While finding out you are having an “ours baby” (a child born to a re-coupled parent and stepparent) brings loads of excitement, there is a new level of hesitation and confusion that comes with it. Preparing your stepchild for the baby can seem overwhelming!
How do we tell the big brother, my stepson? How will he react? How do we prepare him for the change? What will our new normal look like?
Preparing your Stepchild for your “Ours Baby”
Deciding when or how to tell your stepchild about his new brother or sister is the first step to making the transition.
In my experience, waiting until you are out of the “scary” period of the first trimester is the best timing. If something, (God forbid!) happened, then you would have to explain that to the child. He shouldn’t be burdened with that information.
Also, kids are kids. If you are trying to keep the news to yourself for a while, it’s hard to keep them from spilling the beans (especially to their mom).
Sibling Announcement Ideas
How you tell your stepchild about the pregnancy should depend on how old he or she is. My stepdaughter was about to turn four when we found out she was having a sibling. We knew we had to plan something that she would be able to understand.
My husband got out her chalkboard and drew a picture of our family. He drew himself and asked her who it was: “That’s you, daddy.” He then drew her, and then me, asking her to identify those images. Then he drew a baby in my arms and asked her who that was. Of course, she had no idea and looked at him like he was crazy. Then he told her that was her new baby brother or sister.
While I was preparing my stepchild for the baby, it took a while for her to understand what was going on. Despite her young age, my husband and I made it a habit to talk about the baby to get her excited, even though she really had no idea what to expect.
The way you tell your stepchild may be different. You may make him a “big brother” T-shirt, or maybe you give him a gift and attach an ultrasound picture. Either way, I suggest telling him in a special way so that he instantly feels a part of the experience.
Pregnancy Needs versus Wants
Throughout your pregnancy, you can keep your stepchild involved as little or as much as you feel comfortable. You should enjoy this time without any added pressure and should absolutely set certain boundaries.
When preparing your stepchild for the baby, I found that involving her in small ways helped get her excited and feel more ready for the change coming. It can be as small as being there when you register for gifts or helping you open the gifts at the baby shower. Those small moments will make a big difference.
Take the time to check in with your stepchild.
Nine months is a long time, and as the nursery starts being decorated and all of the baby items start piling up everywhere, reality starts shifting.
The soon-to-be older sibling will know the inevitable is coming and will likely experience a range of emotions. Talk about it; open the floor to whatever questions and concerns he has.
Keep an open mind and an open heart. I know it’s harder to do since all of those hormones have taken over, but if your stepchild is upset, don’t, I repeat, DO NOT take it personally.
No one likes change, and bringing a new person into your stepchild’s family and home is a change of monumental proportions. Do your best to address his questions and show compassion. Tell him that while it may be a difficult transition, everything will be okay, he is still loved and nothing will change that.
The Baby is Here: Now What?!
The first few weeks (months) of newborn life are EXHAUSTING, overwhelming and just ridiculously hard. Newborns take up a lot of time and energy, and it’s really easy to get sucked into the vortex of bottles, diapers and little sleep.
It’s crucial to make time for one-on-one time with your stepchild, especially with Dad. Jealousy comes roaring when the kids see dad interacting with the baby.
Call on reinforcements from a friend or family member and send dad out with your stepchild for a few hours. When possible, I suggest stepmom does the same. I promise you will enjoy the break & the time spent with a child who isn’t constantly throwing up on you.
In my experience, the jealousy that the kids will experience isn’t any different than if the baby was their mom and dad’s baby together.
It’s hard sharing time and attention and your stepchild will probably miss being the “baby.” This is all the more reason you need to make time for him. Remind him that he is loved and special.
Stepfamily Parenting Dilemma: Combating Guilt
Once the baby is here all of a sudden you realize you have no more “kid-free” time. All of the things you used to do without the stepchild aren’t as easy. Then, when you do get some time away from both kids, guilt sets in.
You probably never questioned going to a movie, or a wedding or other special outing just you and your husband until the baby came. All of a sudden you start feeling guilty for going out as a family without the kids. I urge you to change your thinking.
When your stepchild goes home to his mom’s house, does he just sit on the couch twiddling his thumbs waiting until it’s time to go back to dad’s house? No! He lives his life. He does special activities and events with his mom and stepdad.
You may want your stepchild to participate in everything you do and not miss out, but that’s just a reality of this life. Some events just can’t be planned around a custody schedule.
Your “ours baby” is growing up affected by her sibling’s parents’ divorce, too. She doesn’t get to spend time with her older sibling every day.
If you take any advice, take this: You cannot fit 100% of their lives into 50% of the time (or whatever amount of time you have the stepkids). It’s just not fair.
Life should not stop the second your stepchild heads to his mom’s. You should plan for things to do as a family with your stepchild when possible… but you are just as much a family with or without the kids.
Navigating life with an “ours baby” can be challenging. It can also be beautiful. Eventually, everything falls into place. Eventually, everyone forgets what life was like before the baby. You find balance and you find peace.
P.S. If you are all wrapped up in baby fever, here’s a list of 20 pregnancy movies for when you have babies on the brain…