Advice on how to handle this...?

(6 Posts)
CoffeeChocolateWine Thu 07-Mar-13 19:43:55

I'd like a bit of advice from MNers on how to handle this...

I have two DC - DS who is almost 4.5yo and DD who is almost 8 months. After a pretty difficult start to life with two, I've finally felt in the past couple of months that things are going well. I feel in control (most of the time!), they adore each other, DS loves playing with DD and making her giggle, DD loves it and squeals with delight, and I genuinely feel like I'm enjoying the time I have with both of them now (I really REALLY didn't in the first 6 months!).

The slightly bigger age gap between them means that jealousy hasn't really been an issue.The only thing that I'm finding tricky at the moment is the evenings. They eat together at around 5pm and bath time is at 6pm. DD has a bath every night as I really feel it's an important part of her bedtime routine, but DS often doesn't want a bath. This is fine as he sometimes has a shower with DH or me in the morning and so long as he has a bath or shower every other day I'm happy.

But it means that I leave him by himself playing or watching TV downstairs while I'm bathing her, then once bath time is over for DD I take her back upstairs again for milk and bed by 7pm. It means I leave DS by himself for at least 45mins, sometimes an hour (DH is very rarely home before DD goes to bed so I'm doing it by myself). By the time I come down again I have a very grumpy DS who then has a go at me or turns on the waterworks because I'm not looking after him, he doesn't like being left by himself and he needs someone to play with him.

I know it's not completely genuine and mostly attention seeking, and I don't usually stand for much silly behaviour, but I can't help but feel really defensive (and I think he knows it!) when he accuses me of not looking after him as I am trying so so hard!

I'm not after suggestions of a better way of doing things in the evening as I really think DD goes down very easily and quickly this way and that's important to me, but I'd like to know how I should respond to DS when he says this? I feel like he's trying to intimidate me which I usually have no tolerance for, I don't want to do on the defensive as he'll latch on to that and keep doing it, but I also want to tread sensitively as he's probably still adjusting to not being an only child any more. So what how to I handle it and what do I say?? Any suggestions?

MrsJamin Thu 07-Mar-13 20:27:48

Is there something your DS could do upstairs so he doesn't feel so far away - could you read with him in the bathroom, if there's enough room for that?

Bumpsadaisie Thu 07-Mar-13 20:42:50

Its really difficult and I sympathise, but I do think that's too long to leave him, esp. at that time of night when they are grumpy anyway.

My two have always had a bath together from about week 3 - I get DS (16 mths) out first while DD (3.9 yrs) splashes around a bit more. Then when DS is ready I tell DD to get out and supervise her drying and getting pyjamas on. Then she goes up to bed and reads for 15 mins while I go downstairs with DS, get his bottle, come back up, have quick story and pop him in bed (luckily he is always happy to go off to sleep). Then I go up and do story with DD.

As you say it could well be part of the sibling rivalry/adjustment issue starting to rear its head - in my experience (sorry!) this gets worse once the second child is crawling and much more of an entity than a newborn. I know we had no sibling problems at all in the first few months, but as DS got bigger, and started to impose himself on the scene a bit more, it was harder for DD. Especially when the younger one can crawl/walk and trash the older ones toys. DS is 16 months now and going through a phase of wanting every toy DD has and also of hitting her (and everyone else!) in the face! And he was such as sweet placid little baby ... smile

Could you get your DS to join in bathtime? Even if he doesn't want to go in, could he read or watch TV on your phone in the bathroom?

mummy2benji Thu 07-Mar-13 23:55:35

My ds is 4 and dd is 4 months, and while he would happily tolerate 20 mins or so of the two of us being upstairs, I think he'd kick off if it was more than that. And at that time of evening it is when they are most tired and fractious. Ds can be happily occupied with some cbeebies or a dvd or numberjacks on the computer for a time, but beyond a certain time he feels I am fobbing him off. If I were you I would either try to encourage him to bath more regularly with her in the evening, or if he doesn't want to, then to help you bath her or at least bring some toys upstairs and play on the landing near you both. And do you have to give her her milk upstairs? Or if you feel that is important to her routine, can he come up with you?

I am in a very similar situation in that ds is rarely home before bedtime so I have to manage the two of them together. Dd has milk around 6pm, we feed in the living room usually in front of the bedtime hour on cbeebies with ds, I finish winding her and pop her in her chair while I make milk for ds (he had severe feeding difficulties as a baby so he still has a bottle of formula at night), then I read him a bedtime story - if she cries in her chair I try to settle her but will let her cry for a few mins if need be so that I don't spoil ds's bedtime.

anonymosity Fri 08-Mar-13 05:58:45

I am wondering if you can give him something to do which makes him feel a part of the process, responsible, like a big-boy so he doesn't actually feel left out - which he is at the moment. I don't think its a matter of keeping him alone and finding a way to manage his disappointment and upset, I think it maybe should be a case of finding a way to fix the problem, as he perceives it, compromising in some way. I'm sure that others will be more helpful than me.

CoffeeChocolateWine Fri 08-Mar-13 10:11:24

Thank you all. I can see now that as anonymosity points out, it's not his upset I need to manage, it is the way I do things in the evenings. The thing is that during the week the TV only goes on after dinner so DS is always so excited about watching TV that I convince myself that he's "happy" to watch TV for the time I'm dealing with DD...but maybe he's not happy for such a long time.

I'll try and get them to bath together. I did when DD was tiny but I stopped because DS, while only being playful, would often end up being too rough with her and I would end up getting stressed. There was one ocassion when with no warning he grabbed her the ankles and out of my grasp and went under water. I was horrified, so when he started losing interest in bath time and more interest in morning showers I kind of jumped at it! But I think now she's a bit older and can sit up by herself and enjoys a good splash maybe it would work better to get him back in bed time baths.

Re having her milk upstairs, I do feel this is important for her. She finds it very difficult to switch off in the evenings and doing milk downstairs when DS is bounding around would not help. It has to be upstairs in a dim, quiet room. That part of the routine only takes 20mins or so which is when DS can watch his TV and have his milk.

I think that would work better. Thanks.

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