I knew it was going to be tough on my 2-year-old when I had my twin boys. I knew she would push back a bit more and regress in her potty training. The doctors told me all of this. But they never told me what to do about it. So I’ve come up with some ways to keep her happy while fostering a positive relationship between her and the babies.
Toddler Play Time
Make a special time to play with your toddler each and every day. This works best when it is the same time every day or at least after the same activity everyday. For example, playtime is always after naptime at my house. This ensures that she is in a good mood and therefore lessens the likelihood of a meltdown. It also allows me time to get the babies fed, changed, and do whatever else I need to do with them while she is sleeping so I will be ready to pay attention to her. I know that it can be tough to keep a schedule with a new baby around the house, but your toddler need to know that he/she is special too and knowing that they will get time devoted to them really helps out with tantrums and lets her know she has not been replaced by the babies that take up so much of mommy’s time now days.
In addition to scheduled time, it helps to let your toddler know when you can play with them or help them with what they need. My daughter always waits until I am feeding, changing, or rocking the boys to sleep before she decides she wants to play or NEEDS something to eat/drink/play with that she can’t get herself. I often find myself saying “Not now, honey, mommy has to take care of your brothers.” This almost always ignites a fire in my daughter unless she knows that her time is coming. I can say something like “Let mommy finish with baby brothers and then we can play _____________ or I will get you your _______________.” This has been a life saver for me. She will then let me finish what I need to do with the babies and knows what to expect when I am available. And she holds me to it! As soon as I put the boys down I can count on her to say “Okay, mommy, now I get my chocolate milk (or whatever else she has been promised).
Nothing makes a toddler happier that feeling like you need her help. I let Kenzington help as much as I possibly can with anything she is capable of doing. Bringing me a diaper, handing me a wipe, bringing me a baby bottle, getting a toy, patting baby on the back are just some of the things she likes to help with. Pulling the tabs on the diapers for diaper changes is her favorite. She loves to feel like Mommy needs her help and it gives her valuable bonding time with her brothers.
Toddlers also make the BEST entertainers.
Got a fussy baby? Stick a toddler in front of him and ask her to sing. BOOM. You’ve got a distracted toddler singing and dancing and a baby who thinks she’s hilarious. Literally music to my ears.
Diapers and wipes at the ready right in the middle of the living room so Kenzington can help mommy with diaper changes.
There will be those times when your toddler can’t help out. My daughter is the probably the worst bottle holder ever. For some reason she feels that the bottle needs to be removed from the baby’s mouth every 10 seconds or so then aggressively shoved back in. So, when she’s being SO helpful that it’s NOT helpful, I have to distract her. Enter random errands. If you’ve ever heard a teacher talk about this, they use it all the time in a classroom. Need a kid to take a break and chill out? Random errand. Got a kid who is crying uncontrollably? Random errand. Burnt out from taking a test? Random errand. So how does this work?
You see that toy laying in the corner? It really needs to go in your bedroom. That wipe we used after lunch today? Trash can. This towel? Bathroom. You get the point. Pick a random thing for your kid to do. It doesn’t have to make sense. They won’t know the difference. It is my way of getting her to move away from the situation for a few minutes and makes her feel like she’s doing something important. If I play my cards just right, I even get some light cleaning done. Win-Win
Keeping a toddler happy while dealing with a new baby (or babies) in the house can be a huge challenge. These are the things that help make my day just a little easier and my daughter a lot happier. Let me know if they work for you!