Attachment Parenting More Than One Child

Attachment Parenting more than one child gets a little tricky sometimes.  I once had another mom (of two) tell me (with a wink), after the birth of my second child, that I was officially a parent now.  That having one child was easy, but having to juggle the needs of more than one child was where the real work started.  (My oldest child missed the memo that stated having one child was supposed to be easy!)

I’d like to tell her that the real work actually begins when you have your third child in 4.5 years, your husband begins working 80 hours per week, and you decide to finish your degree and then attend grad school.  

 The truth is that all parents of more than one child, especially those who, like me, have children who are less than 4-5 years apart in age, will have to perform “parenting triage” at some point. 
 

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Having More Than One Child Makes Attachment Parenting a More Challenging

I remember thinking at times when my oldest was two and I had a newborn, “Is someone playing a practical joke on me?  Why does everything always happen at once with these two?” By the time I had three, it was simply the standard way of life.
 
Managing siblings is difficult no matter your parenting philosophy.  Attachment parenting doesn’t make juggling the needs of little ones easy.  Nothing makes those days easy except a heap of patience and tons of support and help!

Now that my guys are 15, 13 and 11, my days of parenting triage are long over.  Most difficulties come singularly or my children are old enough to understand which need (or want) truly requires my attention first.

However, I’m not far enough removed from the days of “we all need you RIGHT NOW!” to have forgotten what it’s like.  Here are some tips and reminders for getting through those years. 

Sometimes Babies Cry and That’s Okay

Sometimes babies cry and that’s okay.  I am not endorsing the cry-it-out method of sleep training (or any sleep training at all, but that’s another post), but the truth is that sometimes the baby has to wait for a minute while you attend to a toddler or preschooler.  

Read more about my views on leaving a baby to cry.

Be a Proactive Parent

Practicing what is known as “Get Off of Your Butt Parenting” (GOYBP) is sometimes made quite difficult by having more than one child.  If you are still nursing a baby, having to get up quickly to discipline or help another child can be frustrating.  This is a situation where being proactive is so important.  Being a proactive parent means that you set things up ahead of time so that needs are met before they even become needs.  

Read my article about how to keep your toddler busy while you’re nursing or taking care of your baby.

Toddlers Cry Sometimes and That’s Okay!

Toddlers cry sometimes.  Toddlers cry more than babies sometimes.  And that’s okay.  

Sometimes, when they are getting sick or are overly tired, toddlers get stuck in permanent meltdown mode.  The best thing to do on those days is to forget about the housework, order takeout for dinner and love on your babies.  

If I could go back in time, I’d spend more time snuggling cranky kiddos and less time fretting over what wasn’t getting done while I was struggling to figure out why one or more of them was inconsolable.

Parenting Means Constantly Performing Triage

Blood, bruises, and injuries, in general, take precedence over a baby with a wet diaper. 

A baby with a wet diaper takes precedence over a toddler who needs a snack RIGHT NOW. 

A toddler who needs a quick snack prepared takes precedence over a baby who needs to nurse and will nurse for longer than it takes to fix the snack and for the snack to be eaten. 

Turning off the stove or oven, removing cooking food from the heat or quickly stirring a dish takes precedence over a nursing baby, a wet diaper or a hungry toddler. (Cooking is another area where proactivity and understanding your limitations will prevent you from being forced to triage.) 

You’re the parent and you have the instincts to decide who needs you the most in any given moment.  Once you’re outnumbered you cannot provide the same standard of constant care and attention that you could when you only had one child.  

But, in the end, you are absolutely enough, you have enough love to go around and your children will be fine!

Remember to Stay Calm and Focus on Relationship

One of the best things about attachment parenting is the trusting relationship that it fosters between parent and child.  Your children trust you because you go the extra mile to meet their needs and provide a secure bond with them.

Yes, having siblings requires a child to share the resources that his or her parents provide, but the fact that you consistently meet your children’s needs – even it’s not immediate – is what helps your child to grow up confident and secure.