5 Tips For Keeping Your Older Kids Busy With a New Baby in the House

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Image adapted via Flickr/ Ben Grey

Babies are hard work. I have four children, and you would think I would be used to how much work kids under 1 year old are, but here I sit with my 8-month-old and am still surprised. Yes, he wants my attention at all times of the day. If he gets sick or doesn't feel totally 100%, he will scream unless he's held–it's to be expected sometimes when you have a baby, but what does that mean for your older kids?

I have heard so many times over the past few months from my kids just how bored they are. For the record, I don't think boredom is a bad idea for kids because I think some boredom and quiet can spark imagination and lead to great things, but sometimes, I feel guilty. My youngest requires a lot of attention, more than any of my other kids do, so keeping them busy and entertained while I am busy with the baby is something I've been striving to do.

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If you've got a house with older children and you've just welcomed (or soon will) a new baby into the house, here are my tips for keeping the older kids busy and entertained while you're busy with the sometimes colicky, often demanding, new baby.

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Image via Flickr/ vauvau

Invite them to help out

It is understandable that when you're trying to get the baby down for a nap and your older child keeps interrupting that you'd get frustrated. When I try to get my baby to finally sleep, one of my older children always comes in, waking the baby just as he's starting to drift off. They come in to ask for food or to say they're bored or who knows what, and it would frustrate me to Crazyville, so I decided to switch it up. I would ask them to help me out, and making them a part of the baby routine changed every frustration. It helps them stay busy, feel involved, and stops me from getting upset.

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Image via Flickr/ Monkey Mash Button

Ask a friend or babysitter to come over for a few hours a week

I have a wonderful network of family who loves to come hang out with the kids, and on days where the baby is being super challenging, they come over and help me with the older kids. It's nice that the kids get some attention that's not dependent on what the baby needs, and they can do fun things they may not be able to do with just me around.

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Image via Flickr/ pcutler

Put on an educational television show or movie

OK, so movies and TV for kids sometimes gets a bad rap, but it's not all bad. Sometimes, when you're really busy with the baby, throwing on an episode of The Magic School Bus or something else educational can keep their focus and attention while you're busy with something for a little bit.

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Image via Flickr/ Matthew Routley

Have a “boredom bucket” on hand

My older kids love to color, draw, and play with little cars so we have a “boredom bucket” that I bust out for just those times. I don't let them play with the contents unless it's a time where the baby is needy and the older kids need to be occupied. It's something they look forward to, and it's been a lifesaver.

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Image via Flickr/ Roebot

Set a “quiet time” each afternoon

When my kids were younger, but too old for needing an afternoon nap, to keep my sanity and to keep them busy while I was with the baby, we had a daily “quiet time.” I used it as a downtime for the kids to slow down–be kind of bored–but occupied with books in their room, and that would allow me to recharge, to focus on the baby, and to not worry about the kids feeling left out.

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What are some of your tips for keeping your older kids busy while you've got a new baby in the house?

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5 Tips For Keeping Your Older Kids Busy With a New Baby in the House

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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