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How do I give older sibling quality time?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
My new babe is still only 2.5 mths old, but my relationship with child #1 (dd, almost 4) is deteriorating. DS is either nursing, awake but needing attention, or hanging out/sleeping in the sling ALL DAY. I spend the whole day with my daughter, but have no time to DO things with her, like playing catch, doing puzzles, crafts, etc. The only thing we can do together is to read books while ds is nursing. Also, I do take her to the park and chase her around with him in the sling. But what she is needing is some real, one-on-one mommy time.

Those of you with more than one - how do you give the older one some good quality time when you have a younger one who lives ON your body? DS won't nap, except in the sling, so he doesn't give me any time to be with DD. Will this pass? Should I just make a whole lot of playdates for DD? She just lies around the house whining most of the day, and I know it's because she's bored and wanting me to DO something with her. HELP!!!

p.s. by the time DH gets home in the evening, we are trying to get dinner on the table, and then we're cleaning up from dinner, and then it's bedtime; also, that's DS's time for cluster nursing and power napping. So no time there....
post #2 of 5
Hello Alohamama!
If possible, could you hire a babysitter or person who could come to your house and hold baby while you spend tiem with your DD? Not saying to leave them alone, but just another person to be there. She/he could also go to the park with you or anywhere else. They would be nearby, so if baby woke up and needed to nurse or just needed you, you are right there. Then the other person could play with your DD. Just an hour or two a day.

Just an idea. Hope you find something that works for you.
post #3 of 5
Congratulations on your baby!

It's really hard. Your baby is still very young though, and things WILL change.

My older daughter was younger when my second was born, but some things I did to keep my relationship strong with her were go on lots of walks and talk with her the whole time, learn how to tell stories without a book, play games like "I'm thinking of something that's red and round and..."

Your daughter is at an age where playdates are really fun, and if you can arrange some, that might help. A swimming class could be fun, too, especially if you get a mesh sling to hold the baby in.

Something that got us through a lot of rough spots were those little rides that are sometimes out in front of stores. They're so inexpensive, and they really can do a lot to cheer up a child.

Another thing we did was go out for snacks from time to time. I'd get coffee and depending on the season, she'd get ice cream or hot chocolate or some other treat.

Perhaps you can get her to help you with things, too, like peeling and chopping vegetables for dinner, washing dishes, and other things that have to get done anyway. Even though she may be slow and not do a great job, she will feel like she is helping you.

I sometimes question the idea that siblings need alone time with their parents. For some kids that's necessary, but for us, once we worked out the kinks of taking care of two, my daughters would always rather do things as a family. The few times I took my older daughter out alone, both of us worried so much about the baby that it didn't really help.

Good luck!
post #4 of 5
I have 5 kids now, ages 15, 13, 10, 8 and 2. When they were young there just wasn't time to have a planned alone time, and ours are still happiest when we're all together, they like their outings with friends, but enjoy being home very much. I sometimes think the whole 'poor thing, now mommy won't have time for you' attitude has caused a lot of problems (I'm NOT saying you did this at all, just what I've observed in a few families I know.) There are books about it, people will say it right to kids sometimes. I tried to explain before the next baby was born that mommy would be busy for a while, small babies need lots of time, but that passes and then, not only would they be able to play and interact with baby but mommy would start having more time to do other things with them, too. I remember snuggling with our oldest on the couch while nursing his newborn sister. He'd bring toys over and we'd play together, there's lots that can be done with one hand. Even when our last was born, there were times I'd be nursing him holding a hand of cards so I could join in with the other kids.

Even now when I take the 2 year old for a stroller ride someone will always want to join us. I did start having out to lunch days a couple of years ago, every other week or so I take one of them out for lunch. We do any shopping they need done and have lunch together, they love it. It also gives me time to ask the older ones if there is anything on their minds they want to talk about...some things might be embarrassing for them to discuss when they think someone else could happen in to the room.

It's also very valuable for children to learn to entertain themselves. There are times that moms just have to get some things done. When they were small I encouraged them to do some things on their own. I bought those end rolls of newspaper and would cover the table and let them use water color paints. They loved that!

As your baby becomes more aware of others you'll find things get easier, I could always get something quickly done while the baby sat in an infant seat if one of the other children would talk and play with baby. Soon your baby will be happy to watch you play some with your daughter. One of the first things our little guy loved to watch was the other kids tossing a ball back and forth.

Good luck!
Sue
post #5 of 5
Alohamama,
I thought I must have written that post and forgotten about it!! You have totally described my life. Except that bubby is 6 months now and ds is just over 4 years. I know exactly how you feel wishing that you could have quality time with child #1, but with a baby that never sleeps, or only in the sling tied to you. What can I say?

Well when I do get to spend the time with him, which is really rare, I really enjoy it and realize how much we've lost. But I'm still clinging to the hope that it will get better when ds #2 is crawling and happier to entertain himself, or they can finally play with each other. Every day is different, sometimes I read books to him while feeding, sometimes we put on music and dance around like we used to bc that hasn't changed just bc I'm holding a baby, I make efforts to do the things he loves most like taking the train to the city to meet Daddy for lunch, etc. But some part of me is very sad bc it's never going to be just me and darling boy ever again and the second child will never really get that.
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