When I first announced I was having my second child, I was told all the usual stories of what to expect. That being said, there are plenty of things no one warned me about. I had done my research. I listened to tips from other seasoned parents of more than one child. I also had my personal experience with my own brothers but still, I was not prepared for what was to come.
Our daughter was four when we brought the baby home. She was excited to be a big sister- honestly, she was. For any parents expecting their second child, here are five secrets I wish someone would have let me in on.
1. There will be jealousy, but not the type you’d expect.
Within the first week, we were exposed to something that should have been expected. Jealousy. We knew how the green-eyed monster acted, what it looked like. We were expecting her to be jealous of all the attention the baby was getting, but she surprised us all. She wanted to be the center of his attention, not ours. It was quite a relief that she wasn’t upset by the all of the adoration we were giving the baby. That being said, it is a real challenge to get a four- year old to understand that a newborn can’t really play with her… just yet.
2. Meals will become increasingly more difficult.
He’s getting dry cereal for a snack? She can’t eat anything but the same. A cut up grilled cheese sandwich for his lunch? Don’t you even consider giving her anything different!
At first, the baby was on a bottle and our daughter understood she wouldn’t be given one too. She also knew that she couldn’t share her food with the baby because he was just too little for her type of food. As her brother got older and was given baby food, she started to take more notice. She had it in her head that the baby food was a pudding of sorts, and was in near hysterics when she wasn’t given some, too. Even now, with our son being a year old, our daughter of five becomes simply distraught if he’s eating something she isn’t.
3. You will never again have a whole night without a child being awake.
As we tuck our daughter in, our sleeping son wakes up due to her twenty minutes of “Goodnight” bellowing from her bed. Once we lull him back to sleep, the ten minutes of his pre-sleep fussing wakes our daughter up. Rinse and repeat until near dawn.
When they’re not playing musical beds, I can almost guarantee they will both be awake and at full energy! Sometimes I might get lucky and they’ll both stay in bed without issue, then I can hunker down for some much-need rest. I did mention if I get lucky, right?
4. It’s a constant game of monkey see, monkey do.
It’s not unusual for the younger sibling to copy the older one, of course. In my house, we like to call it “Pete and Re-Peat”. Interestingly enough, the roles sometimes switch. If our son throws his morning waffle on the floor, our daughter follows suit. If he coughs, burps, poops, she suddenly is doing the same. On more than one occasion, we’ve watched as he falls on his butt and she’s dropped to hers next to him a breath later. It’s amusing to watch, that is until the situation involves vomiting or fumbling with a poopy diaper and there’s a five-year-old demanding to be rushed to the nearest bathroom.
5. On a good note, the older sibling will try to play teacher.
Once our son was a little older and could do things like crawl and babble, grasp toys with his chubby fingers and play, his big sister was ready and eager to teach him “big kid” things from her vast experiences in pre-school. It is rewarding to witness her coping skills evolve, especially with dealing with frustration (which often happens when she has one her “lessons” with him). When she’d explain a color to him and he’d respond with garbled nonsense, she soon learned how to calm herself down with deep breaths and be more patient. It’s great that the two have learned to play contently together and learn from one another. That’s a learning experience more exciting than knowing colors at one year old.