{GUEST POST} How to Be an Attachment Aunt

My baby sister and I last lived together when she was 12 and I was 18. That all changed this summer when she was home from college and Dominic, Jemma, and I moved into my parent’s home during our house building adventure. Hannah climbed the stairs for my tired pregnant self countless times and acted as Jemma’s summer au pair on more days than I can count! Basically, every pregnant mama needs an Aunt Hannah around! 
In the midst of starting classes for her senior year of college, Hannah whipped up this AWESOME guest post all about how she (and I) see her as the ultimate attachment aunt. There is no doubt in my mind attachment parenting reaches far beyond actual parents. The title can be claimed by any caretaker who cares to go the extra mile, and Hannah has earned that title a million times over.
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My name is Hannah, aka Auntie Hannie. I am That Mama Gretchen’s youngest sister who loves to do everything and anything with my niece and new little nephew! Whether it be cooking, getting the mail, or putting them down for naps, I can never get over the precious lives of these two little children.

Gretchen has always been the creative sister in our clan, after all, she is the one who coined the term “attachment aunt” and named me the #1 example :) So, I’m here today to give you all a glimpse into the world of “attachment auntie-hood”. Here’s my five tips to survive and enjoy your sibling’s children!

Set aside a place in your space that is child friendly

The cupboard full of treasures

This can be one of the easiest and most helpful things to do for both child and mama. Jemma has chosen a cupboard in my room. It is just her size which allows for crawling into and hiding her little treasure. This is awesome because whether she just wanders into my room or I am giving Gretchen a break, she knows right where to go. And believe me … she keeps herself busy for quite a while in that little area. Her having a place in my room to call her own definitely encourages her to be independent while still being around one of her peeps. Whenever I am needing to clean my room, put away laundry, or pack for going back to college we can still have lots of fun while I am getting done what I need to.

Supporting the Mama and Daddy’s parenting plan

Visiting all the “MOOOOOS” at the county fair

This is VERY important … and definitely makes you a BIG helper to Mama and Daddy. This is not hard and really shows up in the little things you do. Whether it supporting and wanting to learn how to properly use cloth diapers or being able to say no to TV time, these efforts make a big difference. Also, being involved with teaching Jemma signs and new words. Some signs/words we practice are more practical like “help” so she doesn’t get mad when doing a puzzle, and other words are just too stinking cute like “moo”. Knowing mama and baby’s routine is key and allows you to step in as a second mama when needed. In our family’s case this has lead to Jemma calling all of the women in our house “mama” from time to time.

Being aware of the child’s diet

Sharing a snack – true auntie/niece bonding :)

 Okay, so this probably goes along with the previous tip, but it is uber important because the day can change happy to sad before you know it! Thankfully Jemma does not have any allergies or major sensitivities, but for a little girl like her it doesn’t take much to … lets just say … clog her up. Making sure she is not eating too much cheese, potato, and noodles are things to watch for when making something for her for lunch. Adding in some berries, yogurt, applesauce, and pretty much any kind of dip will make her happy.

Often, we are all surprised at the things she will try and just love! Letting her try out new flavors is good for her and super funny to see which face she will have once she tastes it. She gets pretty obsessed when she likes something new and pretty much demands it by asking so sweetly “more” over and over.

Food sharing is also a part of this. Jemma knows that when each person in the house gets out of bed they are headed to the kitchen to get something yummy for breakfast. And believe me she will drop whatever she is doing to have her second, third, or fourth breakfast with you. This goes the other way too because if you don’t want Jemma to come over and ask for a bite of whatever you are eating you better lock your self somewhere she can’t see you! Somehow she can sense when you are taking bites of cookies, candy bars, brownie, or chocolate cobbler! This becomes bad news because she know if you are eating it, it must be good! And really, how are you suppose to not give that sweet girl a bite of your treat!

Include them in things you want to do

Living the day together

When you include the kids in things you naturally have going on in your day those same things will become activities they really enjoy. Most of our summer days went a little like this: After Jemma and I would eat breakfast together, she would come hang out with me in my room or in the bathroom so that I could get ready. We would put on some music and have lots of laughs during our dance parties together. Some days we would go for a jog around the neighborhood loop after she so skillfully climbed into her stroller all by herself. Then we might come back and play with, chase, and pet my dog, Riley, whom she knows and loves very much! We move upstairs to put away my laundry or clean up the mess that somehow exploded in my closet (this didn’t really happen every day). In my room, Jemmie knows right where to go … her cupboard! Or, in some cases playing fort in a pile of clothes while snacking on a granola bar. After eating some lunch together we’d usually take a walk to get the mail. Fun activities (yes, getting mail is fun for little girls) is always a good way to keep her mind off of wanting to watch Caillou nonstop.

Now yes, these things may take a bit longer to do with an almost two year old tagging along, but let me tell you, she is such a sweetie pie, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Baby-wearing and co-sleeping

Check out this babywearing auntie!

Ever since Jemma was born Gretchen has found cute and convenient ways to babywear and I learned how to strap on those gadgets too! Whether it be while I am cooking or all of us girls are walking around the mall, Jemma is right there close to us :)

Putting her down for her afternoon naps is also a great time to give Gretchen a break.  Nothing compares to having a little life trust you so completely that they will snuggle up next to you and fall asleep. Jemma and I have even had a full overnighter! Gretchen and Dominic were out of town on June 1st which happened to be the night before my 20th birthday and Jemma’s 20 month birthday. Jemma slept with me that night and although I might not have slept the best, it was priceless!

So, there it is … five things you can do to be an Attachment Auntie! It is a joy to see these little ones grow and learn and of course, those goodbye kisses that come straight from their little hearts make it all the better.

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh I loved this post. What a great aunty you are hannie! My sister likes to give my little girl many lollies and psyches her up before bedtime. :( I love how thoughtful you are about it all. I'm sure you'll make a great mama one day too.

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