If you’ll allow me, I’ll state the obvious.
Having multiples is not the same as having singletons.
There are skills they learn differently, their developmental timelines can be shifted, and they have the incomparable benefit of having another child their own age to observe… constantly.
And, obviously, they have their own challenges. With one grabby baby, you don’t have to start teaching skills like “sharing” and concepts like “taking turns” until they are more able to socialize with other children. Twins never really get that flexibility. As a parent, it’s your job to keep the peace, even if it means teaching a squealing infant that it is not their turn to drool all over mommy’s necklace yet.
So when I found myself pregnant with another baby- just ONE more baby- I began wondering how a new sibling would fit in. Not just new, but younger. A baby. My twins were rapidly approaching their second birthday, and I began thinking back to everything I could remember from being that age and suddenly having my own baby sister.
I couldn’t remember a lot. But then, I also had an older sister. Like my twins, I had no concept of what it was like to be the only child. To feel, somehow, replaced.
From my reading (and my conversation with oldest children), I know that these feelings are common. I know that when a new baby comes, the older child has to give up all sorts of things they’ve been used to their whole lives, especially the nearly exclusive attention of their parents.
But multiples never had that in the first place. There has never been a time when my attention wasn’t divided, when there weren’t more than one child to care for, to love.
As we read book like “The New Baby” by Mr. Rogers, my children don’t seem at all apprehensive. I’m sure they don’t really understand, they don’t really grasp how much of my attention will have to go to their new baby brother or sister, but they are a little prepared.
And most importantly, they have each other. They have their best friend, their playmate, their partner in crime.
As a blogger and a student, my kids are used to needing to entertain themselves while I get work done. They’re used to playing games (their favorite is to chase each other back and forth down our long hallway), to sharing toys, to entertaining themselves. And here I feel that more than anywhere else, multiples have it easy. When a singleton is newly a big brother or sister, it may be the first time they’ve really had to entertain themselves. Say, while mommy nurses the baby, or while daddy rocks her to sleep.
We plan on doing a few things that are highly recommended for singletons who become big brothers and sisters. Our twins will be getting new toys from their baby brother or sister- I’m looking for something that they can associate as having to do with a baby. A stuffed animal that hatches from a shell, for example, as they know that baby birds come from eggs.
We’re planning on involving the twins in as much of the new baby activities as possible. Letting the girls hold their little brother or sister, letting them give her a bottle, letting them help pick our his clothes, letting them help clean up the baby after a big burp. These are all things I have confidence that my nearly-three-year-olds will be able to do. And as the time comes nearer and nearer, we talk about their new baby. And how much we ALL love the new baby. And how much the new baby loves them.
This is, I think, the most important thing to make sure that they don’t reject their new baby. Letting them know that, even though babies aren’t very good at showing it, their baby brother or sister will LOVE them. And as they love each other, and as they know how much their mommy and daddy love them now, it is something I am sure they will understand.
Keep up with SuperMommy on her blog, Becoming SuperMommy!