I believe it is safe to say that this is the first postpartum when I've truly had children old enough and numerous enough to help me substantially with the new baby. That doesn't mean I'm sitting around eating bonbons, as I still have five children to take care of, but I am enjoying having helpers!
Margaret (4-1/2) is an Assistant Helper who would do more if I'd let her. Below is a picture of how I found her one afternoon when I'd set the baby in his swing so I could work in the kitchen. She put a blanket on him, gave him her bear Snuggle, and was reading aloud a picture book to him "to help him fall asleep." Indeed, his eyes were heavy when I came upon them and he did fall asleep!
Mary (6-1/2) is my Little Mother Hen! She is thinking of Thomas' needs for much of the day and will hold him for me just about any time. Sometimes I ask her to hold him while I'm cooking dinner or while I'm pumping milk. Big Sister has a real way of soothing him: she hums her Suzuki Violin songs to him and he really seems to enjoy that.
I wish Thomas didn't take any bottles, but he still can't nurse sufficiently on his own, so bottles are our reality. Therefore, I've taught Mary how to feed him with a bottle and she does an excellent job doing a "paced feeding," which is a slow method of feeding in hopes of getting the baby back to breastfeeding. Mary knows how often to pause and burp the baby, and she knows when to try to offer him the pacifier instead of a bottle. Mary is a real treasure to me right now!
If Mary has a fault, it is that she is overly independent in taking care of her almost-six-week-old brother! One day, Chris was cooking dinner within eyesight of the children, the kids were watching TV, and Thomas was asleep in his swing, so I asked to step upstairs to do a chore. I returned 15 minutes later to discover that, unbeknownst even to Daddy, the baby had woken, and Mary had discovered he had a poopy diaper. She got him out of his swing, carried him to the bathroom (not having been taught or given permission to carry a baby while walking), and changed his diaper while laying him on the bathroom counter (not having been taught how to change a baby's diaper, and certainly not having permission to set a baby up on a counter!). Then she prepared him a bottle and was feeding him when I returned. Thankfully, Mary executed everything properly, but I did instruct her about changing diapers only with the baby on the carpet, and about asking our permission!
John (8) loves his baby brother, but is more of a helper to me than to the baby, I've noticed. He runs and fetches things for me all the time (often up or downstairs, wherever I am not), which is such a help as I can remember all too clearly having two and three tiny tots, none of whom were really old enough to go and get me anything.