The hardest thing I've found about having two children has been balancing my time between them (never mind making time for myself.)
Set the scene: I'm standing in the diningroom with newborn Max screaming in the pack and play, five year old Luc screaming for help in the bathroom. Quick Mom... who do you love best? Who's going to get your attention? As subsequent scenes happened repeatedly, I remember feeling completely frazzled, turned around and growled at Luc, "I NEVER made you wait when you were a baby!" I was angry. This wasn't fair. I'm neglecting my baby.
A few weeks go by and now Luc is waking in the night and coming to our bed---something he has NEVER done in his entire short life. I finally realize that as much as my newborn Max needs me, life didn't stop for Luc. While Luc's getting lots more attention from Dad; Mom (the one who promised so much after the pregnancy was over) is constantly nursing, burping, cuddling, and cooing with the new guy. It's true: everything I was afraid of has happened.
Here are some tips to consider when dealing with the juggle.
1. Finding Quality Time
Be inventive! Remember, quality time means time spent together regardless of activity or duration. So, when your husband says, "sure, I'll watch the kids while you go get groceries..." consider asking your first born to go along with you. I admit it, sometimes I'd like to walk out the door by myself but it's important to keep the relationship strong between you and your first born too.
I've been delightfully surprised at how much nicer the trip to the grocery store is these days. We actually speak to each other, laugh, and Luc gets to pick out a cool snack or drink.
2. No Excuses
Be careful not to blame your inability to provide undivided attention on your new child. That's a sure way to create animosity between them and increase plans and schemes for your attention. Sometimes while I sit and nurse Max, Luc comes over with his Batman figures or small trucks and we play on the couch. It's a simple game but I think it's funny that it's "our" game. He doesn't even ask, he just comes over with the toys and says, "C'mon Mommy.... let's play."
3. You're the Big Boy
Teach him that it's great to be the big boy! When I know that the baby is going to sleep for a bit I come to Luc and offer a fun activity that we can do like make cookies or brownies. I explain that we need to work quickly to take advantage of Max's nap because doing things like baking is for big boys, not babies.
4. Don't Make it Work
I try not to make Luc feel like being the bigger brother means having more work. I do talk to him about caring for Max, why he's crying, why he eats so much, how he plays. Luc enjoys playing with Max from time to time. Max has started smiling and laughing at Luc which has been terrific. I am quick to tell Luc that Max is enjoying his company.
Max is not a fan of the car and recently while on a short ride, Max was screaming his head off. I could hear Luc sweetly saying to Max, "we're moving Max, we're almost there." Then Luc said, "Mommy, I'm rubbing his belly because I think his belly hurts."
I'm constantly (dare I use the word validating?) Luc and telling him that his instincts with his little brother are amazing and right on track. I explained that maybe he was right and Max's belly did hurt because he was hungry.
4. Calm, Breath, Back to Center
Okay, you've had the day from hades. Here's what you do: go into their rooms at night when they're fast asleep and look at those beautiful faces. I guarantee you'll do what I do; sigh and think, "ahhh.. they're pretty good little guys."
Copyright 2003 Claudine M. Jalajas