In June, before my baby arrived, and her due date had passed, and I needed to walk my dog around town, my mom decided she would come visit me each day while my husband was at work to make sure that the baby and I were safe. She spent two weeks Monday through Friday driving three hours round trip to see me – until the baby was finally born. I had already finished preparing for my maternity leave, so I didn’t have much work to do. So Mom and I spent the days walking Lily, eating lunch together, going to the grocery store, and just sitting in the living room chatting. She even walked me to my yoga classes and met me outside the studio when it was finished so that I was never alone – just in case.
I’m an adult and I still appreciate alone time with my parents. This special one-on-one time with my mom still made me feel special, loved, and protected. If it’s so meaningful to a grown adult, imagine how it would make an actual child feel.
Parents want to make their kids feel special. But in the daily rush, finding the time to do that can be an impossible task.
And it probably is impossible to make each of your kids feel special every day because a lot of the time, parents are in survival mode. Getting everyone to their own activities, dinner on the table, ensuring homework is complete and that everyone gets to bed at some point seems like a pretty great way to show how much you care about your kids. But of course, kids need more.
One way to give them a bit more is to schedule some one-on-one time. Sure you can’t give it to them every day. That’s okay. It’s still special, memorable, and effective as long as you find time to do it sometime.
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I am one of five kids. So life was pretty hectic at my house. It’s hard to get attention when there are so many other kids vying for your parents’ attention. So that made my alone time with my parents that much more special. So what did my parents do?
My dad played catch with me while I practiced to make the lacrosse team. We also went running together in the park.
My mom took me to get frappuccinos when she picked me up from exams in middle and high school.
My dad took me to North Dakota, which was a super weird trip (the state was cool – the trip was weird). The Red River Valley was just mud and we went to a super strange art gallery and wound up interrupting a bingo event in the middle of the day as we tried to find lunch.
These are some of my strongest memories from growing up – that is how meaningful one-on-one time with your parents can be. And things like catch and getting frappuccinos only takes 30 minutes once in a while. That’s a pretty big bang for your parenting buck.
Also, spending one-on-one time with your little sweetheart helps increase your empathy for them. It gives you an opportunity to figure out what is going on with your little one – how are they feeling? What have they been up to recently? What have they been thinking about? Worrying about? What are they excited about?
Checking in with your kid about these things refreshes your relationship with them and helps parents to have a better understanding of why their children might be behaving certain ways. Maybe your child has been irritable lately. Spending some one-on-one time with them might reveal that they are fighting with their best friend. When you know the backstory, it’s so much easier to respond to a tantrum with understanding and empathy.
If your kid has been acting out recently, it could indicate that they need more of your attention. Often kids misbehave because they know it will get their parents’ attention. If you find times to predictably give your child attention before they act out, they will be less likely to misbehave in the future.
So finding ways to give your child some time for just the two of you boosts your child’s self-esteem and it can decrease misbehavior. Plus it just feels good to connect with your child.
What do you do with your kids one-on-one? We’d love to hear your ideas!