As a new parent, or a new-again parent, you have many many demands on your time. You need time with your new baby, of course. And you need time with your other child or children.
But none of the other responsibilities went away. Time with your spouse, friends and extended family, cleaning, balancing the checkbook, and more.
Sure, some people picked up the slack for a few days, but slowly it all shifts back on to your shoulders.
So it is important that you set boundaries and set priorities. And one of those priorities, for the sake of their own development, is independent time with each of your children.
Here’s how you can help this happen.
Combine the work with the people you love
Consider the ages of your children and loved ones, the time you need to spend with them, and the work that needs to get done. One solution to the trouble is to build a schedule where you can combine them as appropriate.
For instance, while your oldest might not be able to help you plan the PTO meeting, perhaps he can help with dinner. On the nights when you are cooking, you now have your very own sous chef.
Your children, in fact, should be helping with other tasks around the house anyway. First and foremost, they need to learn that this is how a household works – everyone contributes! Secondly, it is the only way that all the work will get done, and there is no choice but to get most of it done.
Invest the time to teach new skills
As your family expands and the tasks become harder to manage, your children should be expected to take on new jobs.
In most of these cases, the person you are recruiting does not yet have the skill to do the work. There will be a learning curve. So the first few times out can be focused simply on learning. Maybe you design a tutorial for the work.
Perhaps your budding young chef needs to learn how to dice and slice? That’s okay. Teaching him these details allows for valuable time together – including some of the hand over hand instruction and direct contact that he seems sometimes to shy away from as he gets older.
One of your children might be able to help at the grocery, retrieving specific items from this aisle or even a different one, as their age and the situation allow.
Children of all ages love being a helper, and over time they will find their growing skills and their contribution to the family to be a valuable part of who they are. You are creating together time while also fostering their skills and their sense of independence.
It’s a win-win!
About your baby. Your newest addition will certainly need the most direct time – reading, talking, and deep eye contact are an important part of the bonding experience. But for some of the day, a chest pack or backpack can keep your baby close while you get some of the important work done independently.
And of course, you should always use your actions and your words together to tell your child you love them.
There is always nap time – until there isn’t
Of course, there always remains the true joy of a new young parent’s day: nap time. Finally a moment or an hour or two of peace and quiet. The endless demands will stop for a short, undetermined amount of time.
There is a gentle pause in which you can – for a precious moment – just collect your thoughts.
Whether you use that for online shopping, sneaking an afternoon snack, a few minutes of mindful yoga, or a nap of your own, it always helps to have a plan for how you will use this time.
The worst feeling in the world is letting a nap time go by without feeling like you did anything to push your day forward.
That’s not to say all the time has to be productive. Sometimes the best thing for yourself is a mental break, and some downtime with Netflix or doom scrolling Twitter.
It can feel overwhelming, sure, but together, you and your family are enough to get it all (or at least the most important stuff) done.
Struggling with co-parenting, or just looking for an outlet for the stress of parenting? You likely will benefit from talking to a licensed therapist like Sakina Issa.
Luckily, these conversations can happen discreetly and by appointment using the same tools you have grown comfortable using at work, like Zoom or GoToMeeting. Just click the button in the upper right hand corner.
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