Tips: navigating needs in times of change

Navigating their needs in times of changeWe had the best trip to the aquarium last week—any chance for a 45 minute trip, drive through espresso en route and quiet time (forced naps) along the way is good with me! The kids were super pumped about the penguins, sharks and the “fishies” (Kate especially). I personally love the jellies, I could spend my entire time in that exhibit! And the sea turtle! Well.

I’ve noticed the kids have been a bit needier as of late. I think our initial weeks with our third baby, Emma, were pretty seamless, everyone adjusted pretty well actually! But as things have settled, both of my older children have expressed their need for more mom or dad time. Luke shows it in his times away from me and clinging a bit right before we have to say goodbye. Kate has shown it in that she’s wanted to be held for about a week straight now 🙂

Then they both just flat out always miss dad when he’s at school or work; you and me both kiddos. So I’m in this process of learning how to fill their love tank but still be aware that there are challenges that they can conquer without me (for Luke, being able to go for a morning or two of preschool each week).

Everyone’s perspective differs so much, but I hope to give my kids as much security as I can in these moments, or at least err on it. There are some moments where they can totally muscle through and do hard things, and then again there are moments where I want to give them the freedom of being only THREE or ONE (really.. they are babes.) and being needy.

I look back on moments of great need as a kid and I’m so grateful my mom figured out how to let me find comfort with her. I’ll never forget getting to sleep in her bed after a nightmare and how special and safe that felt.. I knew she was less than thrilled about it (I kicked. A lot. I’ve seen Luke sleep and get a pretty good picture!). When she did give in, there was no cozier, safer place for my little self.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:

Expect feathers to ruffle in some way: Tantrums, developmental milestones or behavior that contradicts your family rules is extremely common. I find that expecting this is helpful for me. Remembering that their entire world, as they know it, has changed dramatically and they will be looking for ways to understand in testing things around them.

Set aside time for each child: Make time that is special and unique for everyone—even in the simple tasks of daily life. I try and find space in our rhythm to be with each. Bedtime snuggles are a go-to for Luke. Kate loves to curl up on the couch, and especially loves special outings *just* her (ie grocery shopping). When Emma is napping, I’ve been able to enlist help to be present while I have a quick one-to-one moment out of the house. Even a half hour can replenish!

Include your children: I have found that especially the 2-3 year old sibling is especially great for this. Luke was 3 and 1/2 when Emma was born and he couldn’t be more proud to run and grab a diaper or help in some way. Kate just wanted to be part of it all so snuggling during a nursing session was inclusive enough 😉

If you are still preparing your children for baby:

Talk about what they can look forward to: It is really reassuring to have fun moments of anticipation to hold onto (see here). Letting them know the joy that comes with a sibling and even thinking out loud about all the play times and adventures they’ll share focuses on the positives.

Don’t overplay the negatives: this was very helpful to me! If they aren’t having a problem with it, don’t make a problem out of it. When children adjust well and embrace things in a healthy way, celebrate them. Be aware of books and movies that go overboard on highlighting the negatives—keep it out of their process if they’re not naturally dealing with these issues!

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