Since the arrival of our son approximately nine weeks ago I have been learning how to give both boys the love and attention they need. Obviously the baby doesn’t understand ‘just wait, someone else needs me right now,’ but my toddler does. And that is a huge blessing. He can be quite independent and very creative at finding things to do while mommy is taking care of other things. He can also be quite needy at certain times and I have figure out how to work with that. One of the most important things I have learned is that I must multi-task more.
Here are a few ways I am making time for my toddler:
- Reading to him while caring for the baby. I can sit on the sofa next to him, feeding the baby, while he holds his book and I “read” to him. I call it reading, but it’s really me reciting the story that I have read so many times it is now carved into my memory. I will also do the same thing while I am changing the baby’s diaper. He sits in the chair in his room, book in hand, while I recite the story for him. He even knows what page he is supposed to be on depending on what I am saying.
- Doing housework together. I doubt I would get anything done if he didn’t help me. He loves to do dishes with me. He loves helping with putting laundry into washers/dryers, taking the laundry out, bringing it to me and helping me fold. He sets the table for me. He likes to dust while I sweep or vice versa. He loves watching the vacuum when I run it. He loves to help dump things in and stir when we are baking. Of course it generally takes longer to accomplish tasks, but he is learning and getting some much needed mommy time.
- Playing with him while holding the baby. Putting the baby in a wrap works really well for this. I can chase him around the house, dance with him, tickle him, smooch and snuggle him all while holding a baby who also needs attention. This does require care so that the baby doesn’t get hurt in the process.
- Making special mommy and me dates. I have just come to realize that I don’t get a lot of alone time with my toddler, so I need to make some. This past weekend he and I went to the park for about 8 minutes in the cold rain so that I could see him go down the slide all by himself. His pants were soaked, it was mostly dark and his fingers were so cold that on the way home he asked for a ‘band-a-daid’, but we both loved every minute of it. What a blessing it was for my husband to watch the baby so we could have that. I will be trying to do more of that.
- Taking advantage of when the baby does NOT need me. When the baby is napping or having some alone play time I try to make a point of really being present with my toddler. Even if we are folding laundry I try to discuss the colors of different articles of clothes, ask him questions, go over the alphabet or count with him. Sometimes I have to switch from ‘get things done’ mode to let it go and love your toddler mode. Which brings me to my next point…
- Let it go. There is a never ending list of to-dos when you are a homemaker, and you can’t get them all done, maybe not even half of them, with small children. I try to remember that if the boys are fed, changed, have clean clothes and are kissed and hugged that’s all that NEEDS to get done. Anything after that is icing on the cake, or day.
That is, in a nut shell, how I am spending my days with a baby and toddler. I am constantly having to remind myself to do these things, but day by day it is becoming more natural as we adjust to being a family of four instead of just three. And that works for me.