Thursday, August 25, 2016

What to do with the youngest child while older siblings are at school

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As we left, tears were just streaming down her face. What was she going to do all day without her best friend? How would she be able to be without a sibling to play with all day long? McKenna, then two, was so sad.

Parenthood seems to be a never ending wave of transitions. We start with our first baby, where life changes dramatically, and transition through sleep needs changing and frequency of meals changing. At some point, we add a sibling and that changes life up a bit. We worry about how to balance life with more than one child, and it can be hard! Yet somehow, we manage.

Then the day comes that we start to transition in reverse if we send our children to school. You start to have children leave during the day to go to school, and before you know it, you are home with just that youngest child left at home. 

Different children respond to this transition in a variety of ways. McKenna cried. Brinley, however, danced for joy. What McKenna saw as a day of loneliness, Brinley saw as a day of Mom time. There would be no one to interrupt her or to take my attention elsewhere. 

No matter how your child takes it, there is a big transition for mom. The youngest child is accustomed to having a friend to play with for most of the day, and without a sibling to be the friend, mom becomes the friend. So how do you work this all out?

1-Have a steady schedule
Make the day very predictable for your little one at home. This leaves less time for her to whine or get bored. She will also feel secure knowing her routine each day and she isn't left wondering what she will do with herself. Some things we have each day are:
2-Have fun things to mix the days up
Structure is fantastic, but it is fun and interesting to have a day every so often where you mix things up. Have some fun things you go do together to keep life interesting. Some ideas are:
  • Go Shopping--you know how moms with babies consider the grocery store and "out"? So do toddlers.
  • Go to the Park
  • Have a Friend Over
  • Go Out for Lunch
  • Go to a Fun Place (indoor trampoline place, bounce house, etc.)
  • Cook Something Together
  • YouPick Farms
3-Sign your child up for something
It is hard to watch the siblings all go and do fun things. The youngest can really feel left out and left behind. This is a great chance to sign your child up for a dance class, tumbling class, music class, etc. Just something to look forward to and something to help your child feel like she has a life, also. 

4-Do not stop life
Do not spend the days stuck at home, waiting for the older kids to come home before anything fun can happen. Will the older kids feel jealous about the fun things the younger child got to do? Possibly. My children do not feel jealous of the things Brinley does, but I do know moms who won't take younger kids places because the older ones will get upset. 

Here is the thing. That is life. The younger sibling should not have to stop living life while the older child is out living life. School is a fun thing to go to. Always fun? No. Hard sometimes? Yes. But fun. With school comes recess, friends, dress up days, assemblies, and opportunities to participate in fun things that younger children are not allowed to do. 

There are definitely activities we save for the whole family, but we still do some fun things with just the two of us or with other little friends of hers.  

5-Volunteer at the school
If you go in to the school and volunteer, with your youngest child, it will be a big excitement for her! I know not all teachers will be okay with this, and not all children are going to be cooperative here, but if you can, give it a try. You might be able to find things you can help with with a child in tow. That way, the younger child gets to see the siblings every so often and feel a part of their school life. Brinley has come help in class with me (I bring a pile of books for her to look at). She has come help me take photos of events at the school. she has helped me just make copies for people. Keep the time short enough the little one won't get into trouble. I find longer than an hour and Brinley gets into things she shouldn't. 

6-Attend events at the school
At our school, parents and younger siblings are allowed to come eat lunch with the kids at school. This is another fun way to visit older siblings. We can also go to assemblies, small talent shows. etc. Brinley loves to see her siblings at school. 

Remember back when you had just one child? Remember how sweet your time was together? You may have worried over the change that would come to that bond and that sweet time when baby number two was on the way. When you are down to just the youngest at home, this is when you revisit that one-on-one time. It might seem scary for you and your might worry that your child won't know what to do with himself. It is an adjustment for everyone, but it can also be a joy.

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Today the ladies of the BFBN are blogging on various transition topics. 

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