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Did you know that adding a baby to your family will turn it upside down and inside out? I am sure if you have had a baby, you are well aware of this. Babies are amazing, wonderful, angelic creatures (see my post Every Time a Child is Born, the World is Renewed in Innocence). They also depend on you for every bit of their care, and therefore take a lot of time.
No matter if you are having your first, third, or seventh baby, there is a large adjustment that will happen and a learning curve as you all figure out how the baby changes life and what “new normal” is with this new baby.
When I had Brayden, I was the first in my family to have a baby, the second in my husband’s family, and the first among my closest friends. Everyone was excited and everyone wanted to see us. It was so great to have the support, love, and interest, but it was also hard because we were hauling our little baby all over the place to appease “our public.” Some babies might do okay with that, but Brayden did not. We were trying our best to continue on our life as close to what was normal (old normal) as you can with a baby in tow. Baby joins the family right?
We were missing a big part.
The baby joins the family. The baby is added. Adding a baby to your family and trying to keep things the same is like saying 2+1=2. That isn’t right! 2+1=3. It is like adding a tablespoon of salt to your cookies and being surprised when they taste salty. Any time you add something, what you added changes what was originally there. When you add a baby to your family, when the baby joins your family, your family will change. Forever. The dynamics will never be as they were before baby was there, even when baby is four.
The point of the idea behind “baby joins a family” is so people don’t become baby-centered. You don’t want to make every decision based solely on what is absolutely best for the baby. Sometimes, baby can give a little. Sometimes you can do what is good enough for the baby rather than best so that “best” can go to someone else in the family for a bit. A family is about give and take. The family should not revolve around the baby–that isn’t healthy. For more on this idea, see:
But “baby joins a family” doesn’t mean you have a baby and then continue on with life as you did before the baby was born. Baby changed things. Baby is a new factor in the equation–a new ingredient in the recipe. Baby can’t be ignored and expected to tag along as the family proceeds on as usual.
The family needs to add the baby. 2+1=3. Not 2.
That means you might sometimes need to miss a family gathering in the interest of the baby–at the very least there is a good chance you will be late getting there or leaving early. You might not be able to be everywhere you were able to be before you had a baby. You might need to cut back on activities outside the home for a few months (no winter basketball this year for Johnny) in order to maintain some continuity and sanity at home. (see Managing Baby Plus Older Kids’ Activities).
This is something not only you need to understand, but your older children will need to understand it as will your extended family and friends. Many of the tips I gave in Juggling Extended Family During Holidays apply in this situation too–give them fair warning, tell them it won’t last forever, and be prepared to deal with the adult tantrums that may come.
Baby joins a family. Families look out for each other. Families help each other. Families sacrifice for each other Families support each other. This is what baby is joining. And the family is adding a baby. Not a puppy. Puppies take work, but puppies can be expected to tag along or stay at home in the kennel. Babies can’t do that.
Babies are hard. Babies take work. Not even a mother of eight children likes to be house-bound and tied down like a baby causes–the more babies you have, the more you know what to expect and the better you are at juggling it all, but it doesn’t mean you enjoy every aspect all the time. What you really have with more children is more perspective and understanding that it really will pass. The family will adjust, baby will grow to be more flexible, and the new normal will be one you can’t imagine living without!
As you add your baby to your family, find that balance–that perfect fit for your family and your baby. And always remember, 2+1=3.
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