By Erin Lelko, RN
When my second kiddo was born, my first child had a hard time adjusting. It was also about that time he was hitting the terrible 3’s (which no one ever seems to talk about). I quickly realized there was not only a power struggle for independence but now also for quality time. Along the way, I learned how to balance my newborn and toddler without multiple tantrums in the process.
The two most valuable tips I picked up along the way would have to be implementing Mommy and Me Dates as well as establishing “Talk-Time” with my toddler. We started doing this weekly and I noticed significant changes in his demeanor towards me, as well as his little brother. They give him the ability to feel like a “big boy” while also giving him something to look forward to.
These dates are not exquisite or expensive but they do contain three important principles.
1.He gets to help me pick out what “pretty items” I will wear (ie. a ring, earrings, necklace, how I do my hair, etc.)
my son’s go-to item is the spaghetti necklace he made for me.
Rule is what he picks I wear… and of course, I wear it with pride!
He never fails to look at me and say “Mommy, make me handsome.” So I do his hair and sometimes he asks me to put on his clip-on tie over his t-shirt.
2.Date time is completely uninterrupted.
Yes, I turn off my phone! I tell him I’m doing it and he gets so excited!
3.I’ll give him 2-3 choices for our date and let him pick and if there is money involved like getting a smoothy or a soft pretzel I make sure he has cash in his little pockets so he can pay. I’ve noticed this Helps him feel big and important!
Mommy and me dates are fun, easy, light-hearted, and mostly take part in our house or outdoors while his little brother is napping. Every now and then I’ll surprise him with a special outing and do something completely different but for the most part, they are right in our home.
One mommy and me date consisted of us going on an adventure finding the shape and color of the day while collecting items. Another consisted of pretend play in an African jungle chasing monkeys in our own backyard while also enjoying a special picnic snack outside.
I also make sure he knows that I have mommy and Me dates with his brother too. This is important so he knows how able and capable his brother is.
We reserve time right before bed for mommy and me talks. It doesn’t happen every night, But maybe a couple of times a week. Once he is tucked in and books have been read I cuddle in his bed next to him, we stare up at the ceiling and we talk. I start by saying..” buddy what’s on your mind? What have you been thinking about today?. If that doesn’t lead anywhere I ask him “What good things happened today?” or “What things were frustrating to you.” This has become a bonding time allowing him to share the craziest “random” toddler thoughts, feelings, and struggles. Talk time sets us up for open communication lines in the future and gives him security to know that mommy will never be too busy to talk. My goal is that he can feel safe to tell me anything. It’s become a very special time for us!
below I have listed links for mommy and me date ideas
I hope you enjoy future dates and talk times with your toddlers too!