Friday, March 25, 2011

Undivided Attention

Parenthood is not for the weak-hearted.

Sometimes I feel like even if I had 4 arms, 30 hours in a day, and my own personal clone, I'd still have trouble keeping my head above water.

Lately has been one of those times.

One of the associated challenges is trying to give my children as much individual attention as possible on a daily basis, which I think is very important, no matter how brief or simple those interactions may be.

I do this in a variety of ways: rocking Bab-E Brother to sleep, reading Little Brother a bedtime story in his room, or having breakfast with Big Brother before the younger boys wake up.

Of my boys, all of whom value the 1:1 time, it is perhaps the most important and most frequently needed for Big Brother. For him, this individual time is a major "currency" of love.

Of course, when everyone in the family is together, it's probably the hardest to give Big Brother that undivided attention, by virtue of the fact that he's bigger, less likely to need carried, and capable of more independent play.

But still, he's only 6, and without 4 arms and 30 hours, this is a source of frustration (for him as well as for Mom-E and I), that sometimes leads to verbal outbursts in an otherwise well-behaved child.

We had such an outburst the other evening. Tired and hangry (hungry + angry), Big Brother was, shall we say, very "vocal" at dinner. Things reached the level of time-out, which helped only briefly.

But there needed to be consequences for this behavior, to affirm that it wasn't acceptable. Big Brother had been informed that if his behavior didn't improve,he would not be able to go to a movie with me on an "early relase" day from school (which for both of us is a very highly valued date.)

It didn't improve, and the movie plans were cancelled.

This, of course, led to another verbal outburst.

And while Mom-E and I "stuck to our guns' (i.e., no matter how many times you profess you're sorry and promise not to yell, you've lost the privilege of going to the movie). I still felt bad "taking away" a special activity (although an alternative activity was planned), since of course he's always an angel during our dates due, in large part, to the undivided attention.

But still, it's an important less for him to learn, that behavior has consequences, and while "I'm sorry" is a good start, it's just that: only a start.

Like I said, parenthood is not for the weak-hearted.

Have you had a similar experience? How do you "capture" that individual time with multiple small children?

Have a good weekend,


  1. Oh, the division of attention. Yes, I am there everyday. I think its even harder for a woman. We get pulled in so many directions that is so hard to even find time for yourself. And yes, parenthood is not for the weak. Rosi

  2. I too struggle with this as I have two babies who are 4.5 months and one child who is 2. It is so challenging and parenting is certainly not for the weak....however i do feel weak sometimes! I think little cousin is too young to grasp longer term consequences like the one big brother had to take. However, i can speak more to the division of attention. Sometimes little cousin and ihave one on one time at breakfast, but the bedtime routine is special and one on one. Many times the babies stagger their afternoon naps, so I try to avoid the urge to clean up messes etc and just spend special time with whichever baby is awake. It is so special and important. With two babies at once, I have found it especially important to take the little bit of time to bond with them, as I know you feel the same way with having three kids! love aunt-e

  3. I don't have small children anymore, but I remember this dilemma. I just tried to be with each of my girls one on one as much as possible. It isn't easy. Good for you for sticking to your guns as hard as that is. Parenting is NOT for the weak-hearted!