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Working as a night nanny I often encounter the expansion of a family, mainly it’s baby number 2. I’m called in to help the parents get the much needed energy reserves to get through the following day. I’ve found over the years the most common age that little ones become the older sibling is around 2/3 yrs.
If this you, then most likely in the lead up to their new role you’ve read your child books on a new baby arriving. You’ve talked to them about what’s in ‘mummy’s tummy’, even shown them all the scans. There becomes a point you feel confident they know there is a sibling on the way. But how much do they really understand that their world is about to change, a lot, forever. The first few weeks they’re very sweet as you place your new arrival in their laps for photos, they may kiss their foreheads whilst you make sure they don’t squish them. There also tends to be extra hands on decks with partners on leave and eager relatives to get stuck in. But shortly that cuteness can turn into demands, heightened tantrums and unwanted behaviour. As they realise that this sweet little being is here to stay meaning less attention. Something that really you don’t want to be dealing with when minimal sleep is on the cards.
From experience the most common time for your first child wanting attention is the feeding period. This can already be a stressful situation with a newbie. You often hope that the newly appointed older sibling will be able to entertain themselves for these times. However sometimes even their favourite episode of Peppa Pig can’t do this is.
It’s something I came up with when noticing that children of 2/3 still need representation to understand time and various concepts such as feeding time. You know it may only take half an hour, time isn’t something they can understand. So after 5 minutes they’re pulling at your arm again. The idea of the the mummy cloud is to help them understand who’s turn it is for Mummy time.
Then when it is feeding time you get the eldest child to put the picture of you and baby on the cloud so they know it’s your time with the baby. A picture of you and your baby during a feed may help with representation. When feeding has finished, you ask your eldest to take the picture off and put whoever gets your time now. So if your baby is due a nap, it’s older sibling and Mummy time. Then when you are spending time together you can put the picture of all three of you on the cloud. You can also add other family members into this so that it fits with your family set up.
Have a look at the pictures below to see what it looks like.
I reference this tool to ‘The Mummy Cloud’ as I find it’s the mums who are at home with the two of them once the partner has gone to work. However of course this can be adjusted to your situation.