Take Them to Shake Shack

by Cristina | Last Updated: May 28, 2021

I can remember the day clearly.  It had been one of those longs nights, where Tristan, who was three weeks old, had barely slept. I had finally just put him down after feeding and burping him.  Dylan (16 months) came running at me full speed jumping into my arms with her usual flair.  When I scanned the room for Blake (3), there she was playing with a puzzle. Blake was being quiet and very to herself on the ground.  She wouldn’t look at me.  

It was suddenly hitting me that my daughter was upset with me.  If I’m being honest, at this point I was upset with myself.  I handled the transition from 1 to 2 a lot better than I was handling this new life with 3.  It has been 3 weeks but our family was still trying to find the way to balance our new reality. Bobby and I had gone from man to man to zone and it was kicking our ass.

I took Dylan to the couch to hang with her dad, and made my way to the floor.  It took time, but slowly I got Blake to smile, but she was still not really looking at me.  When I thought back to what had been going on that week- I realized she really hadn’t been her usual self.  Usually Blake was just like walking sunshine.  She was always smiling and questioning everything around her.  But this week she was picking on her little sister, and was yelling more and acting out at every turn.  

It occurred to me that my beautiful smart hilarious sweet little girl may feel left out.  Did she feel that since the baby came, and Dylan was still so little and needed so much help and attention, there may not be a space for her?  It was all so hard for me, I probably hadn’t helped. When I thought back, I could remember rushing her, or dismissing her when she asked for something. {being a mom is so hard}.

What could I do? I decided right there to take her out somewhere just me and her.  While I was still bleeding, had not washed my hair and looked like I could be an extra on the Walking Dead I felt like we needed to go somewhere. We decided on Lincoln Road because Shake Shack was her absolute favorite, and was the only thing that seemed to spark her interest in coming with me.

She had her hotdog, I had my shack burger and we shared our fries and shake.  Just like magic, my girl was laughing again.  Singing her little songs and holding my hand.  She just needed a little bit of her time. Where all the attention was just for her and no one else.

When we got back home, she was back to her usual self. She was asking to carry Tristan and inviting Dylan to play with her. We took note of this.  How just spending a little time with her, one on one, could have such a big quick impact.

There’s something about the one on one, that just helps you connect without the madness or distraction of the other kids or the other spouse or the dog.  It’s just the two of you.  Sometimes we, humans, just need that connection.  To feel important.  A chance to be seen or heard. 

While this child may be having a hard time adjusting to sharing his/her parents with this new baby, remember that you are also adjusting to having to split yourself into enough pieces for everyone.  This reset can go a long way for you to also remember how much you love spending time with the older brother/sister.  

If Bobby or I notice that one of the kids seems off, or not really acting like themselves, we say “time for Shake Shack.” Which just means that one of us will take that child out for an ice cream, a movie (pre pandemic) or just Shake Shack for a burger and a shake.  If we are tight on time, we even just go out for a walk or have an ice cream outside.  Just the two of us.

In these moments, when the feelings are big and you are just at the end of your rope dealing with the tantrums or unexplained attitude- take a breath (a few of them) and take that child to ice cream.  If you can’t take them to ice cream, buy some for your house and take him or her outside on the porch or balcony.  Make it just the two of you and make it the biggest deal.  

This advice is not just limited to when the baby comes.  I have found that whenever one of my kids is struggling whether it be at home or at school, if Bobby or I just take that child to a special afternoon lunch date or dinner date during the week we are able to get to connect and find an almost immediate shift in behavior.  Now that shift may not last long, but there is only good that comes from quality time.  

In this huge parenting experiment, I have found that quality one on one time, can immediately improve most situations.  If we simply take whichever kid is having a rough time or a bad attitude to grab a cheeseburger at Shake Shack or a quick ice cream cone it acts like a great reset for both of us.  

The only problem I would say is now every time there are big loud emotions, I immediately crave a shack burger.