Becoming a parent changes one’s life in ways that those without children can barely comprehend. Yet, as the parent of an only child, I find myself having difficulty understanding how parents with more than one child pull it off. No matter how many kids there are, each child requires a certain amount of one on one time with their parents. Yet it can be tricky to schedule this time without the other kids feeling excluded.
Share the Responsibility
In order to make some quality one on one time happen, split the kids up. Dad takes the eldest and the youngest, while Mom and the middle child do something together. Mom and the youngest go somewhere, while the others go to Grandma’s house. It is especially helpful if the one on one activity is only age appropriate for one child. The others will be relieved not to go, rather than feel left out.
Keep it Spontaneous
Some places advise scheduling time with each child, and while this may work for the parent, it is not overly heartwarming for the kids. So make sure you take advantage of opportunities for one on one time when they arise. If you unexpectedly find out that dinner tonight will just be you and your youngest, make the most of that time. Do something to make it feel special.
Make it About Them
Don’t plan your favorite activity for just you and one of your kids. Use your one on one time to allow them to show you who they are and what they are interested in. Instead of spending the day at your favorite place, let your kid pick what you do. Giving them that control makes the time you spend just with them that much more special.
Learning to Let Go
Part of parenting, much to our chagrin, is seeing our children grow into a capable, independent people. So spending time with one child can help parents with that difficult transition. For example, some parents will put their kids in daycare on alternating days. While one spends time with Mom or Dad, the other is in daycare learning social skills and independence.
Let Them Say No
Ultimately, parents often feel as if they are not spending enough time with their kids individually, but if every so often your kid just wants to stay home and read or play video games, let them. Simply being around while simultaneously giving them space is enough. Sometimes all they need is to know that you’re there.
What are some of the ways you make time for one on one activities with your kids?