Don’t Forget Your Oldest Child
Sep 11, 2015 08:25AM ● Published by Tyler Hicks
By Leah Spina
In the mornings when we are all getting ready for the day, I often lay out my five-year-old Samson's clothes and tell him to get dressed and brush his teeth by himself. Then I whisk two-year-old Esther away to help her get ready for the day. She cannot do anything by herself, but (hurrah!) Samson can now do a lot of things by himself!
However, my heart melts when Samson often tags in after us after a few minutes, "Mom! I need your help!" His face is covered by his pajama top and he's "faking" that he can't get it off his head. At first I was frustrated at him asking for help on something he could do himself when I was already busy helping Esther and had breakfast to fix, lunches to prepare, etc. But then I realized, even though Samson can do a lot of things independently, he still wants to be with us and be included. It's not fun being sent away by yourself to get ready when you hear Mom and little sister giggling in the next room.
Of course there is a balance in teaching your child to do what they don't want to do each day. But on this one, I really don't mind "helping" Samson with his pajama shirt. It takes two seconds and I try to show Samson extra love when I take it off, "There you go, honey! Love you!"
It happens subtly, but one day your first born is all grown up, requiring much less care. Now most of your time is spent taking care of the younger one, or ones.
But remember that even though your oldest child may no longer require the constant caretaking of your younger children, they still want to be included and loved. They no longer need diapers, or someone to feed them or carry them to the car. But we can still STOP in our day to show love to them and make them feel included. Here's some ways I try to show love to Samson:
- we try to play a board game or read a book outloud each day when Esther naps. (Maybe find a game or activity you can both enjoy together that's your default way to build fun memories - that's the beauty of an older child!)
- I try to proactively give him a hug when he wakes up, when he returns home and at night (think about it - when children grow older, they require less caretaking and, that's a lot less affection).
- I try to take him on errands just by himself, when I can, so I can concentrate on him and answer his 10,000 questions the entire car ride
- I try to make Samson feel important by giving him jobs that only "big boys" can do, and then I tell his dad all about the kind things he did and tasks he accomplished that day over mealtimes
One of my favorite things I love about having young children is how they are my constant shadows as we go about the day. If I need to go complete something upstairs at my desk, I soon hear the patter of little feet coming up and soon, there we all are in the playroom. If I need to throw some make-up on before we run out the door, there are my two little comrades playing beside me in my bathroom as I put mascara on. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Try to remember to include your oldest in your daily routines so that they still feel loved and valued, even if they are big girls and boys now. They were our first babies, after all, and still need their mamas.
Leah Spina is a former journalist of a national
newsweekly turned stay-at-home mom to three children, age five and under. She
lives in the Dallas area with her husband, David, and is a speaker to mom
groups and conferences. Her book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy
the Little Years helps parents to enjoy, not just endure, the little years by
changing their parenting perspective. It launches in October and is available
for preorder now on Amazon. Visit leahspina.com to subscribe to Leah’s blog,
and follow her on Instagram (leahthespina) and Facebook. When Leah is not
burning macaroni and cheese, she enjoys singing Italian opera, riding horses
and drinking inordinate amounts of Starbucks coffee.