While you may sometimes refer to them as “the kids,” you are always deeply aware of exactly how many unique personalities comprise your family. Whether you’re making a separate side dish for a child with texture issues who can’t possibly stomach steamed spinach or searching for seamless socks for a child who hates the sensation, you know the wants, quirks, and needs of each one of your children.
One of those many needs is one-on-one attention. This sounds simple, but once you consider school, work, and doing your best to shower once in a while, the hours seem to dwindle faster than you can catch a minute with your kids.
This week, we’ve put together a few ideas and inspirations for carving out a little one-on-one time with your little wonder!
When you have more than one child, they have little choice but to be in the middle of each other’s lives and business pretty much all the time. Finding a way to extricate one from the pack without creating jealousy or friction can be a tricky task. No matter how you assure the others that their turn will come, kids live in the moment, and this one isn’t about them. That can be hard on little hearts. So what can parents do to single out one without causing drama? There are two ways to go about separating a single child from their built-in best friends. You can choose to make an event of it, or go the no-jealousy route. The activity you’ve planned may play into which method you choose, but it may also hinge on how territorial your children can be.
You might find it best to plan an event and tell your children about it in advance. Give them a chance to build up the excitement and anticipation, or even get dressed up and make a fancy event out of your date. This can help keep them focused on an especially hard week (think a dreaded quiz or a tense trip to the dentist) and give them a lot to look forward to! This can also give your other children time to adjust to the idea that they’ll be one kid short for an evening.
If your child’s siblings tend to be a bit jealous, it can be hard to convince them that their own date day is coming soon. In this case, your better bet is a bit of misdirection. Plan an activity or a movie all of your children enjoy, then sit down together and get started. Once everyone is engrossed in the activity, ask your target to step aside for a minute. This is your chance! Covert connection time is engaged.
QUALITY & QUALITY
Your children deserve as much quality time as they can get, but every now and then, just some time is exactly what’s needed. When there isn’t enough energy to throw a party for two, remember that all they really need is you! Plan a self-care activity for two, like getting a pedicure, grabbing a smoothie and having your hair done, or going clothes shopping with just one child. This will give them more space to explore what will become their personal style without distractions. Discussing personal style opens up a world of conversations your child may be looking for an opening to start with you.
Even if you’re just cuddling up under the same blanket for a movie, physical contact in a low-stress situation may be exactly the interaction you both needed! Any movie they like, no phones allowed, and a bowl of popcorn might be all your child needs to feel seen, heard, and snuggled.
It won’t always be possible to carve out time to take your child on a weekend fishing trip, out to a fancy restaurant, or even to squeeze in an hour for one-on-one board games. Even when time is tight, you can still make space for one-on-one, face to face.
Try including your child in some of the tasks that keep you too occupied for game night. Cook dinner together and talk about your day. Let little ones help you load the dryer, pull weeds, and rinse dishes. Every minute you spend together has the potential to be quality time!
When you can’t physically be with your child, let them know you’re thinking of them with handwritten notes left on their favorite cereal boxes, written on their mirror in dry erase marker, or send your older kid a Venmo in an amount that will buy coffee shop drinks for two, with the promise of a coffee date after school.
Connection was easier when they needed you for food, clothing, and comfort, but it’s even more important as they get older — when they don’t need you, but want you, and aren’t sure how to ask. You’ll never stop being there, and we hope they make it a point to remind you how thankful they are to know that!