As one of four children growing up, it wasn’t always the easiest for my parents to spend one-on-one time with each of us. Whether they were aware of it or not, I do think that my parents did try. It was my mom reading with my brother each night. My mom taking my sister out to the movies while my dad took me and my brothers to a sporting event. My dad and I running errands together. And, we also each got to go in the tractor trailer with our dad when he had to pick-up or drop-off produce or whatever he was hauling — as I kid, this was the best thing ever riding in a big truck.
Simply put, there were plenty of times for each of us to spend quality one-on-one time with each parent. Even as a adult, I still cherish these one-on-one times, like when my mom comes down to help me out. It gives us a chance to catch-up and just talk about whatever’s on our minds. I actually feel that because of this, my mom and I have become the closest we’ve ever been.
Of course, it’s not always easy to make one-on-one time with each of your kids. We already have a packed schedule between work and all of the responsibilities that come with being a mom. But, it’s important for you to make the time.
The Value of Spending One-on-One Time Your Children
- It strengthens the bond between and your child. Spending alone time with each of your children means that you have their undivided attention. As a result, small intimacies like rituals and nicknames are developed. And, most importantly, this leads to a strong bond with your children where they trust you enough to communicate their thoughts and feelings. They may even tell you something that they would never discuss in front of the entire family.
- It lets them know that they’re valued. When you spend one-on-one time with your children, it makes them feel loved, valued, and important. This is because since it’s just the two of you they don’t have to compete with their siblings for your attention. It also shows them that you took the time to spend just with them because you love them.
- It reduces attention-grabbing behavior. When you’re kids aren’t getting enough of your attention they’re more likely to act-out. If not addressed, this could lead to behavioral problems and an emotional distance between you and your child. Again, spending alone time with them prevents competing for your attention. It also gives you an opportunity to notice, or discuss, anything that’s bothering them so that it can be addressed sooner than later.
- It shows that there isn’t a favorite. If you have siblings, I’m sure you know all about favorites. And, you’re children are the same! One-on-one time can at least reduce these complaints about favoritism.
- It can help build self-esteem and self-worth. Because they feel loved, valued, and important because of alone time, your children can develop self-esteem and self-worth. This is especially important if you have a child who is quiet or shy since one-on-one time can help them get out of their shell.
- It helps you learn what makes your child unique. As you know, each of your children have different personalities, talents, interests, and ways to be motivated. Spending time alone with them helps you to get to really know your child. This makes them feel more understood. It also helps you look for common interests and even ways to help motivate them on anything from homework to household chores.
- It models good behavior. Finally, children mirror their behavior after the people they spend time with. Spending alone time with your kids gives you a chance to pass down your good behaviors, morals, and ethics to them.
Tips on How You Can Spend One-on-One Time With Each Child
While spending one-on-one with each child is important, it can be tough. However, here are some practical ideas on how you can actually carve out the time to spend individually with each of your children.
- Include them in your in daily tasks. Whether if it’s cleaning the house, cooking dinner, or running errands, invite one of your children to join you. You’re already doing these chores, so why not kill two birds with one stone? Just make sure to trade-off on these recurring events. For example, if your son want to the store with you last week, then this week bring your daughter. This also gives them a chance to spend alone time with your partner.
- Do homework or read a book together. Like household chores, these are things that your child probably has to to do daily. It’s also an opportunity to spend alone time with them. It also gives them a chance to teach you something new!
- Set a regular date night. The frequency will depend on your family, but in you calendar block out specific times when you and your child will be doing something special together. It could be once a month or during special times of the year. For example, my son and I have a Mother’s Day tradition where we walk on the boardwalk and eat crepes.
- Get active. Go for a walk, bike ride, or play their favorite sport after dinner.
- Surprise them. Who doesn’t love surprises? If one of your children has been asking to see a new movie, go to a new park, or see their favorite sports team then surprise them by taking them out-of-the-blue.
- Have a bedtime routine. I spend a couple minutes with each child when they go to bed. We may read a book together or simply just have a quick chat about how their day went. It may not seem like much, but doing this nightly definitely adds-up!
- Use timers. If time is a serious concern, then start using a timer. Set it for 10 minutes and ask your child what they want to do during that time. Again, it may not seem like much, but that time does accumulate.
- Bend the rules occasionally. You don’t want this to become too common, but it’s alright to occasionally relax the rules a bit. Let’s say that you have two children. When the younger child goes to bed because they’re exhausted, your oldest could stay-up a little later with you.
- Put down the phone. We’re glued to our phones. But, is that fair when your child is talking to you? Give them your undivided attention during alone time by either silencing or turning-off your phone. If you’re still tempted to check your phone, leave it in another room.
How do you find time to spend one-on-one time with each child?