Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Super Awesome Big Brother Kit

Before I jump into the fabulous-ness that is the Big Brother Kit, first let me give credit where credit is due. I shamelessly stole this idea from my cousin, Meg, who blogs over at The Coop. If you love all things crafty, clever, creative and just a bit country, that’s Meg in a chicken-lovin’ nutshell. Read her. You’ll love her.

A year ago, Meg gave birth to Baby Boy #2, and she made the cutest Big Brother Kit for her older son. I instantly fell in love with the idea and vowed to make one for Quinn long before Baby Dragon was even a thought.

Time has gone by quickly, and Dragon will be here in just eight weeks (or five weeks if he decided to show up three weeks early like Quinn did). Quinn’s already quite comfortable in his new role as Big Brother. Now that he’s in his Big Boy Bed in his Big Boy (train-themed) Bedroom, he says he ready to pass on his old crib and old toys. (He talks a big game now, but we’ll see how well this actually goes over when his little brother gets here.)

To help Quinn prepare, I made him this Big Brother Kit as a gift from his baby brother. I wrapped a box in blue paper. Then, on sticker paper, I printed some trucks and construction images that I bought online for decoration. I don’t want Q to unwrap the box so the paper and stickers would stay intact (for a little while at least), so I cut off the top flaps and left it open on top.

The part of the kit I’m most proud of is the homemade sticker book.  (We have a real name picked out for Dragon, but it’s still a secret so I blurred it out in the photo.) I'll tell you how I made this cool project in my next post.

I’ve done a lot of reading about how to prepare an older child for a new baby, and one of the common pieces of advice is to show the older child photos of himself when he was a baby. So I designed a simple photo book at Shutterfly.com full of pictures of Quinn when he was a newborn. (Shutterfly has some really cute baby book templates.)

We’ve been telling Quinn that part of being a big brother is being his little brother’s hero, and he loves that idea. So I bought him one of those personalized superhero capes that comes complete with an eye mask and wrist bands. It’s the perfect Big Brother uniform. (Meg made her own superhero cape because she's incredibly crafty.)

Since I have to have another cesarean section (more on that later), the baby and I will be in the hospital for four days, so the kit includes some new toys to keep Q occupied when he comes to visit us. There are miniature construction trucks, a floor puzzle, and the book Steam Train, Dream Train, by the authors of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, one of Q’s favorites. Also, Q has always loved his friend’s toy car carrier, so Dragon is giving Quinn one of his own. This will come in handy to hold all his new Hot Wheels cars.

The Hot Wheels cars are not actually part of the kit. Another piece of advice I read was to have small gifts on hand to give Q when other people visit and bring gifts for the baby. I have all the little cars individually wrapped so whenever someone brings a gift for Dragon, I can give Q a new car for his car carrier as a “big brother gift.” Some people will probably bring a little something for Q, but not everyone will think of that, so we’re prepared. Any leftover cars will go into his Christmas stocking.

I know some of you might be rolling your eyes and thinking all this is very materialistic and extravagant, and you definitely have a point. But for two year-olds, the arrival of a new baby can be hard to understand, so I want to make sure Q doesn’t feel replaced or unimportant. The Big Brother Kit serves several purposes.

First, it makes the event a celebration of Quinn becoming a big brother AND a celebration of the baby’s birth.

Second, the kit is a gift from Dragon to Quinn so he instantly sees the baby as a friend who loves him and not as a rival.

Third, it’s hard for kids to see other kids getting gifts and not receive any themselves. When it’s someone else’s birthday, it’s just one day, and I can teach Q that the day is about another child just like his birthday is about him. But when a new baby arrives, people bring gifts to the baby for several days, sometimes over the course of months. To see the baby repeatedly getting gifts and never getting any himself would be very hard for a two year-old. Again, I want Q’s big brother status to be celebrated, too.

And fourth, I’m not gonna lie, nothing temporarily distracts a toddler from negative feelings like some new toys.

Has anyone else out there tried giving your older child a Big Brother/Sister Kit? What did you include? Did it elicit the positive reaction you were hoping for?