Last night, my toddler was not the one who cried at bedtime…it was me! You see, I have been missing out on Max’s bedtime routine since our new baby arrived, and bedtime has always been our special quality time. I love to snuggle and rock him to sleep with no distractions or anything else demanding my attention — until now. With our new baby, everyone is adjusting to new routines and expectations. Going from a family of three has been just as much as an adjustment as welcoming our first baby, except we are facing totally different changes this time around.
I recently answered questions on separation anxiety for a blog called SleepingShouldBeEasy. Ironically, just a couple weeks after this was posted, Max began a severe phase of separation anxiety. He is attached to his daddy like super-glue and becomes extremely upset when his daddy leaves his sight. In fact, if he cannot get to his daddy, he often escalates to a full-blown tantrum. It breaks my heart to see my little guy having such extreme emotions and not knowing how to handle them.
My husband and I agreed to handle his separation anxiety with a few key concepts in mind. For more detailed information on dealing with separation anxiety, please visit the link above.
- Respond with Empathy, Compassion, and Calm: Max is obviously having some very strong emotions, mainly fear and anxiety, so I respond with as much love and compassion as possible. When he is upset, I reflect his feelings and offer to hold him or stay close to him. Sometimes, he lets me know he wants to sit by the door and not be bothered. I respect that too, and he usually calms himself down in 15-20 minutes. For Max, I have found that trying to distract him sometimes makes it worse. If I try to distract him and I see it upsets him more, I take that as a cue that he needs to work through his feelings without my intervention.
- Be Patient: Despite how it may feel (to you and your tot), this is a common phase for kids and it will eventually pass. Stick with your calm and empathetic response or whatever has proven to work best for your child.
- Support the Other Parent: My husband feels bad leaving lately and has sacrificed his own activities to avoid leaving Max. This is fine to an extent, but I want my husband to take care of himself too. Even though it’s hard for me when daddy leaves, I encourage my husband to take some time out. It’s like the old airplane analogy that says during an emergency, you have to give yourself oxygen first in order to give oxygen to others. If we don’t take time for self-care as parents, we will burn out and won’t be able to continue giving to our family the way we want.
Sharing and Dividing Time
Oh man, this is a biggy. I love my husband and I love my two kids, so making time for all of them is important. Up to this point, I have been able to devote a significant amount of time to my toddler , but now I am faced with dividing my time and Max must accept this reality as well.
I am personally adjusting by dealing with feelings of guilt over not being able to give 100% of my attention to my toddler. Yesterday I was feeding little sister and Max was trying his best to get my attention by trying to climb on my lap and stealing the television’s remote control and running off with a come-and-get-me grin on his face. It broke my heart to see his attempts, but the newborn’s needs were first at the moment. Once she was done eating, I set her down and gave Max some undivided attention. It may have been less time for him overall, but was pure quality!
Finding Time as a Couple
My husband and I thought finding time together was difficult with one child, but it’s even more challenging with two kids (both under two in our case). It’s important for couples to maintain a positive and healthy relationship, no matter the circumstances. We can’t really plan a date night at the moment, so it’s important to connect in other ways, such as making sure to give each other a goodnight kiss, leaving an unexpected note on the counter, and even sitting next to one another in the living room. This last one may seem too silly to mention, but I have noticed it’s common for us to sit on different sides of the room because we are working on laundry or entertaining a little one and don’t think about how little time we spend next to one another. Physical closeness can make a difference!
Establishing a Routine
We used to be able to tag-team the duties with one kid, but now that we have two, everything is different. Now it seems we each take one kid…so who does the housework? These are all things that will be worked out but are still worth mentioning as a major part of the transition.
So far, these are the biggest challenges we are experiencing as part of the transition. I have no doubt that more challenges will arise, but I’m confident that all of us will manage as long as we work together as a team and as a family. If you have gone through a similar transition, I would love to hear from you!
Originally posted 2012-07-17 08:22:05.