by Lottie Keble-Wyatt
And then there were two, or three, or four, or five...
Adding a newborn to the mix of an established family unit is never going to be easy. Everyone has their own groove, their own quirks that oil up the wheels of the family machine. When someone small and new comes along, this sparkly little cog takes time to bed in and settle on down, affecting the previous flow, inevitably adding a few bumps and bangers along the way. So how do you make for the smoothest journey?
In the early days, your new creation is a novelty, depending on the age of their siblings, this can either be seen as a brand new toy to play with, or just a mild inconvenience that just eats, sleeps and poos a heck of a lot. There are lots of adorable books that seek to introduce brothers and sisters to their new best friend, but lets face it, a 2D book can never prep for the 3D stinking, dribbling line of sick slithering down a shoulder, from a darling ones reflux.
So, I'm going to give it a go and write the real unedited version. I don't know about you but if I read the usual "and baby will cuddle with mummy and me, we'll snuggle together and two will be three," I'd feel a bit bobbing cheated to find out these snuggles usually involved lots of muslin cloths and an agitated mummy rocking. So this is for you, all you new brothers and sisters, here's the version they really didn't want you to see... but trust me I'm doing you a favour.
Firstly, you're going to see your parents age, like really age, there will be a lot more grey hairs before your new sibling even learns how to crawl. You will also note your parents new obsession with counting how many hours sleep they've had, like its some kind of competition. Oh, and they will repeat the following words a lot, 'we're reallllllly tired'. This may mean they have slightly less tolerance for your usual deliberate inability to, for instance, find a shoe necessary to complete the correct attirement for the school run, or refusal to wear a coat when its blinking -55 degrees and tipping it down outside.
It may also mean they get bored of the 'I can't hear you game,' you know, the one where, when asked to do anything, and I mean anything, you delightfully pretend you can't hear a thing they've said and carry on with whatever it is you're not supposed to be up to. The 'walking as slowly as possible whilst simultaneously checking you are right in front of them and they are either holding heavy shopping bags, or desperate for the toilet', that's also not so popular anymore. It's ok though, it's bound to make a comeback someday.
The second thing to note will be food. The family dinner is a free for all now, because Daddy may be in charge, and its likely there will be a lot more improv going on; meaty baked beans anyone? Those days of 'Fruity Friday' or 'Choose your own Tuesday' may be a bit thin on the ground now. However, don't worry parent guilt will sink in at some point and you may have a spontaneous baking day with lots of cookie decorating - I'm pretty sure you could get away with licking the spoon and getting the 'scrapeys' out of the bowl on this day.
Hate to break it to you but long, lazy days in the park might just be put on pause for a smidge. Instead, be prepped to pack in a quick 20 mins fast play, before baby decides to wee mid nappy change requiring a full outfit change that 'mummy... no definitely daddy' never packed, leaving 'mummy.. no daddy...' a little tomatoey coloured in the face.
Top Tip: watch out for the nappy changes in general, and never stand legs end of your new friend. Its dangerous, its messy and, it sure as heck doesn't smell good either. Even if the 'rents attempt to try and get you involved, its probably best to politely say no thank you and go and find your favourite toy to play with.
I know I'm making it sound like its not quite the barrel of laughs you thought you'd signed up to, but I would say this, its only temporary. There are some serious bonuses too. The first few weeks you will probably receive loads of presents, quite simply because you exist! Family members and friends will go out of their way to make sure you don't feel left out, and this is the moment to turn this to your advantage and collect all those toys that have long been on your 'to get list.'
So, yes, bath and bedtimes may initially feel a little more rushed, but give your parents time to find their own feet because funnily enough they're not as perfect as they'd have you believe. Let the newest, smallest little cog find its space within your new family machine, and I promise you it will all be worth it. There are so many magical days ahead, there are so many new memories to be made and moments to be shared.
(and soon there's going to be someone else to join in the fun of: 'hide the one thing mummy was looking for'... think wedding ring, car keys, credit card... you know, something of significant value.)
Kid, you've got this.