When we decided to have our second baby, I knew it would take some time to get our first daughter acclimated to sharing her only child spotlight. Everyone can give you advice, but watching it all unfold is different in every situation.
Our first actually adjusted quite well, but what I didn’t understand was why I felt so guilty with giving so much time to the new baby.
I was nursing and spending a lot of time (especially in the beginning) trying to figure out how to nurse while engaging my toddler and transitioning her into our new life. I broke down into tears one day because I missed the one-on-one connection with my first. It felt like it was slipping away. My husband suggested I take the oldest on a “date.” It was the perfect way to reconnect one-on-one and after several dates, my daughter was actually requesting our special time together. We also created dates just for her and daddy, and in exchange, I then could also have the special alone time with my new baby.
Here are a few ideas to get started on “dating” your child.
- Park Date: We live very close to three playground parks, so we decided to visit each one. We packed a snack for after our playtime together to sit and “toddler talk.”
- Chick-Fil-A: My daughter isn’t even a big chicken nugget fan, but something about driving to the restaurant and sitting across from each other brought some normalcy back to our routine.
- Beach Walk: We are so fortunate to live by some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so take your child to the beach to collect shells or see the sunset.
- Backyard Picnic: This is especially great if you are nursing and still need to be closeby in case baby wants to cluster feed. Just pack a lunch and sit on the porch or on a blanket in the yard.
- Smoothie or Yogurt Dates: Smoothie King is great for letting you order and hang. We sit in the little lobby area, drink our smoothies, and chat away.
- Cuddle Movie Time: A favorite blanket, a big bowl of popcorn, and lots of cuddles is a special way to give attention just to your little one.
- Sit and Read: My daughter loves books and loves to be read to. Find a cozy spot or even go to the library and read some books together. One of our favorite “fitting” books is by Patricia MacLachlan, “You Were the First.”
Those are just some ideas that I hope will help you and your first child find some special time together. I also would recommend these tips for maximizing your time alone together.
- No phone zone. Allow this time just to spend quality time with your first born.
- Designate the time with your spouse or caretaker. Let them know how much time you’re going to be taking and ask that they only interrupt if it’s an emergency.
- Ask your toddler some open-ended questions to help them build trust and stay connected. Open-ended questions typically require a full response instead of a yes or no. For example, “What do you like most about having alone time with mommy?”