Jatau_Adjusting to New Baby_Large

Divided Attention

Author: Z. Andrew Jatau
Published Date: Thursday, January 11, 2018

She’s here! The waiting game is over, and I am now the father of two daughters. Eliza Jatau was born on December 20, 2017. She came a few days later than expected, but the labor was smooth and the baby was healthy, which is all we could ask for. Since then, we have all been learning how to transition to being a family of four. Most days have been stressful, filled with visitors, holiday events and errand running. I’ve also had to pick up a lot of responsibilities as my wife recovers and cares for our newborn. As a second-time father, I’m used to the shift in household duties that comes along with a new baby, but things are different this time around now that I have a toddler in tow.

Though Keira is excited to finally meet her baby sister, she still has expectations of receiving the same amount of attention as before. She’s noticed a shift in the family dynamic and has started to regress a bit. When my wife is feeding Eliza, Keira will try to climb on her or cry and say, “Mommy, pick me up. I need you.” She’s also asked, “Daddy, can I lay on your chest?” which is currently Eliza’s favorite sleeping position. And recently she said, “It’s hard sharing Mommy and Daddy with Eliza.”

We’ve tried our best to help her understand that things are different, but we also know that at her age she won’t fully comprehend everything right now. The responsibility falls on us to figure out how to divide our attention and meet the physical and emotional needs of both our children.

Something that I’ve made sure to do is create space for one-on-one time. Keira and I get up around the same time in the morning (mostly due to her yelling “Daddy! Daddy!” as soon as her eyes open), so this gives us time to hang out before the rest of the family wakes up. I ask her what she wants to do and I am able to devote 100 percent of my attention to her. I’m learning to be mindful of these moments as they come up during the day. Whenever I can pull her aside and engage her in an activity, just the two of us, I do it. She was quite helpful with shoveling snow from the driveway a few days ago!

I also use the recent changes as an opportunity for Keira to grow. As parents, we should try to be as present and attentive as we can, but there are times when we’re not able to. It is important to equip our children with the ability to effectively cope with those moments. Recently we’ve started incorporating independent play into Keira’s day, during which time she entertains herself for twenty minutes in her room. She is learning that she does not always need Mom and Dad in order to feel happy and engaged, and she feels empowered to create those emotions for herself.

I know that this is just the beginning of the changes in our family dynamic, and I’m excited and anxious to see how things develop! 

Want to learn about the benefits of mindfulness and how to use breath, movement and attunement to build a strong connection with your baby? Join CHKD for a Mindful Mommy and Me six-class series beginning Tuesday, January 23. New and expectant parents are welcome. Learn more or register here.



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About Z. Andrew Jatau

I currently work as a mental health counselor at my private practice in Virginia Beach. In 2015, I founded a business called Mylemarks that focuses on creating tools for healthy social and emotional development in children. I have also authored three workbooks for the company. When I’m not working, I enjoy hanging with the family, playing or watching sports, and listening to music.