1. We were always clear that we were part of a "family". A family is not centered on one person, certainly not centered on the first child, and it only gets better with each new addition. We (all five of us) are a team, and the children are a team as well. Our eldest kept saying to her brother. "now both of us will be the older kids". They are a team as well as my helpers.
2. The children excepted more so there was no surprise. Yep, we prepared our daughter that we wanted more children, so when we had our son and now the baby she took it all in stride. She is even asking if next time we can have a boy baby and a girl baby at the same time, like in her dollhouse:) I just keep telling her that we would like to take it "one at a time" but that it is out of our control, although she is welcome to pray for what she would prefer.
3. The new baby brings gifts. Our son gave our daughter a play kitchen, which he took over as soon as he could (see that here), and the new baby gave the older ones a slide from Ikea. We also threw a Big Sister/Big Brother Party, instead of a baby party. It's easy to keep the focus on the older kids when the baby is little and doesn't know the difference. Plus I also point out that the baby can't talk, walk, eat yummy food or play with toys.
4. We praise the siblings to the baby. When I'm talking to the baby I'll tell her all about how lucky she is to have been born into this family with such loving siblings. I tell her all about the older kids, what makes them special, how much I love them. They overhear this and it makes them shine. Plus, the baby is focused on my expression and tone, not the specific words coming out of my mouth.
5. We have a lot of help so I can focus on each child. With the big kids in preschool I can spend plenty of time in the morning with the baby, going to a mommy group, music class, all the fun things I did with my first. My son loves to cook, so he will often help me make dinner and we have special time then, plus when I put him down for his nap. Then my daughter is usually up first, so starting at 6am, we have time to do her hair, talk about her day, and be together. This is all possible because of my amazing husband, my local and supportive family, and our nanny, who will take a child or two so I can be with the other one.
I want to end this post by saying that I'm not perfect, our family is not perfect, and I don't even try to come close. As mothers we often put our best foot forward, both online and in person, while keeping the real chaos of our days private. Don't judge your daily life against someone else's highlight reel. The above photo, is clearly part of my highlight reel, all three children in bed snuggling before sleep.