Friday Open Thread: Bonding Edition

Happy Friday everyone!

Whew… what a week! Between being back at work and traipsing through Southern California with my visiting niece and nephew, I am feeling like I have spent very little time with Alex. I’m so glad to be working a few hours from home today, and spending some quality snuggly time with my sweet baby boy.

And then, there’s my daughter! During my 5.5 months of maternity leave I felt like I had the baby attached to me during just about every waking moment; Maya was busy with school or dance lessons or soccer practice, and DH took most of the chauffeur duties on while I stayed home with the baby.

Which, naturally, made me feel guilty. My daughter was the center of our universe for 5 years before her baby brother came along, and while she has handled his arrival with so much love and grace that it melts my heart, I kind of miss spending one-on-one time with her. Just us girls.

I have vowed to make more of an effort to do so, whenever possible. I have taken Maya with me while I get pedicures at the local nail salon; she sits in the chair next to me and gets her toenails polished while I get my hoofs sanded down, and we giggle and chat and pick out each other’s colors.

I’m trying to make more of an effort to switch bedtime duties with DH; he can give Alex a bottle while I read Maya her favorite book. Then we cuddle in her bed for a few minutes before I give her a kiss goodnight.

This week I rushed home from work to grab Maya and meet up with a friend and her son for a trip to the circus. I was breathless and exhausted by the time we took our seats, but it was nice to sit in the dark and watch the awe on her face while the clowns romped and the acrobats flipped. It was heaven not to be interrupted by a fussing baby and even better not to have to lift my shirt up once to offer my baby a meal! Maya crawled into my lap for much of the show and we shared popcorn and cotton candy. It was also nice to catch up with my girlfriend and commiserate with a fellow working mama about the crazy push-and-pull that some days can bring.

We came home with lots of stories to tell Papi and a shared experience to remember. Maya will be entering kindergarten next month, so I feel like I have to cherish each moment while she still thinks I’m the coolest person ever, and while she still finds events like the circus magical :-)

How do you ladies with more than one child ensure that you spend individual quality time with each kid? Any tips, advice, stories to share?

This is an open thread so chat away!

51 thoughts on “Friday Open Thread: Bonding Edition

  1. It never stops being hard

    lol – I wish I had better news – but the “spend time with MEMEMEME!” seems to be ongoing (and maybe my mother would  say the same thing about me and my brothers).

    Anyway, I also try to find 1:1 time with both kids, and now that DD is “grown”, it’s even more important.

    There were some very important moments when DS was a baby where I did just what you did – leave the baby with DH so DD and I could have together time.  One interesting twist happened when DS was 2 or 3 – he was fighting me at bedtime every night, so DH took over.  It was hard to “give up” DS’s bedtime, but what we got in exchange was dedicated DH/DS time almost every night, and time for DD and I to sneak in “our” TV shows.  Still, at 11yo, DS looks forward to the 15-20 minutes just him and dad every night (and boy oh boy, has DS missed that while DH has been in India).

    But, my mother warned me – kids are like black holes – no matter how much time you put in, there’s always room for more.  Sometimes I get frustrated that no matter how much t ime I spend with DD, it’s not enough – she still  thinks I pay too much attentin to her brother.  I have learned to let that slide, and to be very glad that little bro (the typical second child?) is much more laid back and takes what he can get and is content.

    I walk DS to school every day, and I’m already sad that he won’t want me to do that this coming year (middle school).  It gives me the 15-20 minutes of no distraction time with him that is so delicious.

    • :-(

      Even though my kids are younger, I know what you mean about how sad thinking about the things you won’t get to do for much longer.  

      But you seem to have maintained such a great bond with your daughter.  What’s your secret?

      • With my DD

        I think the main thing is my willingness to listen – even when I want to be doing something else, even when what she’s tellilng me is challenging, even when she’s going on now for 15 or 20 minutes about John/Joe/Jim and obsessing about the date…….I listen.  

        That helps me learn what’s  in her head, helps me gently provide feedback, and to help her reflect on how to keep growing.   We argue, don’t get me wrong.   We drive each other  nuts some days.   But when she says “thanks for listening, mom” or “you’re the only one I could tell this too”, it makes it worthwhile.

        The other day,  in a work crisis, I called my mom for advice.  Later, my DD said “that’s going to be me in 10 years – so be ready to give advice”

  2. You’re supposed to BOND with them too?

    good grief as if feeding and clothing and housing them weren’t enough!

    NOW you tell me…

  3. I wrote a letter

    to Target. Cynmill – I checked your FB post for links. I had missed the later part of the discussion. Sorry your relatives were being jerx. And your husband is awesome.

    • I agree!

      Just went back to the thread – I commented way to early to see the vitriol.  Very impressed with your comments and your husbands!  Nice.

      • Thanks

        Even though I was mad, the nicely-brought-up girl in me really struggled with if I was being too mean/sarcastic/obnoxious, but I decided it is, after all, my space. I make it a policy to never comment negatively on anyone else’s page, or to their friends who I don’t know. But my boundary is going to be if you come to my page and spout off, I’m going to fight my midwestern Lutheran politeness & tell you to suck an egg.

        • you’re still kind of being polite

          I’m going to fight my midwestern Lutheran politeness & tell you to suck an egg.

          a lot of people would substitute a different word for egg.

  4. Can’t wait to see…

    Erika and the kiddies! I have yet to meet my honorary nephew Alex. Can’t wait to hold him and give the kids presents from Tia Elisa. :)

  5. Date Nite –

    When Baby R was just newly arrived, I instituted a date nite with my son. It worked great. We usually went to dinner, place of his choice (olive garden) Then the au pair left, school started up, blah blah blah and we lost date night. My sweet son would start acting in ways that would result in more (negative) attention and try to engineer situations that would result in him getting more time w/me….I re-started date nights again last Spring. Happy boy. Happy mom. Now R wants her own date night.

    • This is such a great idea!

      The other thing I read is when baby comes to try to spend a half hour a day with the older child. I used to think that this was such little time, but when baby came I understood. I usually spent that half hour with Ari in the evening, either bathing him or reading to him.

      Now that we are out of the baby and toddler phase — whew! — I have more time to spend with both of them. We either go out somewhere together, or I take them out separately depending on what I am doing. For Ari, it’s the movies, and for Eli, it’s shopping.

      • he feels so special

        after date night. and such a “Big Kid”

        I notice that other attention-grabbing behaviors calm down and he is more relaxed and easier about R inserting and asserting herself.

  6. Greetings from wingnutistan

    The kids and I are at my family’s back east, where one computer’s homepage is set to Fox News and the other to Drudge… Biting tongue … One more day. Actually the number of cracks has not been too high but it’s weird how few values we seem to share.

  7. it’s really wrenching

    to feel as if you’re leaving your “baby”.  I started feeling it about the last couple of months of each pregnancy.  While I looked forward to the new baby, there was always a small part of me grieving over the idea that the  youngest child was no longer “the baby”.  During those last couple of months, I’d be very aware of everything we did, and I’d try really hard to make time to do things with the other children…especially the younger ones.

    Having so many kids, carving out individual time was, and is, a challenge.  We still try to do it.  Last week, even though the weather was horrible, I spent part of a day out with one of my oldest daughters.  A couple of weeks ago, I spent an afternoon with a daughter at the bookstore.   Tomorrow, two of my kids are coming with me to the meet up.  Next week, a couple are coming with me to spend a couple of days at my mother’s.   When the kids were all little, both my husband and I used to take just one child with us when we did small little errands.   They used to really like being the only one to go with mom or dad to the grocery store, or carry out or the bank.

    To be very honest, my health being poor over the past decade has served this purpose, too.  There’s a lot of time for kids to just come up to my room and hang out with me.  Often, this would be only one child at a time.  Many times, though, I have a few in my room with me.  We have a huge master bedroom, and I’ve often thought that it’s become a second family room.  In fact, I thought about getting a chaise lounge and/or a couple more chairs in here, but I thought again….the kids might NEVER leave my room if I did so.

    • I love your perspective!

      You are such a valuable person to me! :)

      I love the way you describe leaving your baby. I do feel a little bit like that’s what’s happening!

  8. awwww!

    that’ll be me soon! I don’t quite get the 5 months but I am going through this whole “omg, my daughter is perfect right now, why did I want another kid? what am i going to do?” but I’m sure it’ll be ok. They will be almost the same age too. I’ll be looking forward to seeing your navigation techniques :)

    • here’s the thing

      watching your firstborn (or youngest) become an older sibling is such a fun/beautiful process. I am in awe of how Jessica has evolved into a big sister. I do grieve the one on one time, but on the other hand, if we never had a second child, she would never be a big sister and never get to express this beautiful love, protection, empathy that she has with Lily.

      • True dat

        One of my greatest joys is watching my kids interact with each other.  I think that as our family continues to grow, there’s probably less that DH and I can provide in a material sense but we did give them each other and they seem to enjoy that.

        • Oh yes

          I keep telling this to friends who are having their 2nd babies — it’s so amazing to watch the kids together. I especially love it when they don’t realize I’m watching, and they’re in their own sib-world.

  9. excited

    Very excited, just got a letter that my little student will get door-to-door busing, free from the district, to our new Catholic school next year!

    I knew the high schools had that, but for some reason I had no idea that they provided that for elementary schools.

    Off to the shore for two weeks, that is almost as exciting LOL.

  10. Put that in your pipe….

    In his 97th attempt to quit smoking (and he’s tried just about every other avenue), my husband is going to buy a pipe and some tobacco.  I was a tiny bit skeptical, since how will tobacco help him stop craving tobacco?  But I suppose that’s what nicorette gum and the patch do.  It would be better if this were just a step in the right direction, but I’m thinking that, even if he smokes a pipe for the rest of his life, it will be better than cigarettes.  True or false?

    In the past, I’ve encouraged him to get a hookah.  It would be luxurious and a great conversation piece, and I likened it to having cheetos every day or creme’ brulee every once in a while.  But he didn’t like the idea, and realistically we don’t need a hookah pipe hanging around–it would pretty much necessitate smoking inside, which would make us worse off than we are now, and who wants their toddler getting into a hookah?  So a pipe seems like a great solution.  Sitting down and smoking one’s pipe a few times a day doesn’t seem like such a bad thing at all.  

    • pipes

      My dad smoked a pipe the entire time I was growing up, and I just love the smell of pipe smoke. It so much sweeter than cigarette smoke. And you’re right, it is not nearly as bad for you as cigarettes, although my dad eventually gave it up because of the increased risk of cancer in the mouth and throat. This really sounds like a positive step for your DH.

      • I’m not loving

        the smell, it turns out.  Perhaps it’s stronger, or maybe it’s just that it’s so different and I’m not used to it.  But I do think it’s better than cigarettes, and smoking a pipe outside will further cement my husband’s position as the harmless neighborhood eccentric.  

    • good luck!

      I would think that you wouldn’t smoke a pipe as frequently as you would cigarettes — it’s not quite as simple as just pulling out the cigarette while you walk down the street, etc.

      hope it works for him.

      • That’s the idea

        It’s a much bigger production to smoke a pipe, so he can’t do it as casually.  

        The funny thing is, a few months ago I learned that our local yarn shop had a tiny tobacco shop in the back, run by the owner’s husband.  So I sent my husband there, and she was thrilled to have a new pipe customer.  If it helps keeps the yarn/tobacco shop open, all the better!

      • Tried that

        It worked great for him the first time, but in this one small way my husband is similar to yours–when he saw he was running out, did he call the doctor and get another RX?  Nooooooo…..he just acted as if, oh, well, what can one do when one’s prescription runs out?  When he went on it the second time, it gave him suicidal thoughts, and we’d rather have him die of lung cancer when he’s young-old than commit suicide now, considering he’s not even depressed.  But it was frustrating, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that he broke the spell by going off of it for a while, and if he had stayed on it the whole time, he wouldn’t have gotten the unfortunate side effect.  

        Wellbutrin?  Worked until it didn’t.

        The Patch?  Burned his skin.

        Gum?  Gives him heartburn.  

        Bah.  I’m glad I never started smoking, but I’m still a little irked with DH that he did.  It was 1997!  The results were in–smoking was bad for you and highly addictive.  Argh.  

        • you always crack me up

          Nooooooo…..he just acted as if, oh, well, what can one do when one’s prescription runs out?

        • A friend

          did well with Chantix — she’d said in the past that she liked smoking, so would never quit. But, it’s been a few years now and she still thinks it sounds revolting. She didn’t have any of the scary side effects but did say it messes with  your head.

          The weirdest thing has been happening to me lately — I’ve always been a rabid-anti-smoker, and yet for some reason, maybe stress, I’ve been feeling like taking up smoking! I won’t for a long list of reasons, but I’m kind of wondering why it keeps popping into my head.

          • Huh

            Well, smokers are good about drawing boundaries–I’ve never met one who’s shy about taking a five minute, um, breather for themselves every hour or two.  Maybe you want to step outside and be left alone for short but frequent periods of time.  

  11. i finally had my OWN houseguests!!!

    lonespark, nanna sparky, kid sparky and baby sparky, at the very last minute, decided to stay the night at my house.

    are you guys jealous, or what???????

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