I love chatting with friends, other moms and women in all walks of life, about all things. So when a topic seems to pop up in many conversations, over and over, in a short amount of time, I take notice and I try to listen extra hard.
Today’s topic and title stems from one of those conversations that kept popping up: one on one time with kids.
I don’t often write about parenting, mainly because I’m still figuring it out myself, but this happens to be a topic near and dear to my heart and one that I struggled with with my own girls. One that I continue to find myself learning and adapting as they grow older and our schedules evolve.
My girls are three years apart. My youngest was a decent napper when she was an infant, I was fortunate to spend her morning nap time with my oldest, getting that much needed one on one time. They both took an afternoon nap at the same time leaving time for me to do chores around the house or grab a few minutes of rest myself. It was a magical time, a very short, but magical time.
Fast forward a year or so and at some point, I can’t tell you at what age, my youngest gave up her morning nap, and my oldest daughter and I lost our built in one on one time.
I missed it. And she missed it. Luckily, I figured out a way to get our time back without
giving up her nap or my much needed alone time. I put my youngest down nap about 15 minutes early. Then I used that 15 minutes for our time together. It wasn’t the hour or longer that we had before but it worked.
A few years later I found myself having to rearrange again as my oldest went to Kindergarten, leaving plenty of one on one time for my toddler and myself but little when my oldest arrived home from school. I managed to find a solution that worked there too.
This ebb and flow, change and rearrange has happened many times. With moves, new schedules, and activities. From it, I have learned four important tips for finding and keeping one on one time with kids, no matter their age, or position in the family.
- Fit it in when you can. 15 minutes before nap time, before bedtime, after school. Right now my one on one time is at bedtime with one daughter and in the car driving to practice with another. I fit it in when I can and that is okay. Don’t be fooled that more time makes it more meaningful. Quality over quantity is always better.
- Use it for fun. Do something enjoyable. Read, bake, play a board game, just talk. But make sure it is fun for the both of you. My girls love to tell jokes, so sometimes in the car we exchange silly jokes or tell silly stories. It doesn’t always have to be deep and meaningful. It can be light and fun. You’ll both enjoy it more that way than if you’re using your time together to fold socks.
- Be consistent. I found out the hard way that just because they are little (or bigger) does not mean that they won’t remember. My oldest would ask almost immediately after waking up in the morning, what are we going to do today at our special time? They will crave and look forward to this time so keep it consistent. My youngest looks forward to our time together each night, many nights counting down until bedtime. What I’m saying is, don’t start something you can’t keep up. Keeping tip one in mind, if every night is too much to commit to, do it every tuesday and thursday or just the weekends. Remember, quality over quantity.
- Don’t beat yourself up if it’s not just as you pictured it or as it once was. There will be time for mommy-and-me- dates and afternoon movies but for now do what you can. Adapt as they grow, schedules will change as they get older, so will your time with them. Again, that is okay, the important thing is that you keep that time together.