Do you have more than one child at home? Do you almost always or primarily do group/family outings? Well, I have 2 daughters – Julia was born in 2006 and Stella in 2009. My wife and I read Adele Faber’s book “Siblings Without Rivalry” in preparation for baby #2 and it gave us a lot of great pointers/guidance…we highly recommend the book, and if your kids are not babies/infants/toddlers anymore, the statements/principles in this book carry-over to school-age kids and above.
Now, having adjusted (and continuing to adjust) since 2009 to being parents of two girls and dealing with Julia’s adjustment to being a big sister and having a sibling to share Mommy & Daddy with has made me think about this blog post and want to share our story and some tips that work for us.
First let me take a step back and talk about the preparation for baby #2. My wife nursed Julia and planned to do so with Stella as well. So we bought a few “sibling” books to read regularly to Julia during the pregnancy and would periodically remind her that when the baby arrives, Mommy will be nursing her and will be very busy caring for a new-born baby. We also focused on Julia being a big sister and how she could help Mommy and her baby sister by getting a diaper or wipes and such.
When the baby was born and the first time I brought Julia to the hospital to visit, a “big sibling” gift from the baby was there waiting for her! It was a Leapster handheld game system and a game cartridge from the baby…it came in handy to give Julia something new, interesting and educational to focus on and play with!
Overall it was super helpful that Julia was already in full-time Montessori school (M-F 8am to 3pm). She loves school and it is “her” world with her own friends, education and fun.
After getting home and settling in with the new baby, as my wife nursed, Julia would watch and had the opportunity to chat with Mommy. When Mommy and baby napped, Julia would watch a little TV (DVR of Nick Jr. & PBS shows rock), play on the computer (see my post on our Favorite Kid Friendly Websites), read some books, play on her own…or if Daddy was home, hang with me!
Although we did our best in adjusting to a second child and helped Julia feel loved and secure in our now family of four, I can honestly say that I felt Julia (after having a stay at home Mom all to herself for 3 1/2 years) outlook became “If Stella has Mommy all the time, I guess Daddy will be mine.” I say this not in an evil or mischievous way at all, but from the mind of a 3 1/2 to 4 year-old who once had both parents all to herself, let alone a stay at home mom and now felt like she (in some meaningful level) has lost the connection with Mommy.
So, the above lengthy introduction is how I came to realize “The Importance of One on One Time with (each of) Your Kids!” Here are some of the things we do and I can honestly say that my wife and I both see and feel the difference with our girls on having that special one on one time and it helps ensure a healthy relationship for each child with each parent.
- I drive Julia to school most days, so we get 30 minutes of quality time most weekdays as we get ready, have a quick breakfast and drive to her school. I know she values this time and routine because every once in a while I have to be at the office early or am out-of-town on business and for Julia “It’s not the same when Mommy and Stella drive me to school.”
- Sometimes when I get home from work, when Stella took a second nap, I will take Stella and get her to nap while my wife and Julia can spend some one on one time preparing dinner or doing a craft or weather permitting spend a little time in the yard!
- We really try to schedule some one on one time for Julia and my wife every 4-6 weeks and I get quality time with Stella! Last month they went to see The Nutcracker ballet and during winter break from school they did a Mommy/Daughter movie matinée and saw “Tangled”. Sometimes it’s just as simple as the two of them going grocery shopping or for a treat at the top your own frozen yogurt place a few minutes from the house. I have to admit, if I have Stella alone for a few hours, my goal/routine is play, play, play for an hour = have fun and get her tired for a nap :o) Usually works like a charm!
- There are certain things that are more Daddy-centric, such as Julia on occasion likes to go with me to my Weight Watchers meeting, or if my wife is tired and wants to relax/nap with the baby, Julia and I may go to the aquarium.
- This past Christmas, Julia and Mommy went on a special shopping trip to get Daddy’s stocking stuffer (a new Starbucks travel cup!) and a gift for Stella (toddler musical bells). Little things like this help big sister “get involved” and soothes her soul.
The above are some examples of what we do that’s worked. We know this because Julia’s mood is fantastic after the one-on-one time, she talks about the special outings periodically (girl has a memory like an elephant) and asks what/when she will do something else with Mommy or Daddy. Also, having Stella spend one-on-one time with Daddy helps balance things out since she’s with Mommy all day and gives my wife a well deserved break!
Care to share your ideas and examples? Please leave a comment! Thanks!
- Yep, I have a Daddy’s Girl…maybe two! (declutterorganizerepurpose.wordpress.com)