How To Find One-on-One Time with Your Kids
There are certain parental things you know you should be doing for your kids… like feeding them, clothing them and oh yeah, spending time with them. And not just any kind of time. One-on-one time.
I can completely see the benefits of spending time with kids individually. It makes them feel important. You get to really know them. They get to know you. It brings you closer together. So I’m completely in love with this idea but I just can’t figure out how to make it happen.
I’ve often heard the suggestion that you should plan individual dates with each child on a regular basis. Which sounds totally doable if you have two kids. But I have five (ages 2, 5, 5, 9, 11) and the idea of squeezing in regular outings with each of my children sounds overwhelming and implausible.
Plus, my 2 year old is a high energy toddler who seems to gobble up everyone else’s time. And no one (except my toddler) has their own room so there isn’t even alone time during goodnight hugs and kisses.
So for awhile I just carried around a lot of guilt that I wasn’t giving my children what they needed in the one-on-one department.
But then I read something that gave me new hope. Dr. Harley Rotbart (a pediatrician and author) was quoted in the New York Times, “I tell parents they should never do a chore alone. It may not speed up the task, but involving a child in doing the laundry or a basement clean-up is another chance to spend time together.”
I have lots of chores! And I have lots of children! I could make this work.
So I committed to taking a child along with me every time I went to the grocery store. My kids are not thrilled with this special alone time and are prone to groaning with misery when their turn pops up. But after the initial whining, it all goes pretty well.
I really like having time to chill out with just one kid at a time. It feels special and we can talk and joke around while searching the aisles for everything we need. And I plan to do it whenever it’s possible. (Sometimes, due to logistics, I’m forced to take all five kids to the grocery store and I don’t recommend this at all. It’s very headache-inducing and I spend millions of dollars and come home mostly with just chips and ice cream.)
I also try to take my kids to the doctor or dentist alone (whenever possible). This gives us time together in the car. Of course, maybe my kid is usually quiet or tired that day and not up for talking. But at least we are there together and listening to music. I’ll take what I can get.
And I recently read about another idea for finding that individual time with each kid. It involves letting each child stay up 20 to 30 extra minutes on their “birthdate” each month. For example, my oldest daughter was born on September 14th. So the 14th of every month is her special night. She gets to pick what we do for those 20 to 30 minutes. And afterward, I would tuck her in, snuggle with her and tell her a few things I love about her.
If other siblings get jealous, you can let them stay up and read quietly while you’re having your special night. I really love this idea because it’s something on the schedule and it’s not unrealistically time intensive. I’m going to try it out for the next couple months and see how it goes.
And, this effort isn’t just for my kids. As Dr. Harley Rotbart says, “Don’t think of one on one time as just something your children need. You need it, too.”
I do need it. Because in the swirl of a hectic household, I often feel like I’m not really seeing my children. And I want to see them. I want to focus on them. I want to know them. So really, this is for all of us.
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