The night before I gave birth to my second child, I was beyond nervous.
I knew that my firstborn would never again have my undivided attention — and I felt extremely guilty about this. Not to mention I couldn’t help but wonder … Would I be able to love another baby as much as I loved my son?
A very wise friend of mine saw how distressed I was. She only had one piece of advice — the only piece of advice I ever truly needed:
Always make time for each child individually.
She went as far as to say that even if the baby required most of my time, that I should focus on my older son and ensure he knew that I was never was too busy for him.
Now that my kids are 12 and 9, I can honestly say it was the best advice I ever received. If you have more than one child, spending time alone with each one helps you build trust and communication — and it also lessens sibling rivalry.
It may seem obvious, but as busy moms it can be hard to carve out special one-on-one time with each child. Most times it doesn’t happen spontaneously; I have to make an effort to plan time with each child. For example, my little girl loves to help me select fruits and snacks at the supermarket, so we go together in the evening or on weekends. She also enjoys cooking with me, preparing desserts or making smoothies, so I use those opportunities to ask her about school, what has she learned or if she’s read anything that has caught her attention. Other times I will stay in the gym while she trains with her gymnastics team. On special occasions we will go to concerts together, and while I might be working at the events sometimes, my daughter has become a pro at helping me snap pictures or take notes for pieces.
My son, on the other hand, enjoys staying up late at night on the weekends and sharing a snack. We also took a brief 48-hour trip to Disney World recently that will stay with me forever. It was such a unique, fun experience to go alone with him. And it’s not just me — my husband likes to take him to basketball and soccer games, so they get their own one-on-one time, too.
While I am lucky in that my kids get along with each other most of the time, I have noticed that when they are getting special, uninterrupted attention from my husband or I, they are less likely to bicker. The only tricky part? Making sure one does not feel slighted or get jealous when it’s not their turn to do something alone with me. While that certainly happens, I do believe it’s important to not just to make your children happy — but to make sure they can be happy for others, as well.