Will and Anna were 7 and 4 respectively when we had Clara and Kate. I read quite a bit about preparing older kids for new siblings but there wasn’t much out there about preparing them for welcoming two (or more) to the family.
I should start off with the disclaimer that I am not a child psychologist, counselor, or even always the most attentive mother but we think that our older kids have handled this big adjustment very well.
Here are a few tips from our house to yours if you’ve got older siblings to prepare for twins:
- Take special care in deciding when you will tell them about the babies. I’m not trying to be negative but we waited awhile to make sure everything was ok with both babies before telling Will and Anna. I couldn’t imagine having to tell them that something happened. I realize this is a very personal decision.
- Let your children’s teachers know early on so you can be involved and find ways to communicate easily. It got to the point that I couldn’t attend a lot of school activities because I already was missing so much work. Teachers can be a good support for your kids and make this transition easier.
- Try to be as involved as possible with them before the babies come. There’s a chance with twins that they’ll be premature and you won’t want to get them out in public much. This can be hard on your older kids.
- Involve them in the pregnancy as much as they want to be. Anna wanted to love on my tummy but Will was much more reserved. Each child is different and we respected that.
- Find a good support network early on in the pregnancy to start interacting with the kids and become more involved with the regular routine. They will be better prepared to step in and easily pick up where they need to when the babies arrive.
- Let them be involved in picking out a few things for the babies- whether it’s clothes, toys or stuff for the nursery. Including them in preparations will help them feel important.
- Try to keep the routine as normal as possible for them after the babies come home. I am a strong believer that kids thrive on routines. Our morning and night time routines stayed mostly the same, including dinner as a family so we could talk to everyone. It’s hard, so don’t put too much stress on yourself to make this happen every day.
- Once the babies arrive, make it a point to take time daily to do something with your older kids without a baby in your arms. This one was very hard for us but it was important. Most days it was just tucking them in, reading a book, or doing homework but they need to feel special too.
- Plan some time out for them to do something fun with you. It doesn’t have to be elaborate- going out to eat, to the movies, or the park will make them feel special. This will help you get out without babies too!
- Our family and friends were great about making it a point to take the older kids to do fun things. This made things exciting for the kids.
- For some this may seem materialistic but we put together gifts bags from Clara and Kate to Will and Anna. Nothing too fancy- Will got a batman shirt and beanie and Anna’s was a sparkly outfit. Amongst all of the goodies that the twins got this was nice for them to get to open something.
- Take good care of yourself- both mom and dad. All of your kids need you. You need to eat and sleep as much as you can. If you’re struggling, get help, if possible – whether it is bringing in a babysitter to help around the house or going to see your doctor about possible postpartum depression.
- Have fun, make jokes and smile. This is a very small window of time. Check out my post on tips for what to do when feeling overwhelmed. These tips have helped me throughout the hard days with both my big and little kids.
It is so easy to get caught up in the constant needs of two newborns. No parent aims to intentionally ignore their older children but there may be times that the older kids feel this way. The above tips can hopefully help to limit the times that this happens. If you’re taking time to read these tips, chances are you are a great parent so relax, smile, and just make the most of every day with your little and big ones.