doesn't care if the attentions is positive or negative. Attention is the big payoff. "To work effectively, a tantrum needs a sympathetic audience" (page 160).  

This means you need to give your child no attention during a tantrum. I remember Kaitlyn's first (and I believe last) public tantrum sometime as an almost two year old. We were in the store. She wanted to do something or not do something involving the shopping cart and I said no or yes...the trigger is fuzzy to me. Kaitlyn carefully put herself on the floor, then proceeded with the tantrum. It was really funny in reality. We were right by the entrance. I stepped back about 10 feet and looked around the store. Once she realized I wasn't buying it, she stopped and we went about our day. 

Yes, I got a couple of those judgmental looks from people saying "Can't you control your child?" But it wasn't about me or my pride. It was about teaching Kaitlyn something, and I did. And after a minute, my child was very controlled with no desire to try that again. It was no fun.

Use Isolation
This is something I use most often for the tantrum at home. You have to remain calm and nonchalant about it. "You are welcome to throw your fit if you would like to, but you don't get to do it around the family. You need to go to your room until you are done with your fit." Again, the goal of the tantrum is attention, so removing the attention encourages your child to deal with the emotions in ways other than a fit.

Hold Tightly
You might sometimes find yourself in a situation where leaving the child alone doesn't work and allowing a tantrum on the ground is inappropriate. This is the moment to hold the child in your lap until the tantrum is done. 

This is a technique I use at church. If the child is not behaving, we leave the chapel. We find a quiet spot in the church where we can hopefully be alone, or at least without a lot of people around. I then hold the child on my lap until she is done with her fit. I can feel her body relax. Once she is calm, we go back into the chapel. 

Don't Say "Okay?"
I once worked at a daycare, and this was something that was highly stressed there. Adding "okay?" to the end of your statement is opening the door for your child to disagree. "Don't touch the plant, okay?" If keeping hands off the plant is not okay with your child, then you are inviting a tantrum.

This is the time to say "Say Yes Mommy?" "Don't touch the plant, say 'yes, mommy.' "

Teach Delayed Gratification
This is the clincher. Patience is a great thing to teach your child to not throw tantrums. And guess what? Babywise has done this from the beginning. We don't give our child whatever she wants whenever she wants. We have lots of things to help the child learn patience, including indpendent playtime. 

My two year old McKenna understands what "in a few minutes means." She also trusts me. So I say, "You can have a snack in a few minutes." And she chills out and says "okay." She knows I am good for my word because I always have been. I have always been predictable for her. She also knows how to wait a few minutes because we have done things that have taught her to work through things she might not have wanted to do. It doesn't mean she is perfectly patient, but for a two year old, she is good.

Conclusion
Even with this teaching, however, a child will be likely to have a tantrum if hungry or tired. Always be aware of that and be patient with it. Sometimes a tantrum when tired really just needs mom to pick the child up,hug the child, and say, "I know you are tired. It's okay sweetie. Shhh" gently. That is okay. Have compassion and patience, especially because if your child is hungry or tired, it is because you allowed your child to get there. Sometimes that happens; that is life. But you created the situation and a toddler is just not emotionally mature enough to control emotions with hunger and fatigue involved (many adults are not). Sometimes Mom or Dad's hugs and cuddles are enough to feed the child until real food can be provided.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Two to Three Child Transition

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McKenna and me in the hospital--one day old


I feel a little bit like the wrong person to write about what it is like to go from two children to three. My whole life, I have heard that the number "3" is the hardest number to have with children. Even my friend's mom, who had 13 children, said three was her hardest number. In fact, for a while, she was absolutely done at three. 

Needless to say, I was a little nervous at adding a third in some ways. I had thus far found two easier than one, but if people found three that much harder than one, I was in big trouble.

Initially for me, adding a third child was not difficult at all. For one thing, Brayden and Kaitlyn played really well together. This  made those spontaneous times I needed to care for McKenna (like during growth spurts) that didn't fit into my normal plan a lot easier. I wasn't leaving one child alone to go care for a baby. I had two little ones who loved to play and were happy to do so while I took care of the baby.

Another thing is that McKenna was a super easy baby. She slept well and ate well, which are your two main concerns with a baby. In the first few months, I often found myself bored and doing things like scrubbing down my refrigerator really well because I was out of things to do. Who does that with a newborn?

When McKenna was 5 months old, we remodeled a house and moved. Still not a big deal. Busy, sure, but not hard. I could easily juggle everything I was needing to juggle.

For these reasons, I feel like the wrong person to write about the two to three child transition. The transition was easy for me, and I know that is not true for everyone. 

But I am glad I have waited to write this post until now. In the last few months as McKenna as gotten to be a two year old, I have found three children more difficult. I don't know if I can blame it on three children or just the ages of my children. Like I said above, a baby is not a big deal if she eats and sleeps well. You don't have much to worry about. 

These days, however, I have a Kindergartener with homework, school functions, friend worries, piano practice, and soccer games. I have a four year old with playgroup and dance class. I have a busy two year old who only takes one nap, and will happily entertain herself if I am helping a sibling, but does so in a tornado fashion (though to her credit, I must say I have been working with her on this and she is improving). I am concerned about teaching my children various things from ABCs to work ethic. Add normal life concerns on top of that, and the best way to describe it is my brain is full.

My brain is full of things to keep track of and remember, much more so than it ever was when the three were two years younger than they are now. 

I absolutely do not want to discourage anyone from having three children. I am just always honest about things. I think I am in a transition period with the age of my oldest child. I have new things to keep track of. Transition periods are always a challenge for me as I learn the best way to manage my time. I remember in college, the first few weeks of a semester was tricky as I learned to balance studies, work, and extra-curricular. I had to write everything down and plan out projects. But as the semester progressed, I didn't need to write anything down anymore because my brain could do it. 

With that information out there, I will talk some details about my experience with adding the third baby to our family.

How Hard Was it Really?
Not hard at all, like I said. I was adept at balancing three schedules of three young people. So this might be different based on different ages of children. It might be harder to add a baby with an older child because of meshing baby's schedule with older child activities, but when McKenna was born, we are all just home all day every day anyway.

How Do You Nap?
This is something that I must say was actually difficult with three children. It was hard to get all three napping at the same time long enough to allow me to get a nap in. When I had the two, I could get a nap every afternoon. But Brayden was old enough that he didn't nap consistently every day, so I couldn't always get a nap in. I actually think naps were a rarity for me when McKenna was a newborn.

Do You Have Time to Yourself?
When McKenna was a newborn, I didn't have much if any time to myself. I had time to do silly things like clean the fridge, but not time to just be with me. Before baby three comes along, you can have your first two in independent play at the same time while you do something else (cleaning, relaxing, blogging...whatever). But when baby arrives, that time is now used to take care of baby.

I think this is rather normal for having a newborn, though. Your time does come back, though you are now attending to three different people, and it isn't any less demanding as children get older. It is different, but still time consuming. 

Would You Do It Again?
Absolutely! Not only because I have this spunky McKenna that I can't imagine life without, but I would absolutely do three children again. It is definitely more challenging to manage three than two--my brain seems to be able to divide in half, but thirds is harder for it. Even so, I have found three children very fun. 

What Are Unique Challenges to Three Children?
I have talked about some of them. Dividing yourself up three ways is a challenge. Tracking three with your brain is harder than two. 

Some people say three is hard because you are no longer one parent on one parent. I haven't found that to be a real issue. I think having children who are obedient is a helpful thing when adding another child. No child is perfect; you will have those moments when the child pushes her limits beyond your enjoyment, but things will be much easier if you have first time obedience worked out before baby arrives.

Any Tips?
  1. Have a routine in place before baby arrives. I like toe have our schedule set at least a month before the next baby arrives. That way, baby comes and joins the family flow and it is less of an impact on the children. Baby is joining family rather than taking family over. And things like naptime/rest time and roomtime are a normal part of the day so it isn't like baby's presence is taking over mommy.

    I wrote this in the 1-2 Child Transition post, but I think it is equally as helpful here. I recommend having a target schedule written out before your baby is born. I also recommend having your older child in that schedule for at least 2-4 weeks before your baby comes.
    When Kaitlyn was born, I had no plan. I made the plan between 1-2 weeks old. 
    With McKenna, I had a plan from before she was born. In fact, I had two plans.
    I had two different plans written out. I had a plan in case she was a naturally early waker like Brayden and one incase she was a naturally later waker like Kaitlyn. That way I could go with her personality. I wanted to be prepared with a plan, especially since I would be juggling three.

    It was really nice doing it that way because in the hospital, I was able to start feeding her at the times I planned on feeding her. This worked because she was one of those sleepy babies you have to wake up for every feeding.  

    Now, it needs to be said that you must go into this flexibly. One, you need to be prepared to adjust your schedule if your baby doesn't naturally fit with that schedule. Don't kick against the pricks. You also need to be ready to adjust like crazy when a growth spurt happens. You can tell growth spurts were probably the hardest thing for me--they were the times of unpredictability. They were the times I need to improvise big time. You do get better at it--it was not an issue for me when McKenna was a baby because I was adept at it at that point, but it is hard to juggle two young children on a whim when your plans don't work out. Just push through and you will get used to it.
  2. Let children help prepare for baby before baby arrives. We let Brayden and Kaitlyn help paint in McKenna's room. Let them help decorate and set out clothes. It will help get them excited for the baby's arrival.
  3. Let children help with the baby, but be careful. This is a place you need to be very careful in. You want to let older children help with the baby, but you don't want them to get a sense of authority over the baby. They are the baby's siblings, not the baby's parents.

    Something I find effective is to ask the children to help you, not to ask children to do things for the baby. This gives them a "serving mom" perspective rather than a "caretaker of sibling." I think you can also make it be a "serving sibling" perspective. Children are naturally bossy enough over younger siblings without you giving them more reason to become wise in their own eyes and be "large and in charge" inappropriately.
  4. Have one-on-one time with children. This is a tricky balance. You want to make sure you give each child individual time with you, which just further takes away from your personal time. I know it can get tiresome. I don't want you to spread yourself too thin. But be as strong as you can and remember the concept of seasons. It is a season of life to sacrifice a lot as a mother--especially a mother of young children. Don't do it to the extreme that you totally lose who you are, but know it won't last forever.
  5. Find unique ways for your older children to love the baby. Some children are natural baby lovers and it will be love at first sight, just like for some parents having a baby is love at first sight. But also like some parents, some older siblings develop a love for the baby. If your child is like that, ponder and think about ways to help your child love the baby. 
  6. Be prepared for stressed children. Adding a baby to the family is stressful on everyone. It will take your child some time to adjust, just like it takes you time to adjust. I think older children can have a harder time with the new baby than a younger child. Older children are more aware of what is going on than toddlers. Brayden got a little stressed after McKenna was born. It manifested itself in not sleeping as well, but after a month or so, he was totally fine.
  7. And remember my advice to not blame things on the babyDon't say you can't do something because of the baby. I am not saying to lie about it, but see if you can attribute things to another equally correct reason. A simple example off the top of my head is when you are pregnant. If you can't run and be as active as you used to be, don't say "The baby in my tummy makes it hard to run." Say, "My body is tired and I can't move really well right now."
  8. Send the older child to grandma's (or somewhere you trust):When McKenna was born, the older kids split time between both grandma's houses so that my husband was able to be with me at the hospital and so that we had the first couple of days home without any other children--just us and the baby. It helped give us time to get everything in order and get to know the baby McKenna. I had no one else to worry about. We were very anxious for our kids to come home by the end, but it was great to have the peace and the lack of mess that kid make :). 
  9. Nap: Getting a nap in daily can be really hard with three children. I honestly couldn't get it in very often with three. If you can do it, absolutely do it. Really work it in to your day daily for at least the first month. You will heal faster and you will be nicer.
  10. Work Schedule Right: Work out the schedule so you can devote full attention to the baby and also attention to the other children--at least for the first 4-8 weeks. You will have a feeling of urgency to incorporate baby into the activity of the family, but at first, baby needs quiet, food, and sleep. Baby will wake up more and be able to handle craziness. Before you know it, your two little darlings will be making larger messes together than you ever dreamed capable.
  11. Keep Baby From Overstimulation: With two other children running around, it is very easy for baby to get overstimulated. As I just said, you don't need to have baby present for every activity initially. There were many cycles McKenna was in her room the entire waketime in the early days. Today, there is no sign of McKenna being left out because of it :). She runs along after her siblings just like you would expect her to.
  12. Keep Life Simple: This is one of those moments in life when you are experiencing turbulence. Accept the help people offer. Accept the offer from people to pick up your slack, whether in church, work, or home. I remember after Kaitlyn was born, I wanted so much to jump into life full speed ahead. I wanted to demonstrate that I was capable of handling two children just fine. At the time, I had a very demanding calling (responsibility) for church. The president of the organization I was in the presidency with was fabulous. She really encouraged me to just take time off. She took over all of my duties and told me to just enjoy those moments.
    I really wasn't great about this with Kaitlyn, but after McKenna was born, I really took things slowly. I now tell people to just wait. You don't need to jump back into the full swing of things right away--no one in their right mind expects you to. But as soon as you start taking back all of your responsibilities, you can't give them back. So let yourself get in the new groove of life before jumping back in the deep end.
  13. Have Another Adult: This is advice I give but have never been able to enjoy myself. My husband always went right back to work and my kids were all born during "foaling season" so my mom is pretty much unavailable from March-June sometime. But I have a friend whose husband stays home the first...is it one week or two? I want to say two...after a new baby was born. I think that is completely fabulous. That way mom can do as I recommend in number four easier. She can also more fully get to know the baby and slowly get used to managing the house and kids on her own. It would also make napping each day a possibility. 
    But I will say, most babies are highly sleepy the first two weeks of life, so you might find it a bit more advantageous to have dad take that time off around 3-4 weeks old instead. 
  14. All Other Newborn Tips Apply: All newborn tips still apply because you still have a newborn. Honestly, it is harder to take care of yourself if you have more than one child. You have less time in the day available to you. Most of it is taken by baby and older child. Definitely more of a challenge. But not an impossible task! It can seem daunting, but you can do it!
Conclusion
I think the reality of the transition here is different for everyone. It will depend on your baby and on your personality. There are things you can do to make it easier on yourself, especially having a routine in place with older children, accepting help when offered, having first-time obedience in place before baby, and taking things slowly once baby arrives. 

Please share your own tips for adding baby number three to the family!


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