By Cheryl Bac
Joining inUploaded: Jun 22, 2017
As a parent of young children, I hear a lot about how important it is to "join in." How we parents should not only take photos of our kids but get in the picture ourselves. We should spend more time playing on the floor with our kids. And we should find more opportunities to spend quality one-on-one time with each of our kids.
However, when taking care of a newborn, I ended up watching my two older kids much more than I was joining in and playing with them. My attention was, not surprisingly, very skewed toward baby. And, because baby wanted to be held frequently, I was also limited in what activities I could physically do.
When our baby was a newborn I sometimes tried to divide my attention and give a little bit to each of my kids. This didn't work well. No one ended up happy. When I tried to feed baby while reading a book to our older kids, baby didn't always feed well and my older kids didn't like how many reading breaks I took while trying to comfort baby. When I tried to sit down and play cars or Lego with my older kids, baby would usually wake up and need to be comforted.
I ended up giving our newborn most of my attention and letting my older kids do their own thing most of the time. I spent most of my time holding, feeding, and comforting baby while my older kids came up with games that made little sense to me, flipped through books, and turned their room into one big obstacle course.
As baby grows up I'm starting to join in the fun with our older kids again little by little. She is no longer a newborn and is happy to spend a bit more time on the floor watching her siblings run around and play. I'm finding more and more pockets of time to color with our preschooler and mold playdoh with our toddler.
When parenting multiple kids it's not always possible to give everyone equal attention. My baby needs to be held. My baby needs to be fed or changed. My toddler spills water. My preschooler is hungry. My toddler is missing a shoe. My preschooler gets hurt. My toddler breaks a toy. My preschooler is sick. I'm constantly giving my kids attention, but right now baby is getting the majority of it.
This summer I'm exited to join in the fun with my toddler and preschooler when it works out and let them do their own thing when it doesn't.