How to Practice Attachment Parenting with Multiple Children
Let me be the first to admit: Attachment parenting multiple children gets a little tricky sometimes.
When my oldest was born and I discovered attachment parenting I gave it my all. I became a by-the-book attachment parenting mom, but it took every second of my time and all of my effort. (You can read about my attachment parenting regrets, results, and lessons.)
I quickly burned out from the pressure of dividing my time between two children after my second son was born .
Once another mom (of two) told me (with a wink), after the birth of my second child, that I was officially a parent now. She said having one child was easy but having to juggle the needs of more than one child required real work.
If I thought having two kids made for difficult work I had no idea what I was in for when I had my third child in 4.5 years, my husband began working 80 hours a week, and I decided to finish my degree and then attend grad school. (Aren’t we all a little invincible in our 20s?)
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.
While I’m happily on the other side of those difficult years, I haven’t forgotten the emotional and physical work they required or the steps I took to get through those years with my sanity intact.
I was committed to attachment parenting and that meant casting off the chains of perfectionism and getting real about my status as one mom with three kiddos.
Read on for five practical things I did to successfully attachment parent multiple children.
Having More Than One Child Makes Attachment Parenting 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 kids 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. In fact, I learned quickly that attachment parenting is hard. But, ultimately attachment parenting was worth it.
Nothing makes the early years of parenting easy. Parenting pressures lessen a bit with a heap of patience and tons of support and help when you can get them.
Now that my boys are teens my days of parenting triage are long over. However, I’m not far enough removed from the days of “we all need you RIGHT NOW!” to have forgotten what it’s like.
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 the truth is that sometimes the baby has to wait for a minute while you attend to your toddler or preschooler.
You don’t lose attachment parenting points (as if there were such a thing!) if your crying baby is safe in a crib, swing, or sling while you take care of his siblings. It just happens sometimes. You’ll calm your baby the second you can. This is not true crying-it-out.
You can read my answer to the question ‘is crying it out ever okay?’
Be a Proactive Parent
Practicing what is known as “Get Off of Your Butt Parenting” (GOYBP) is more difficult when you have multiple children.
For example, if you’re 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 toddlers enter a seemingly permanent meltdown mode. This usually happens they’re sick or when they haven’t had enough sleep.
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 blissfully snuggling cranky kiddos. I’d spend less time worried about the dirty dishes in the sink while I snuggled with my kids. In hindsight those incomplete household chores simply didn’t matter.
By the way, here’s why everything is a struggle with kids.
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. Your baby will survive the two minutes it takes to give her older sibling a snack.
Turning off the stove or oven, removing cooked 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 at 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 are blessed to have a mother who considers their needs and wants so thoroughly!
Remember to Stay Calm and Focus on Relationship
One of the best things about attachment parenting is the trusting relationship 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 – whether immediately or eventually – is what helps your child to grow up confident and secure.
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