Before we had Luca, we were given copious amounts of advice on how to prepare Avery for being a big brother. Gift giving, brain washing, special jobs, the list goes on. And while some were mildly helpful, the one piece of advice that actually makes the biggest positive impact is unfortunately the hardest to execute – finding alone time with your first-born.
It should be much easier to steal away for one-on-one time, but when you don’t have a sitter or family closer than a 6 hour plane ride and you stay home with both kids all day long, it makes it incredibly hard to do. I tried doing it duri ng morning nap, but that is also the only window of time I have to cook, clean and make myself look and feel remotely human. And usually by the time I shower and get the house in some semblance of working order, I sit down to have quality play time with my firstborn just as his brother starts crying. #thestruggleisreal
I tried doing it in the morning before my husband goes to work, but with our new sleep schedule of ‘try desperately to get the baby to sleep, then put the older one down’, Avery stays up later and sleeps in later, so Micah goes to work right about when the kids wake up. And night is just NOT an option – survival is all that happens after 4pm amidst a flurry of bath, dinner, tantrums and bed.
Here’s the thing though – when I do get oh-so-precious alone time with Avery, there is a NOTICEABLE difference in his mood and behavior. He isn’t annoyed by his brother’s existence. He doesn’t act out for attention. He doesn’t intentionally do naughty things. He doesn’t have accidents and regress in his behavior. So despite how hard it is I do my best to find the time.
Weeks when I know I haven’t had enough time, I like to plan special mommy-Avery only days. This past weekend we went to the pumpkin patch in the morning, then his baseball game and a birthday party. It was a long, exhausting and incredibly special day. It melted my heart as he would randomly just say “mommy, I love you and I love this day.” It seems so small, but for him (and for me) it’s EVERYTHING. This week he was especially missing mommy time as we have just hired a sitter a couple of days a week so I can write more, so having a full day uninterrupted was beyond special. This weekend he was in his glory.
He commented on how lovely it is to not have a crying baby in the car (which hasn’t happened in months – but made me realize how the trauma of his brother’s colicky phase has stuck with him as well.) He asked me to buckle his seatbelt for him (even though he can do it himself.) He asked me to carry him when he was tired, and I did all of it. I babied him. Because, no matter how big he gets, he will always be my baby boy. It was glaringly obvious how much he NEEDED those
things. He needed to feel like I was there to 100% take care of him, just him. He needed to feel like he didn’t need to be the big brother, the older sibling, the one that doesn’t NEED mommy’s help. Because, even though he can do things by himself, he still needs to feel like I am here to take care of him.
So, if you have more than one kiddo, or you are getting ready to expand your family – the only advice I have to you is fight to find that alone time. They need it. They need to feel like they are getting 100% of your attention. No phones, no siblings, nothing but you and him/her. It seems so small, but it makes a world of difference.