Monday, October 22, 2012

One-on-One Time

Today was a busy but quiet day. I was alone with three kids. I know, that's not alone, alone, but it really does make a difference when you remove one or two kids from the equation.  My husband took the younger kids with him to "his other office" a.k.a Panera Bread. 

The kids bring their schoolwork and keep busy while he gets some work done and then afterwards, they spend time together talking or whatever, and he always gets them some sort of treat.

Usually he tries to take them individually, but sometimes he takes two at a time. I give him a lot of credit for staying on top of this because this is an area that can often go neglected.  If you have two or more children, you know how difficult this could be.

We spend a lot of time with our kids but how much of it is one on one?

If you have this sinking feeling right about now because you haven't been doing this, you are not alone! This is an area that is very difficult for me to manage and so I had that sinking feeling going on as well.

For me it isn't possible to leave the house and get away with one child alone very often. So in my efforts to get better in this area, I decided to make a list of different ways that I could spend one-on-one time with each child, whether at home or out if possible.

I enlisted the help of my kids because it would be nice if they enjoyed what we're doing and being that kids change their minds on things so often, I just wanted to be sure I was on track with them.

Well, to my surprise, their list was no different than what we do as a family! It really just reminded me that kids don't need much more than our time and undivided attention.  They really are simple.  Yet we, in our efforts to try and do better, sometimes overcomplicate things. At least, I'm guilty of that.

So here are some ideas I received from my children just to give you an example. 

Play board game
Tell her a story 
Snuggle and read stories
Scrap booking
Arts and crafts
Pool time
Go shopping together
Watch a movie
Paint nails
Sit outside together
Barnes and nobles
Get an ice cream together
Go on swings together
Go to pet store (just to look)
Go to Starbucks
Sit around and talk
Play cards or build card houses
Cook together
Work on building something together
Kick the ball around

Hey, thats not a bad list! As you see, its just seeking out the moments that come along and customizing it for a particular child. As a mom, you know your child and their needs. Lean into those moments when they need a little more attention, an extra word of encouragement, or a bit of time alone to feel extra special. 

As busy as I am, I could think of a few different occasions during the week, that I have the opportunity to pick one of these activities from the list and share it in a special way with my kids one-on-one. In a large family, even just taking one of them food shopping is special!  Then they get to pick out the snacks, get the free cookie at the supermarket bakery and push the cart, which I forbid when they are all with me because they get easily distracted together and start bumping into things!

Individual time together can happen when the other kids are busy doing other things; when the baby goes down for a nap or the older kids are watching a movie. Its being aware of our children's needs and filling it as needed.  

So maybe this isn't as difficult as it seems. We're not talking carving out hours or a whole day (although if you have a chance, go for it!), its about filling their love tanks regularly and showing them that they are loved as part of this family as a whole and individually. 

How do you spend one-on-one time with your children?

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