I have three kids under the age of 10. Even without considering the dog, the house, and the two jobs I work, time is sparse! Although I spend a lot of time with my kids, finding quality, one-on-one time with my children sometimes feels impossible. The more kids you have, the more difficult this is!
Confession: my twins are 5 years old and I’m just now realizing how important it is for my twins to have individual time with me.
My twins are two individuals that feel like one unit that can’t and shouldn’t be separated. I know it sounds crazy, but unless you’ve had twins and an additional child you can’t understand the dynamics.
From the very first ultrasound picture of my twins, it was “babies” not “baby”. They shared the womb, they were happiest when sleeping in the same crib, their pacifiers were interchangeable. They want their twin beds pushed together and every day they hold hands as they walk into preschool. These two children are inseparable and it seems mean and almost torturous to separate them; not to mention the psychological guilt it has on me. How do you take your child’s best friend out on a date and leave them crying at the door until you come back (real-life experience, except it was a doctor’s appointment)???
When I had my firstborn (my one and only singleton) all of my time with her was quality one-on-one time. In fact, I made a lot of effort after the twins were born to continue to spend lots of one-on-one time with her. I felt so guilty that my daughter had our undivided attention for 4 years. Then, not only was she going to have a sibling, but she was going to have TWO at the same time. And just to add to the drama and guilt, the twins were also born on her birthday! Of course, as the kids have grown and become more active, our one-on-one time has become something of the past. Spending time with each child may be difficult when you have quite a few children and you are a busy and tired mom.
We spend so much time and effort working and making money to provide our children with a comfortable lifestyle, it is often overlooked that the best thing we can spend on our kids is our time! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are numerous benefits to a child’s development. Such as promoting social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills.
Spending time with your children individually is so very important, and when done regularly will reap many benefits for them, you, and your relationship together. Giving undivided attention to your child sends a very important message. You’re telling your child that they are important to you. That you are interested in what they have to say and enjoy being with them.
Benefits of one-on-one time
Strengthens your bond
One-on-one time gives your child your undivided attention. No waiting for their turn to talk, no interrupting or being interrupted, and they get to be the center of attention for a little while. You might even get them to share things with you they wouldn’t share with a group, even if that group is family.
Eliminate bad attention-getting behavior
Children often act out in an attempt to get attention. It is built into our children to desire admiration and love from us. Spending time alone with each child will help them to feel important and valued. Which will make there less of a need to fight for your attention.
Children who spend one-on-one time with their parents participating in activities together build a positive sense of self-worth. For parents and children, confidence grows simply with the knowledge that they are valued and appreciated.
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Allows your child to highlight their differences
This is a very important benefit, especially when talking about twins! Each child is different and this can be a time to embrace their individual differences. It will provide your child a new level of comfort with you when they are in their element. You love them individually and for who they are as a person. Spending time one-on-one time with them on a consistent basis will reinforce their place in the family.
Get to know your child better
Every family has outgoing children and more reserved children. The outgoing children are more willing to share a funny story, joke, or interaction from their day. Where the quieter sibling is silent or unable to compete with the conversation. One-on-one time might just be what your shy child needs to come out of their shell. This time will also allow your child a chance to share opinions, likes, and dislikes. All while helping build a strong foundation for communication and future conversations on the bigger topics.
One-on-one time shows your children that you are willing to take some time away from everything else and just focus on them. Providing one-on-one time doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive. Take advantage of unplanned opportunities that happen during normal life. Invite one child to help make dinner with you, or sit at the table a little longer with the one child that eats at the speed of a turtle. Take an evening walk with one of your children, or make a weekly date to read a chapter book together.
Ideas for one-on-one time at home:
- Take one child with you when you run errands
- Take walks around your neighborhood (exercise is always a great idea)
- Join them alone for one of their interests (sports, dance, library, etc.).
- Do chores together.
- Do home projects together.
- Play their favorite game.
- Say YES when one asks you to play with them.
- Play a game of Would You Rather to get to know your child better.
If you have the time and means to provide each child with a new exciting experience, do it! Every few months, I’ll go on a date with one of my kids (alternating of course). We refer to this as a Mommy Date, and I let them pick a restaurant and an activity. Of course, we have a budget so their requests must be reasonable, but I wish you could see the excitement on their faces when it’s their turn to go! It is so much fun for the kids to make all the decisions, and to be my only focus.
Recently my 9 year old (apparently 9 is in the new 13) has been expressing her opinions in less than desirable ways. We of course started with warnings, then discipline and consequences. Although this seems to make a difference, I really don’t want to spend the next 10 years yelling and screaming with a teenager. I decided to try some good old-fashioned attention, hoping to bring the attitude down to a more reasonable level. We went out on a mommy-daughter date. We went bowling, played arcade games, and then got dinner at our favorite Mexican food restaurant.
This was three months ago and my daughter is still talking about it. Honestly, her attitude level has gone down a notch or two. I know this tactic won’t always work, but I am grateful that it has worked this time! I do hope by making one-on-one time a regular thing with all my kids, I will create a relationship with them where we can just have a conversation instead of a heated debate of who has authority and who wishes they had authority.
Your children will absolutely remember the time you spent with them. Worry less about being physically present for hours and hours every day. Instead, make sure you’re mentally present when you’re with your child and make one-on-one time for each child a priority.