Siblings: Trying to make life normal after the second baby arrives

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One of the hardest parts of transitioning from a one-child family to two children is realizing that you have utterly and completely rocked your first child's world. Though you understand everyone is going to be just fine in the end, it doesn't make that sometimes rocky transition period any easier.

At a recent visit to the community pool, I saw something that surprised many of the parents around me. A mom was sitting in the paddling end of the coolish pool with her three-year-old daughter and what appeared to be a very, very new baby. After splashing their feet for a while, the mom took her child (in a life jacket) and the baby to the deeper end of the pool, where the infant slept through being submerged to her chin and splashed by her little sister for a good half hour or more, with no shade from the hot sun.

Though I wouldn't have done the same thing in her shoes, I felt empathy for her plight. I'm guessing that spending time at the pool was one of her daughter's favorite things to do. She probably had fond memories of the previous summer, where she and her daughter played in the pool on a regular basis, and wanted to keep things as normal as possible for her firstborn. Maybe her daughter had asked to go, and she just didn't want to say "We can't because of your sister," and ruin any fragile sisterly bonding that had begun.

What parents of two (or more) children realize eventually, however, is that life will never be exactly the same again for their previous children. That isn't a bad thing, of course. As siblings grow, they form a bond that makes them irreplaceable to each other. But during those first few weeks or months, the intense emotion and hard-hitting hormones can make parents flounder, trying to keep routines in place and life normal for their firstborns.

How did you handle the arrival of your second child? Did you feel guilty about your firstborn having to learn to share your time and adapt to a new routine?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.