When you have one child, individual time with each parent is a given. Once you have more kids than you have hands, things can get a little, okay- A LOT – tricky. However, this special one-on-one time is so important, for both the parents and the child.
Before you had additional kids, did you wonder how you could possibly love another human as much as your first born? By taking time for your second, third, fourth children you will clearly see how your love for each child is just as strong and as equally unique as each child. Taking time to nurture a special relationship between you and your child will bring you closer and establish a solid foundation upon which to grow.
It Strengthens Individual Bonds.
Carving out special times and making memories will strengthen your relationship. On a recent trip to Chicago my daughter and I took a shortcut through the American Girl Store. She is only 20 months old and doesn’t have many dolls, but the second we walked in I got to see her skip and hop for the first time. She was literally beaming like a kid in a candy store as she ran around pointing at every single doll and stuffed animal. Always a Daddy’s girl, I was not-so-secretly thrilled when we walked out of the store and Daddy went to pick her up and she shook her head and ran to me 🙂 (And no, I did not buy her affection- we left empty handed in case you were wondering!)
It Boosts Self-Esteem and Confidence.
Have you noticed how your child lights up when you pay them special attention? Every positive affirmation helps them to become more confident in their abilities. Simply sitting down with a child to read a book validates them as individuals and shows them that you want to be with them. Without others around they feel safer expressing their feelings, sharing thoughts and ideas, or trying out new skills.
You Get to know One Another Better.
My days are generally chaos. A happy chaos, but still chaos. Some hours go by in a complete blur where my only goal is to make sure no one gets hurt. However, it is in those one-on-one moments that I truly get to know my children. C isn’t being overshadowed by his big brother and starts practicing his words and shows off his silly personality. T gets to snuggle all she wants without having to share my lap with her brothers. J gets to do all kinds of “big boy” stuff and thrives on the attention he grew accustomed to in his first years of life.
You Take Time Out from the Crazy.
Since we have three kids, individual time usually comes when one parent takes one kid and the other has two. And honestly? It’s a nice break for all of us! Once you are out numbered, having two kids is just so much easier than three! Don’t get me wrong- I remember thinking having just one was hard. Whatever your situation, changing up the routine is a nice break.
They OPen Up MOre.
Think about how much closer you feel to someone when you spend time with them. On a one-on-one basis, people are much more likely to open up and you get to know each other so much better. Kids are the same. When we have time to just hang out, J talks more and I get a better glimpse into what is on his mind. Quieter kids come out of their shells. There is going to come a time when each child needs each parent for different reasons. It is essential to establish this rapport and comfort level early on.
It Shows them they are Unique Individuals in the sea of siblings.
While the gift of siblings is one of the greatest things you can give your child, it is still important for them to have solid relationships with their parents. We strive to have alone time with each child at some point every day. Perhaps we are more sensitive to this because we have twins, but we want each of our children to know that we value them as individuals. Each day, even if it is just for a few minutes to read a book, play a game, play on the swingset, etc, we take time for each child.
It Allows them to Do Things They Can’t Always Do.
C is a very adventurous and impulsive toddler. I can’t trust that he won’t jump off the highest playground equipment or try to jump in and swim with the ducks. Unfortunately for him, that often means I have to strap him in his stroller, hold his hand tighter than he’d like, or constantly yell “no” when he tries to explore his limits. Unlike his older brother who I could shadow at all times, I have to hold him back more. So when we get one-on-one time, we run to the park where he is free to run and climb to his heart’s content. Our 4-year old gets to do “big kid” things that we can’t do with his younger siblings- go bowling, swimming, kayaking, etc.
Here are some simple ideas to spend individual time with your kids. The key is to preface it as “mommy/daddy-daughter/son date time” and no matter what it is, it is special:
Learn Together: Read, color, build, write, attend storytimes and music classes, visit museums, do puzzles, play games, paint pottery.
Eat Together: Have a picnic, plant a garden, bake cookies, plan and cook dinner, make pancakes, share a special treat, go out for ice-cream.
Work Together: Run errands (they love it!), have a cleaning race, do crafts, do a service project.
Play Together: Mini-golf, bowling, swimming, building snowmen or sandcastles, ice-skate, ride bikes, play catch, practice a sport, go to the park, participate in a race.
The best advice is to ask them what they want to do! You may be surprised that all they really want is to be with you!
Don’t forget to make time for your hubby too!
What are some of your favorite kid date suggestions?