One of the biggest anxieties parents face when expecting their second (or third, or fourth, etc.) baby is how their first born (or older children) will adjust. Whether your babies are going to be 10 months apart or 10 years apart, this transition could bring challenges...but also opportunities. One of the ways I like to work with families to address this concern is to brainstorm ideas for special rituals to do with their first born before the baby arrives.
In my Postpartum Visioning Workbook, we are guided with the common elements present in all traditional postpartum practices. Rest/Retreat, Support, Warmth and Ritual. Unless we have some sort of religious or cultural affiliation, we usually have at best, a tepid connection with the idea of ritual. But anything done with intention can be a ritual. It can be 5 minutes that you sit in our favorite chair and drink your morning coffee. I can be a daily walk you take with your kid and/or partner. Ritual is an invitation to do something with intentionality.
Here are 8 ideas to do with your kids from home for FREE/CHEAP that will make them feel loved, special, connected, and like they still have some normalcy from their pre-baby life. All of these ideas can be done from home and require minimal strain on your body while you let yourself heal in the early weeks postpartum. And they only require you to be away from your newborn 30-90 minutes depending on what you have time for. You could do this while the baby is sleeping, but ideally you would carve out this time when someone else (partner, grandparent, friend, or doula) can be with the baby.
1. Take a Virtual Tour
If your kid has a subject they're really into right now, look online to see if you can find a virtual tour. You'd be surprised how many awesome videos are out there. Lots are free. Some cost around $10. But when you think about the cost of going out to a museum, it's money well spent if you and your kid can do something fun together from home.
2. Living Room Picnic
This can be a super fun and easy thing to do together. You can build a pillow fort or simply lay a blanket down on the floor (or put a picnic blanket down in bed if that's where you are most comfortable). Have someone pick you up some of their favorite foods and drinks and make a meal of it.
3. Movie Theater Night (or Day)
A favorite cozy activity is to curl up together on the couch (or bed) with some popcorn and watch one of their favorite movies or a new movie they've been wanting to see. You can even make little paper tickets if you've got an extra 2 minutes to make them feel extra special.
4. Spa day
If you've never done something like this before, you might be surprised at how much fun it can be! You can lock yourselves in the bathroom and soak your feet in the tub. Add some bubbles and if you have essential oils let them add a few drops of their favorite scent. If you are someone who likes painting your nails, let your kid pick out a color they like and follow up with a little polish on their fingers or toes. Then you can move to the bedroom and give each other a little massage. Get some lotion and essential oils, let them pick which one they like most. Add a few drops and give them a little foot rub. They might want to return the favor too!
5. Take a damn nap!!!
Let's face it. You need sleep. If your kid still likes to nap and cuddle in your bed, take a nap together. Although this seems like you're not "doing anything," you are! So much bonding happens while we are asleep.
6. Play with them
Sometimes the best thing you can do is just sprawl on the living floor with them and play with blocks, trucks, stuffed animals, whatever! The key is that they have your undivided attention and the space to just "be" with you.
7. Get outside
While I generally encourage birthing parents to stay in bed as much as possible for the first few weeks after birth, sometimes we just need to get outside. Breathing fresh air can directly lift your mood and gives your kid some much needed movement as well. Going outside doesn't mean you need to over-exert yourself. It could be a 10 minute walk down the street or sitting next to them while they dig in the sandbox. The biggest thing here is to keep your body WARM. Remember I mentioned warmth as one of the postpartum care elements above? Even if it's summer time take extra care to be layered and cozy enough.
8. Ask them!
Ask your kid what they would like to do together. Maybe they want a specific special treat. Maybe they want to do a craft with you without the baby interrupting. Give them some specific guidelines, though in terms of place and time. That way you can avoid them making a request that you don't feel up to fulfilling. Or set a date to do something big a few weeks into the future. Put it on the calendar and let them look forward to it.