We have obviously had a lot of change around here lately. While Brad and I knew what to expect, Charlie obviously did not and I consider everything to have impacted him the most.
He loves his little sister so much. He has ever since the first time he met her. When he is frustrated with his life being upside down or Mommy and Daddy being tired, preoccupied, boring, inattentive, he never takes it out on her or blames her. He has been nothing but sweet to her.
Sometimes this results in misguided attempts to help: Being too forceful with replacing the binky or trying to pick her up. But mostly it's just very sweet to see and all very loving.
When Charlie gets frustrated, it is Brad and me that are on the receiving end. And that's fine - it's how I want it. I wish Charlie could verbalize what bothers him, but he is not even 4 and just can't. So instead he acts out.
He misbehaves in ways he knows will get our attention: intentionally spilling things, putting on clothes he knows I won't let him out of the house in (shorts in 30 degree weather mostly), throwing toys and being very loud.
Can I tell you how guilty this makes me feel? I have to continually repeat the mantra that this is all temporary and when she gets a little older and takes regular naps, he can have time that is just for him again. Babies are such little narcissists like that! It's all about her.
I also feel guilty a lot because when you are very sleep deprived, it is extremely challenging to handle this kind of behavior the way you want to. It pushes me to my edge and makes me feel like I want to snap. I have had to apologize to Charlie a few times because I lost my cool. He always forgives me immediately. And then I go cry because wow, I didn't deserve that. Children are beautiful creatures like that.
The reason I know that this acting out behavior is just for our benefit is that it is not popping up at school. His teachers say he has been extremely well behaved this past month. They sensed some anxiousness on his part in December, but that has gone away and he has a blast at school.
He does the after school programs and stays for lunch each day. I think the routine is very comforting. I wish they had school Friday, too, as that day is always crazy around here. School has structure that we can't entirely have at home right now, though his morning and evening routines are mostly set and happen on time.
Because Brad mainly works with people in the central time zone and frequently has last minute work projects pop up in the evenings, I have a babysitter who comes to help me with the evening routine and give Charlie some play time. When I hired her, it was with the thought that Brad would be traveling by now, but it is nice to have them with him so busy and needing to stay on top of work.
Since I am usually exhausted from the night time, I use some of the time after the sitter first arrives to take a nap if Eleanor will cooperate. The sitter helps with dinner and getting Charlie fed. I usually bring the baby down and sit at the table with them. Then Charlie will have his bath, pajamas, vitamins and last tv show with the sitter's assistance.
When it's time to go upstairs, I usually have the sitter hold Eleanor for a little while. I like to be the one that helps Charlie brush his teeth and read him books and tuck him in. She's not terribly familiar with babies and is better with the older kids, but is happy to hold Eleanor for 30 minutes so I can get that much needed time with Charlie.
I have also decided that I'm going to try and take some time each Saturday to spend some one on one time with Charlie. We did this past weekend, going to the Lollipops kids concert that the Richmond Symphony puts on and had a great time. He really loved getting some undivided attention. I've started coming up with other ideas of things for us to do.
It's a 180 from Charlie going off for one on one time with Daddy each Saturday morning in London since Brad worked so late all the time that he never got much time with Charlie apart from the weekends. Brad has been great about taking Charlie off to do stuff recently, so it's really me who isn't getting enough time with him.
Charlie turns 4 in a few weeks and has been talking about his birthday pretty much since his last birthday! I'm looking forward to making a big deal out of it and really making him feel special. He loves birthdays.... and is actually already talking about his 5th birthday!
I hope by then that things will have started to settle down schedule-wise with the baby. When she is doing regular naps and willing to sleep in her crib, this is going to feel so much easier. Until then we are just hobbling through.