Friday, March 30, 2012

From Baby to Big Brother

I'm full term today(!) and I can hardly believe we've gotten most everything on the pre-baby list checked off!  We're working on some finishing touches and projects, but all of the must-do big stuff around here is ready to go.  :)

One thing that has been forefront on my mommy heart since we found out we were expecting Molly is Reed's transition from only child to big brother.  Every child is different, and I think it is a transition that unfolds in its own way for each family, but I want to share a few ideas we've used in this arena so far and a few things that we have planned.

Bedroom Transition
First, we knew we were keeping our nursery in the same room and not buying a second crib.  I wanted to move Reed to his big boy bed and room several months before sister's arrival, so that if possible he didn't associate Molly with kicking him out of his room.  We started talking about and moving things into his new "Big Boy Room" in December.  We made a big deal out of his new room even before he officially moved in, and Reed was super proud to show any and all visitors his new pad, especially his "bi-boy-bed."  You might remember that I almost balked and kept him in his crib a little longer than planned, but when he tried to climb out and fell (12/31), we made the switch.  One other note: When I originally thought about moving Reed several months prior to Molly, I was thinking of her actual arrival, but I am glad we went ahead as early as planned because he was a little dubious about us even working and decorating in her room.  The lag time allowed us to let his old room sit for awhile and not be immediately taken over by baby sister preparation.

Room Time
 At the advice of a good friend, I implemented "special room time" in anticipation of Molly's arrival.  Basically, I put up the "special gate" (everything is "special" around here, you'll notice!) and give Reed 20 to 30 minutes to play alone in his room.  I am hoping to use this time in the mornings either for some peace during one of Molly's feedings, or for a quick shower (or maybe a good cry!) when she is napping. :)  Again my goal in starting the practice well before her arrival was that he wouldn't associate his room time with Molly.  Reed usually turns on his music, reads books, plays with cars on his car mat (which we bought and introduced for his first day of room time), ...or dumps out all of his toys in his room.  Honestly, he usually protests at first ("I don't want my special gate!"), and I haven't been as consistent as I had hoped.  (Someone text me tomorrow and remind me to do room time!)  I'm not sure how this one will play out in the long run.

Potty Training
One negative aspect of 25 month spacing is that Molly's arrival falls right when I probably would have otherwise started potty training.  I realized well in advance that I needed to either plan to do it several months before Molly or several months after... There was no way I was going to tackle that milestone at a waddling 8 months pregnant, or juggling a newborn schedule.  I decided to wait until after Baby #2 for a few reasons... 1) 22 months is fairly young for potty training, especially for a boy, and Reed has not shown much interest.  2) Most of my friends have seen some regression in their potty-trained toddlers, and I figured if anything was going to bring that out it would be a new baby sibling in diapers.  3) As far as I can imagine it sounds easier to have both in diapers for the first few months and on my own diapering schedule, rather than dealing with accidents and having to rush a newly trained toddler (and his newborn sister and all of their gear) to a public restroom on demand.  Sooo... I am hoping that we'll hit a good schedule/stride around the 3 month mark (which will be summer- perfect for underwear only days!), and dive into potty training.  (Oh boy!)  I had planned to read up and have all of my potty preparations ready pre-Molly, but my reading successes have been non-existent this year.

Talking about Molly's Arrival
As our due date has grown closer, we've started to talk to Reed more and more about "picking up Molly at the baby doctor."  I've tried to use consistent wording with him, as well as take advantage of opportunities (like his friends having siblings born) to talk about what it will look like when Molly arrives.  It has been fun to see Reed understand more and more.  Right now he knows that when Molly comes out of Mommy's tummy, (when will be a "surprise"), Mommy and Daddy will go to the baby doctor to pick her up.  He also knows he will come to the baby doctor to see Molly and that she will be so excited to meet her big brother! :) We've looked at pictures of Baby Reed when we picked him up at the baby doctor and when our friends came to visit our family.  Yesterday, Reed grabbed my stomach and yelled, "Molly come out!" :)

Celebrating Big Bro
Of course, we've talked a lot about Reed becoming a big brother.  Thinking about how proudly he wears stickers of any kind and knowing he had seen me do a lot of crafting for Molly's room recently, I made Reed a special (<see, there it is again) "Big Brother Badge" last week.
(I googled for an idea and found this really cute one).
We worked on it "together" and we hung it on his bedroom door.  I remind him a lot to be sure to wear it when he comes to see Molly at the "baby doctor."  He puts it on most every morning and wears it to breakfast :)

Matt and I also bought Reed a gift "from Molly" that she will give to him at the hospital.
One of Reed's favorite books is Chip and Dale's New Home, and for some reason Matt and I both fell in love with these cute little guys as a gift for Reed.  If things work out according to plan, my parents will come to our house to stay with Reed while we're at the hospital.  Who knows what the hospital stay will hold and how the timing will play out, but I talked to my mom about letting Reed pick out a little cookie cake on the way to the hospital to celebrate Molly's birthday.  He LOVES singing happy birthday, and (hello!) will get to eat cookie cake.  Sounds like a win win to me.  Reed is usually at least a little bit apprehensive about us "going bye bye," so I am hoping that he will have a lot of fun with Papa and Grammy while we're gone and feel very loved.  We put a bunch of his birthday gifts away and have been introducing them every few days.  Hopefully, the new gifts will last until the couple of days we are gone and Papa and Grammy can continue getting out special surprises that he can enjoy while we're away.

First Weeks at Home
In thinking about the days and weeks following Molly's arrival, I hope to take advantage of opportunities for Reed to have playdates with friends and grandparents and even Daddy so that I can have a break as I care for Molly.  But I also want Matt and myself, and hopefully both of us at times, to be intentional in spending special moments playing with Reed, or even taking him out for a quick ice cream date, when other people want to hold Molly (or later on watch her for an hour or two). :)

Last thought: Believe it or not, contrary to what this blog post seems to reflect, I have also tried to downplay the whole transition. :)  While behind the scenes I have put a lot of thought and prayer into ways we can navigate this time in our lives well, we've tried to implement those ideas in a natural way.  And while I think a lot about Reed's heart in the midst of these changes, a huge part of the struggle for siblings is rooted in their (our) inherent sin and selfishness.  Reed is two.  It is a good thing that he will continue to learn that life doesn't revolve around him.  I'll say it again: Reed is two!  These last few months have been a raging battle in consistent discipline and dealing with a tough, but tender stage.  I really hope that we can stay on top of our efforts to parent him well when things get (more) crazy around here in a few weeks.

Honestly, I have probably thought way too much about something I can't do much about, and the whole transition will play out however it plays out.  Reed just has such a perceptive and tender little heart and most of all we want to do our very best to make sure he feels loved and safe as his world changes in a big way.  I've been praying over my sweet little man and know others have been too. (Thank you!)  It is hard to imagine my baby not being my baby, but I am truly excited about Reed becoming a big brother and seeing how that special role becomes a part of who he is and who he is becoming.

***Update: Read a short post-baby follow-up to these tactics here


  1. I love this post and how intentional you parent! I want to file this away to remember several years from now! Love you and so excited to meet little Molly!

  2. So fun and such a sweet time before and after a new baby arrives. The biggest thing that I couldn't prepare myself for before baby #2 or #3 was how grown up the older child would look, act, and seem the first time I saw them after the baby was born (I may have mentioned this before). I was almost overwhelmed the first time I saw Cy after having Charlotte. He REALLY went from being my baby to being the big brother - in just a few hours. I'm tearing up just thinking back to it. I know you'll savor these last few tender moments with Reed as your baby. He's going to be such a great big brother!

  3. Thanks, Jamie! :) And thanks for the encouragement Katie- I always appreciate your insights! Can't even fathom that moment yet- Hope it's happy!!