Inside: How to have regular one on one time with each child as a busy mom
“Is it my special time today?” My kindergartner asked as soon as he stepped foot in the house.
“Yours is tomorrow,” I answered, “Today is your brother’s time.”
“Okay,” He skipped out of the kitchen, “I know a game we can play tomorrow!” He added over his shoulder.
My kids love their special time with mommy
If you told me several weeks ago that I’d be making appointments with my children for a quality time with mommy, I wouldn’t have believed you. I should always be available to my kids and husband no matter what I’m doing, right?
Well, mostly yes and sometimes no. Yes, if I’m around and my kids have something to say, I listen and respond. Yes, if they ask for a hug, I put down the dishes, dry my hands, and give them a hug.
But if I’ve made an appointment with myself for a 30-minute bubble bath with a favorite book, my family members know that it’s mommy’s time and they need to respect my self care boundaries. Taking care of myself recharges me and fills me up so I can then pour into my children from a full cup, and not a half-empty one.
Several weeks ago this got me thinking. If I can make an appointment with myself and keep it, why can’t I do the same for my kids? When we keep an appointment with ourselves, it seems like there’s nothing wrong with it, but if we make and keep an appointment with our children, well, that’s unheard of!
Who puts quality time with children on their calendar? Who sets a timer when spending time with their kids? This sounds so wrong, doesn’t it? Except it’s not.
Let’s compare the time before I set appointments with my kids, and how things look after I implemented putting time with kids on my schedule.
Life Before scheduled one on one time with kids
Any time my kids wanted special time with mommy, I put down whatever I was holding, and went to spend time with my child. This was fine, the dishes can always wait, but then the other four kids wanted their special time too.
This was ok, we just took turns. But then sometimes I had to pick between spending time with my kids or cooking dinner. On the other hand, if no-one asked for one on one time with me for a while, it didn’t trigger the other kids’ memory, and before I knew it, weeks would go by without quality one on one time with my kids.
Life After scheduled one on one time with kids
With our five kids, we worked out a schedule around after school activities where each child has a claim to one weekday with me. We spend 30 minutes together, just my kiddo and me.
They choose what we do for our 30 minutes. We may simply talk about anything they want. We may play games. They may get a back rub. One of my kids is an avid reader and loves reading his favorite books to me. What we do in that 30-minute time block is up to the child in the spotlight. Everyone else knows that this is a special time and they will not disturb us unless something very important is going on.
This doesn’t mean I’m not there for the other children, it means that while I’m spending special time with one child, the other kids are learning to respect boundaries, and learning to be patient, because they know that their special time is coming.
Why it’s important to spend regular one on one time with kids
This ensures that each child regularly has uninterrupted time with their parent. And if they forget, mommy will remind them. So they never feel like they’re missing out.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t limit spending time with my kids just to these appointments. I’m always there for them, we cook together, play together, clean and do chores together. But there’s something special about this time when my child has my undivided attention, and I have his.
This builds stronger bonds between myself and each one of my children and makes them feel important. Because they know that mommy has a lot to do, but when it’s their turn for special time with mommy everything and everyone else has to wait. That’s pretty powerful and means a lot to a child.
Regularly giving individual attention to each child will get them used to opening up to you, and as they grow, they will be more likely to come to you to share their struggles and wins, or simply talk with you as a friend would.
But it’s important for you, too. You will learn so much about your child, they will open up to you more, and you will begin seeing the world through their eyes. if you open your heart to it, you can learn a lot from your children.
This is why it’s important for parents to spend regular special time with kids. Set appointments with your child and encourage daddy to do the same. Everyone will learn from one another and grow together, building a strong family bond.
You probably have about a million things on your do to list, I get it. Here’s how you can find time in your day for quality time with each of your children.