The age gap between my first child Danielle and second child Asher is 10 years. Needless to say, Danielle has been wanting a younger sibling for a very long time. There was really no extra preparation needed when Asher came into our lives.
10 year old Danielle with her 7 day old little brother Asher
With Asher, it’s completely different since he’s still so young. My husband and I made it a point to really plan, prepare and enjoy the undivided attention with Asher. We wanted their age gap to be big enough that Asher doesn’t feel like he was being brushed aside but small enough that they could still play, grow up and simply be kids together.
I clearly remember the first time I made an attempt to ask Asher if he wanted a sibling. It was on January 13, 2015 during one of our after school dates in the park (Thank God for IG!). This was our conversation: “Asher, can mommy have another baby???” Asher’s reply “No! A baby dog.”
You can watch the full video HERE.
As you can see, we’ve gone a very long way from “a baby dog”. haha! If you’re following me on IG, IG stories, Snapchat or have bumped into Asher & Alana together — You’ll see their dynamics and how he absolutely adores his little sister. I’ve been asked these questions many times, “What did you do to prepare Asher for a sibling? What books did you read? What tips can you share to make the kids co-exsist?”
Honestly, I didn’t even read any books. I simply listened. I talked to my parents, sisters and discussed how we grew up since I’m the eldest of 2 siblings. I talked to my parents in law since they raised 4 boys with different age gaps and asked how they did it. I talked to my husband and his brothers and listened to stories about how it was when they were growing up. I talked to my mommy friends who have young kids with small age gaps and asked a ton of questions. I talked to my guy friends who are dads with 2 or more kids and I asked how their relationship with each child differs and how to build one with each child. I talked to other kids, asked them what they loved about their siblings and tips for siblings not to fight. I asked a ton of questions in a sea of answers. I took mental notes and most importantly — I always talked and listened to the person who would be affected the most, Asher.
Here’s how we prepared Asher for a sibling:
- 1. INVOLVEMENT. Asher has been involved in pretty much every step of the way. Except in making Alana of course! hahaha! From the time Carlo and I were toying with the idea of having another child to some of my prenatal ultrasound visits to fixing Alana’s little corner in our room to my maternity shoot to shopping for diapers and everything baby — Asher was there!!!
2. EMOTIONAL & MENTAL PREPS. We talk to Asher like an adult with kids words. We brief him, manage his expectations and constantly reassure him that adding another sibling won’t mean that we love him less. One of the series that we always allow him to watch is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.. the same creators of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood — a show which I used to watch when I was younger.
Here’s an episode that I highly recommend, Big Brother Daniel..
3. EXCHANGE GIFTS.
Photo was taken February 8, 2016 a few hours after I delivered Alana.
Most parents I’ve talked to usually gives a gift to the older sibling from the newest member of the family. We decided to make it an exchange gift and involve Asher in the whole process. For us it was a full production: we spent a few hours going around with him in the mall to look for the perfect gift, let him pay at the cashier, bought wrapping paper and he even helped me wrap it. He happily took on the responsibility, took his job as big brother and mommy’s big helper so seriously that sometimes he even refers to Alana as “his baby”.
A day before I left for the hospital, we gave him the gift. His face lit up because knew that it meant his sister Alana was arriving!
He’s been glued to her ever since. He checks on her when he wakes up. Asks us whats wrong when she’s crying and tries his best to soothe her. He becomes very protective when we take Alana out and other people carry her. He goes bananas when I bring Alana to his school when I pick him up and shows her off to his friends. He showers her with hugs and kisses all the time. No jealousy over here… just a lot of love, a great big brother and my big helper!
Honestly, there’s a lot of material available that will tell you what and not to do. My advice: know, feel and listen because every child’s needs are different. Educate and reassure the older sibling even throughout the pregnancy, spoil them with your time, give them simple tasks so that they feel they’re included, shower them with a lot of love and I’m pretty sure that you’ll be fine!
Til my next post.. GOOD LUCK!
- Cat Arambulo-Antonio