Making Time for my Big Kid with a Baby

Amalia and I had a rough start but we are very very close now. Like bordering on maybe we should set some boundaries close. She is a mama’s girl through and through and wants to be near or on top of me at all times. And while I definitely need my alone time, I don’t like to be apart from her for very long either. We are madly in love in the best way possible.

When Luca was born, she was thrilled to become a big sister, but her world was turned upside down. I no longer had 100% of myself to give her. She had to share me with a tiny stranger and she was not happy about it. She never came out and said that, exactly, but she showed it in certain behaviors.

My own first childhood memories are of when my sister was born, but instead of remembering that time as lonely or scary, I remember my mom making “special time” for me and I really wanted Amalia to have those memories too.

So I’ve been putting a lot into our one-on-one time to make it memorable and fun for her, the same way my mom did for me.

Below are a few of the ways that I try to do this.

100% present playtime: All of the special trips and dinner dates aside, we both benefit the most from solid one-on-one everyday playtime at home. Time where I put my phone away and color with her or play dolls or play “school” or do whatever she’s in the mood to do. She loves playtime with me and also with Anel so on the nights where one of us puts Luca to bed, the other one spends time giving her some solid parent/kid play during that time.

We used to use that 20 minutes to clean the kitchen post-dinner and prep for the next day while she played alone but it makes everyone so much happier and calmer to do nights this way.

One-on-one dates: Every once in a while I surprise her after school or on a weekend with a dinner date for just us or lunch out somewhere. We call these surprise mommy dates and you would think she’s going to Disneyland because of her excitement level. I usually bring markers and a coloring book and we’ll color, chat, or play I Spy while we wait for our food.

Involving her with Luca: I let her do little things like help me pick out his outfit every morning or distract him during particularly messy diaper changes. She feels involved in the action that I’m doing and also loves the “responsibilities” of being a big sister.

Special trips: Last fall I took her to Williamsburg for a press trip and last weekend she and I went to visit my aunt in Cape Coral, FL with my sister and niece. She got a lot of one-on-one mommy time on both trips and talks about them both incessantly.

Lots of conversations about feelings: Amalia is great at expressing her emotions. She’s a sensitive and empathetic little girl so it’s extra important for her. I check in with her every day about how she felt that day and most of the time she says fine and moves on but every so often she brings up something that made her feel happy, sad, or mad and we talk about it for a few minutes.

She has told me more than once that it makes her sad when I have to give Luca his bottle so through those conversations we’ve come up with things we can do while I’m feeding him to make her feel involved. She sometimes likes to hold the bottle for him or she will snuggle in next to us and flip the pages of a book so I can read to her.

As both kids get older, I know this dynamic will twist and turn into something new with every stage, so I am trying hard not to take these moments with my girl for granted.

Photo by Julia Dags.