Before our second child was born I made a vow to myself to give my firstborn, D, special one on one time once the baby came along. He was so used to being the only one in mommy and daddy’s lives, and I wanted to remind him just how special he was to us – regularly.  I believed that by doing this he would be less jealous of his baby sister and take pride in his “big brother” role.

Here are some things I like to do with D that may sound familiar, or could even spark some other ideas for you.
  1. Go on a “date.” Maybe it’s lunch at their favorite restaurant, a movie, a show, or simply grabbing coffee and hot chocolate at the local coffee shop. Whatever you do, make it “special.” To this day, when D and I go out on our “dates” we dress up. He even wore a collared shirt and tie on our last date – completely his choice.
  2. Take advantage of baby’s nap time. Babies sleep a lot when they are first born. While there’s certainly a happy medium between resting, doing household chores, and playtime, I found it important to wait until Lulu was sleeping before I started a special project with D. That way I could give him my 100% attention without being distracted by Lulu’s sweet baby noises or hunger cries. I found D loved it when he could do something that his sister couldn’t, so I would remind him that we’d have to wait to play until she was sleeping. That seemed to work for us.
  3. Play together. Don’t forget the importance of getting down on your hands and knees or going outside to kick the soccer ball around with them. D is honestly in heaven when I throw on my sneakers or snowsuit and go outside and play.
  4. Grocery shop with them. While I find it very relaxing to go grocery shopping on my own, I switch it up and often take D with me and let him “help” me shop. I get a coffee, and he gets a donut, and we take the time to catch up on things.
  5. Cook and bake with them. This is something that the baby obviously can’t help you with, but THEY can. Older siblings love to know that they are old enough to do something that their younger sibling cannot.
  6. Go solo with them to birthday parties and practices. At this point D is 4.5, and Lulu is 1.5 years old. Every Thursday is Karate. I pick up D early from school and leave Lulu at daycare for just a little while longer, so that I can share that time with just him.  
  7. Make the baby’s bedtime earlier than theirs. D loves the 30 minutes that he has with just daddy and me after his sister has gone to bed. He loves saying, “We’ll wait until Lulu goes to bed, so we don’t upset her.”
  8. Let them help with household chores. While the baby sleeps, or plays in their bouncy seat, ask for the older sibling to help you sweep, rake, shovel, or vacuum. I’m not exaggerating when I say that D can entertain himself for SEVERAL hours these days by raking leaves or sweeping the garage.
  9. Movie night, with BOTH parents. Get a sitter, or call Grandma and Grandpa and bring the older sibling to go see a movie…and splurge on popcorn and some M&M’s.
  10. Get a Pedicure or manicure. Ok, while I don’t do this with D, I will at some point be spending quality time with Lulu by taking her to the nail salon. I have, however, taken D to the hairdresser and let him hang with me while I got my haircut. He felt very special and was seriously on his best behavior, because he knew this was something I normally would never do.
  11. Draw, color, and paint. But don’t just watch – do it with them. Everything is better to a kid when you do it with them.
  12. Read an extra book at nighttime. Make bedtime even more special by reading an extra story or a longer book than usual. Let them know that because they’re older, they get a little extra quality time at bedtime.
And while spending quality time with the older child is important, it’s just as important to spend quality time together as a family. In my opinion, everything depends on the child. I know D, and I know that he’s a very emotional child, and has always been extremely attached to me. I wanted to do whatever I could to make the transition of welcoming his baby sister into the world as easy on him as I could. And you know what? I think it worked. He was always super gentle with her, took special care of her, and cherished the time we spent together when it was just the two of us.

What are some ways you spend quality time with each child?