Sweet Charlie John. My middle prince. You so want to be big like your hero, James, but you so want to be my baby with nothing distracting me, like August. I want to give you my all but worry that you too often get the leftovers of my energy from running around your busy older brother and exclusively nursing your younger brother. I love you no less than your brothers but feel so much guilt that you are the middle of three young children.
Do you ever feel that way about a specific child? That you’re somehow shorting them by not having them first, or last? While that little nagging feeling of guilt is often present with motherhood, I feel like I’ve been using it to motivate me a lot lately to be more deliberate with Charlie and really create quality one-on-one time with him. Here are three specific things we’ve been doing to connect with each other lately:
1. Dancing! There is a specific song at the end of Charlie’s current favorite Disney movie that just puts a boogie in him and he can’t not dance to it. As soon as it comes on he’ll run to me, grab my hand, and ask me to dance with him (in true gentleman fashion). I’ve promised myself that no matter what I’m doing I will pause and go dance my socks off with my little Prince Charming (which currently happens at least once a day, since that is at least how often we are watching his favorite show lately). It’s a time we get to be silly together and hold hands and get our hearts racing and just be best friends.
2. Dishes! Charlie has recently discovered that he loves helping me in the kitchen. James has never shown interest, so I’ve been able to reign over my favorite part of my domain in peace until recently. When Charlie first started expressing a desire to help me do the dishes (by hand–we don’t have a dishwasher!) I would try to excite him about a show or the trains or something so I could just pound them out quickly and get on with other things without him prolonging the process. But we have figured out a few tricks at the sink to really make it an enjoyable time together, while still keeping it efficient. His favorite is when I take a small plastic dish tub and place all the safe utensils in it and then let him squirt them with a squirt bottle filled with water and a tiny bit of dish soap, to be rinsed off by me later. The kid LOVES squirting things and loves to stand on a stool at the sink and this has proven to be perfect for him. It’s fun to work together and just be with each other.
3. Story Time! I feel like reading to my kids is one of the only things I can say I do really well. I just feel like reading them stories makes up for a lot that I lack in patience and, in my opinion, is sort of the magical cure-almost-all parenting hack. When in doubt, read to your babies! Lately I’ve been organizing VERY casual story times with Charlie’s neighborhood pals. I feel like reading to him one-on-one is just as wonderful as having his buddies over to read with him, but once in a while when I’m feeling motivated, having Charlie’s friends over for a story time sure helps him feel cool. Sometimes I’ll throw together a quick snack for the kids, but most of the time I just grab 5-6 books and a blanket and text my friends to bring their babies over to the hill behind our home in 15 minutes for a short half-hour story time. If we do it outside I don’t even have to worry about trying to tidy up or anything. It literally takes no extra effort and the kids absolutely love it. I’ll start having each child bring a book (we’ve read almost all of our books now!) and maybe even their favorite stuffed animal, but it will always remain very simple so that I have no excuse to not do it. It’s such a small thing that means the world to Charlie and I might be getting a little emotional just thinking about it.
Go to my Facebook page to tell me unique ways you connect with your babies! I’d love to hear your ideas!