Hey, y’all. It’s Jess again.
I have two kids 21 months apart. It is HARD.
Under normal conditions, it is hard.
With a pandemic, it is damn near impossible to be everything for everyone all the time.
I am exhausted.
Of course, as soon as I finally started getting comfortable taking both kids out and about in the world, a freaking pandemic happened. So, I have had to get extra creative in meaningful ways to bond with my kids at home.
1. Make time for them alone
I have had to get really creative for this one because I am never alone. My baby likes to be touching me 24/7 making it tough to get any alone time with my oldest.
I babywear all the time to get even a smidge of “alone time” with her. I take them on walks often so my baby can hang out in the stroller and enjoy the scenery. Sometimes he falls asleep and my daughter and I find somewhere to sit and have a snack and chat.
When Dad comes home, I ask him to take our baby so I can give our daughter a bath alone.
I have to try extra hard with my daughter because the baby often takes priority. He gets all my time and while I love that, I often find my daughter seeking my attention. I know she is doing it because she isn't getting enough and my whole heart breaks.
2. Take them on “dates”
This is my favorite thing to do because it’s for both of us. My daughter and I used to do this all the time when it was just me and her.
Going to restaurants isn’t an option still so we get take out and eat in the back of the car or a grassy spot. I’ve also set up picnics with charcuterie boards in the backyard. These are her favorite. I pour grape juice in a fancy plastic cup and we both sit enjoying the sun.
On the days my daughter naps, I take the opportunity to do something similar with my baby. I set up a super messy food that I know he will enjoy and we both go crazy playing and eating.
If my daughter wakes up before we finish, she joins in. If she doesn’t, I give my baby a special bath or set up a water activity after so he isn't too messy.
Pro tip: use your lifesaver mat for easy cleanup! They are my go-to for messy activities or post water play.
3. Have special songs/books
I love books. It is one of the only things I wanted to share with my kids.
We have an absurd amount of books.
It is the only thing I simply cannot minimize.
It would only make sense that I would get my kid's special books for just us. I gave my daughter her book while I was pregnant with my son and we drew on the inside cover. Now, it's our special book.
We read it every night before bed and look at the picture we drew on the inside.
When she was still in my belly, I started singing an Elvis song to my daughter and it always calmed her. It was like magic. I sing this song to her all the time and she knows its OUR song.
I have a special song and a book for my son as well. The bond is just as special. He is still a bit too young to understand that it is just for the two of us but he still gets excited when he hears his song and mostly smacks the book out of my hand but I count that as bonding.
4. Set up special activities they love
My daughter loves art. My son loves music.
When I have a chance, I try to set up activities where both or one can play and enjoy something they love with me.
Some days we do music and just play and listen to different songs they like. We dance and make a mess. They both have fun but my son extra enjoys it.
Some days we make a mess with paint or colored shaving cream in the tub. My daughter has an extra pep in her step on these days.
Pro-tip: Smockets are LIFE for art-loving kiddos.
5. Just be present
I sound like a Pinterest mom, no? Do not be fooled.
These activities do not happen every day. I can manage maybe one or two “special” things a week. The rest of the time I am just trying to make it to bedtime.
The only thing I try to do daily, is to be present. My time and attention are all I can give my kids, and honestly, it’s all they want. I am enough.
I have taken a huge step back from social media because I was wasting my day scrolling and I hated it.
I text my husband and some friends throughout the day but try to be intentional with my usage.
Pretty much daily I need to remind myself that the years are short. I feel like I blinked and a year went by.
Motherhood is so hard. It is so lonely. It is so exhausting. Our kids don’t always make it easy but they do always make it worth it.
I look back at all our “special” times with such a happy heart. If I am honest though, it’s the moments that happened organically that I wish I could relive over and over again.
Do not feel any less if you don’t plan special activities because all our kids want is us there with them. Us in all our perfect imperfection.
We are the whole world to those tiny hearts.
What are some of your favorite memories with your kids? How has the pandemic changed your bonding activities?