Tips to successfully add a new baby to the family. Structure your days to fit baby into your schedule and make the family schedule work for baby.
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.
Baby Joins a Family
A facet of Babywise that most people who use it love is that baby is a part of the family rather than being the center of it.
You welcome baby into the family. The family doesn’t stop life completely because there is now a baby.
Benefits of Having Baby Join the Family
There are many benefits to this.
- One is that your child will have less risk of being self-centered.
- Another is that as the parent, you still get to have your other relationships. You still get to be a sister, a daughter, and a friend.
- You can still participate in activities beyond caring for the baby. You can still join that choir.
- You can still do the service activities you enjoy.
- You can still exercise.
- Most importantly, you and your spouse can maintain a strong relationship. You can still spend time with each other.
Looking down the road, you can imagine the difficulty that would arise from making the child the center of the universe if you plan to have more than one child. It is hard to have more than one center of the universe.
You want your children to all be a part of a family.
The Family Needs to Sacrifice, Too
I want to offer a word of caution with this idea that baby joins a family.
When welcoming baby to the family, be sure you welcome baby to the family.
What do I mean by this?
If this is your first child, you welcome baby to the family, not to the “couple.”
The idea of welcoming to the family does not mean that you and the other family members do not have to make any sacrifices.
It simply means the world does not revolve around the 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!
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 years old.
You need to prepare, adjust for, and accept a new normal.
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 and ignore the needs of other family members.
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.
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).
There will be many sacrifices to make. At first, you might go all day without getting out of your pajamas.
You might get to lunch, or dinner, and realize you have yet to brush your teeth that day (yes, that happened to me!).
These are sacrifices that come as you get used to juggling your time. Just as the world does not revolve around baby, it does not revolve around you.
It also doesn’t revolve around any other child in your house, your spouse, your in-laws, your parents, or any other single person or group.
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
- Be prepared to deal with the adult tantrums that may come
- Set your boundaries and stick to them
You will still be able to entertain friends and go places, but you might cut your evening short in order to care for your child.
Life cannot continue on exactly as it was before baby came. Things must change. This is true even when you are welcoming a second or third child (etc) into your home.
Everyone sacrifices. Everyone gives a little. Some times call for more sacrifice from some than others.
A newborn benefits greatly from consistency to get things established. During the weeks it takes to get established, others might need to sacrifice more.
Once baby is established on a consistent schedule, less sacrifice will be necessary from the other family members and baby will be able to give some sacrifices.
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 welcome your new baby into your home, be sure the world revolves around the family as a whole rather than around an individual member.
Life changes with a baby, just as it changed when you got married. Adding a person to the mix will always change things. Through implementing the principles of Babywise, you can make these changes easier on the entire family unit.
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.
- Overcoming the Challenges of Adding Baby to the Family
- Adding Baby To The Family: A Balanced Approach
- Balancing Baby’s Needs with Family’s Needs
- Prepping Siblings for Baby Tip: Establish Consistency
So true! I especially love the part about being prepared for the adult tantrums. I kind of sense you’ve been there! But I find that most people do have the mentality that the baby should just have to adjust and be on the go and have no schedule or set bedtime. So, when you are one who is going to get home for that nap, or be home by bedtime, people act like you are too uptight or something. I go to the grocery store on Friday nights after I put my baby girl to bed and all I hear are young children and babies crying and whining because they are out at 9-10pm! I just shake my head. Most of the time the parents are embarrassed and frustrated with them. The poor things are just tired! But I totally have to deal with people thinking I am crazy for insisting that I be home for nap/bedtime. When my son was a baby, he was more flexible and would sleep in his pack-n-play anywhere. My baby girl is NOT flexible at all. She has the hardest time sleeping anywhere but at home. I have adjusted to that, but people think I’m crazy and uptight! Oh well.
This post originally appeared on this blog in March 2009
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