Splitting your attention between multiple children is not an easy task. You don’t need to split your attention evenly between children though. Most kids manage really well without constant attention as long as they have some time with their parents where they know they are the most loved and important person in that moment.
Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
- With the arrival of a new baby try to stick to your previous routine with your older child as much as possible. If dad did baths and mum read stories before, then keep it this way as much as you can.
- Where possible, try to include your older child in the caring of the new sibling. She may even like to suggest ways in which she can help. If she doesn’t seem interested, don’t force it. Make sure you acknowledge any help she provides so she knows you are paying attention.
- Look for opportunities throughout the day when you can connect, even briefly, with each child: a smile, touch or loving comment.
- Make one-on-one time every day where you focus solely on each child without distractions of chores or siblings. Let your child lead the play or activity. This need only be 10 minutes to be effective.
- Choose a time once a week where you go on a special outing with each child and get some alone time together where you can shower her with love and attention.
- Teach your kids that they don’t need your attention all the time. It’s important for kids to learn to entertain themselves or play with their siblings without adult directions. This not only gives you a chance to get other things done but builds on kids’ skills to imagine, problem solve and play.
- Make an effort to learn a little about you individual children’s interests. Your child may like to teach you something he knows or can do, you could go on an outing together related to his interests, or you can attend any events his extra-curricular activities hold.
- Seek supports for yourself. You may need help from a partner, family member or friend to look after one child while you spend time with another. Make sure that you and your partner are sharing the load as much as you can and also finding time for one another.