Dear Naomi, I have two children - almost 7 years old daughter and 2 years old son. I dont organise their days in any way - they get up, when they want, eat when they want, play when they want etc., so our days are very unpredictable. I do enjoy it, but have the problem with being available to my children when they do need me. Especialy my older child does suffer from this, because her younger brother needs me a lot and it is unpredictable when and for how long he will be playing by himself and let me to play with his sister. The only time my daughter can be sure, that I will be with her, is the naptime of her brother, but this is also very unpredictable when and for how long he will nap, and he often naps all the time at my breast, so we can just read a book. My son is not willing to be with anyone else but me, so I cannot promise to my daughter to be with her, when he will be with someone else. I think that for this reason is my daughter more and more often demanding and cranky, recently she even has started to show her power over her brother (however she always has been and still is very very loving towards him) Have you any insights how can I be more available to both of my children? Thank you very much and sorry for my english Petra
There is a lot more I would need to know to fully answer your question. I would need to know if you co-sleep, if you have time with your daughter at night, if she likes to be with her father, if she would play with someone else, if she has friends and other activities she enjoys, and, if needed, if you can afford to hire part time help to play with her. I also don’t know if you are spending some of the time doing house chores that could be done by your spouse later in the day.
Assuming there is absolutely no other way but for you to be alone with both children for long periods of time, I would suggest that you engage with your daughter while breastfeeding. Reading a book is not the only thing you can do. I have played board games with an older child while breastfeeding. He had to move my movers and give me the dice to throw as needed. You can sing together, you can watch her dance, act or show you something she likes or play cards and words games. Be creative.
Instead of saying “I can’t,” say, “I would love to. Lets see if we can play while your brother is breastfeeding/sleeping.” Your intention will help her feel included in your life. If she wants to build together with blocks while breastfeeding, say “yes” and try it. it may not work, but the process of discovering the problem is one in which you are excited about being with her, and, you say “yes,” so she feels loved. She can handle not being with you; she must know that you want to be with her.
When your daughter wants you and you absolutely can’t be with her, validate her feelings and give her an idea when you will be able to engage with her and how much your are looking forward to it. Your daughter can handle it if she doesn’t sense your anxiety. Stay peaceful and trusting of her strength.
At age seven, your daughter may also be ready to be less focused on her time with you. You can introduce new exciting opportunities into her life like a gymnastics, musical instrument, new art project, a new home made swing, getting together with a friend etc.
She will compete less for time with you, when there are new engagements that excite her.
As for your toddler; it is typical at this age to want only mother. It will change. Meanwhile, make sure your toddler doesn’t lose you when Daddy comes home. If your son has a memory of losing you when Dad holds him, he will come to the conclusion that he must hold on to you, so you don’t vanish. Toddlers become interested in time with Daddy or grandma when they can enjoy them first from your arms and then with your presence.
Enjoy the now. It will change soon.
Warmly, Naomi Aldort, www.AuthenticParent.com