Ask Teacher Lisa: Reconnecting After a New Baby is Born

Dear Teacher Lisa,

Even though it’s exhausting with a newborn at home, I know I have so much to be grateful for with two healthy kids…and yet, I find myself grieving what our lives were like before our son was born and it was just the three of us.

I try to connect with my eldest in all of the ways we used to, but we just don’t seem to have the same relationship as before, and I’m not sure how exactly to find a new way of being a family together.

Given your experience with your own family, as well as what you’ve seen with all of the families at The Garden over the years, do you have any advice as to how I can find my way?


Wanting to Reconnect

Dear Wanting,

Here’s my two cents: seeking out new ways to connect is the key, because the old ways you connected may no longer be relevant.

In the process of becoming increasingly pregnant and having to focus on taking care of your body and slowing down, your relationship with your older child was already evolving. Then once the new baby arrived, it shifted even further. You now have a new baby bundle that consumes your physical energy (though your older child may still dominate your mental sphere) requiring snuggling/carrying, nursing, and depriving you of sleep.

Your older child is also growing and changing and may alternately long for the good old days when they were the baby and also feel happy to be the big kid, independent and interested in exploring new adventures and connections. Don’t be surprised if your child moves back and forth between these two states, especially as the baby changes and becomes more of their own person. Try to honor any feelings as they come up and give your child opportunities to express them.

You may feel unsure of how to connect with your older child. Your role with your younger child is clear and dominates. You may feel a sense of loss with your older child—your family dynamic has shifted leaving the two of you more distant. Don’t let these feeling get you down. This is a big transition requiring adjustments all around, and many positives will come out of all of this.

I would suggest carving out a weekly special time with your older child. Tell them that you want to prioritize this time with them every week when the two of you will do something on your own that is fun for both of you. You can talk about how although you love having Baby as a part of the family, you miss having time just the two of you so you are going to put it on the weekly calendar. This reminds your older child of how much you still love them, and also lets them know it’s okay to have a range of feelings about their younger sibling. Maybe you have a weekly ice cream date when you debrief about the week. Maybe you go for a pony ride. Maybe you play her favorite pretend play game without any interruptions. What you do is not that important, as long as you make a point to do it regularly. I would not recommend building it around a physical gift, but rather the gift of quality time spent together. In this way, you will build new bonds with your older child and get to know what their evolving interests are and how to grow together.  

In time, your family will find a new rhythm, and as the baby grows you will once again be able to divide your physical energy more equally between your children.

Sending love,

Teacher Lisa

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