Having two or more kids can be a whirlwind. It is for us, it seems, more often than I’d care to admit.
You’ll hear a lot of people tell you that you need to carve out special time for your first child once the second one comes. That she needs your attention — uninterrupted quality time where she is the sole focus — because she is so used to spending all his time with just you. But, that can easily be forgotten along the way.
I’m guilty of forgetting. Maddie is about to turn 3 in a few weeks and Sophia is starting kindergarten in just over two weeks. It’s crazy how fast that time has flown by. I’ve found myself getting increasingly irritated, annoyed, angry with Sophia. She’s a demanding child and knows what she wants. When she doesn’t get it, she’s not happy, and well, I’m sure you can imagine how it goes. It’s been rare in the last three years that either my wife or I have gotten to spend a ton of time, just one-on-one with Sophia. We let that attention escape us. Not on purpose, mind you. It just happens when life is busy and you’re trying to balance schedules, life, tantrums. All of it.
A funny thing happened this week. Lunchtime on Monday, I got a call that Sophia was sick. High fever and her belly was upset. So, off I went to pick her up. And, as is always the case with a fever and daycare, she couldn’t go back on Tuesday. So, home with me she stayed as I tried to work from the house.
We spent the entire day together, save for the out-of-character 2-1/2 hour nap she took. She was, in a word, perfect. No outbursts, no tantrums, gleefully going to the doctor to get her ear checked out (yes, it was an ear infection). She listened to directions and was just a joy to hang out with. I don’t know if I’ve forgotten how great it is to just spend time with her – just the two of us – or if I’ve just gotten used to not doing it. But it brought me back to those solo child days when spending quality time one-on-one wasn’t ever a problem (hell, I was a stay-at-home dad with her when she was a baby).
These last couple of days have served as a reminder that I need to go out of my way to make sure I spend plenty of quality, one-on-one time with each of my children. They need to know I want to spend that quality time with them. Who would’ve thought it would have taken a sick day to remind me of that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nick Browne is member of our Philadelphia Dads Group. He is a dad to two daughters and writes the parenting site PapaBrownie.com, where a version of this first appeared.