When we think of one on one time with kids many times it brings up pictures of tea parties, trips to book stores and coffee shops. But I think that really places the concept of parents growing to know their kids and love them into a reductive box.
A criticism of the homeschool community that I have heard, and think is a little warranted, is that we don’t really know our kids. Many of us have quite a few of them, and when it comes time to talk about them on special occasions like their birthday we often resort to “My sweet gentle-hearted child loves to serve her family and friends.” While at face value that doesn’t seem too bad, it’s more about how easy they are for the family and the value they provide rather than being about who they are as an individual, what they bring to the table uniquely, and what their own defining interest is.
Since then I’ve been trying to watch and observe what makes my own kids tick. What do they like to do for themselves when no one else is watching. Keaton absorbs himself in books and non-fiction. He has a very scientific brain that loves data and soaking up as much as humanly possible for an 8-year-old. Cedric on the other hand is our little artist. He loves to observe things carefully and work them out on paper. This manifests itself in the way they love to communicate as well. Keaton asks as many questions as he can squeeze in per hour. Cedric almost never asks a question. Instead, he prefers to tell you loooong stories about what he’s imagining, or a story he is experiencing.
Knowing these things about our kids takes time. But I believe it is time well spent, and is what a relationship with our kids looks like.
What if you don’t have Time
This is where the breakdown of the “date” model comes in. We don’t have to “go out” to spend one on one time with our kids. I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure that out. All but 5 or 6 of the individualized experiences I’ve had with my kids is in our home. It’s where a bulk of relationship has been formed. I don’t have enough babysitting options to do it any other way. If I’m hiring someone I want to go out with my husband.
Join them on an Interest
For Cedric, this looks like gathering watercolors and heading out to the yard to paint. It doesn’t happen often, but he talks about the times it has for years after. Two years ago I laid out a quilt and we drew daffodils, and he still talks about it. Small things can make an impression.
Before Bed Massage
I don’t really want to let my kids stay up later, so what I’ve done is get out lotion in the evenings and give them a 5-10 minute massage. During that time I ask how their day was. I give them a chance to tell me about what the best and worst part was, or to tell me about something they really found interesting. It’s not super long, but they love it and I’ve used up the 100 bottles of gifted hand lotion I had laying around the house.
Reading Picture Books
You may not think of this, but when it comes to your littlest one’s nursing, reading stories, and rocking them do count as their one-on-one time. We can build up in our mind what this is supposed to look like, but what it looks like for your infant and what this looks like for your teenager are going to be really different. Remember to consider the age of a person giving you advice and the age of their kids before trying to copy it!
Taking a Hard Right
Okay so now that I’ve set the stage for simpler ways, I do want to list out the many many ideas y’all submitted for one on one time with your kids. I don’t claim to be brilliant, or experienced. As I’m writing this my oldest is 8! I have a lot to learn. How every I have several thousand people per day who come in and drop nuggets of wisdom, and I want to give you access to that group think!!
- Read a separate book to them at bedtime
- Just take one kid on errands
- Hot Chocolate date (I get the kid up early to join me)
- Mini Golf with my older son and matching game with my young daughter
- Let them stay up 30 extra minutes
- Take them out for breakfast
- Get on the floor and play with them
- Spend some time with just one during naptime/quiet time
- Work on a task together while the others are napping.
- Playground crawl 30 min at 3 or 4 playgrounds instead of just one.
- Eat what they want for lunch
- Walk the dog together
- Go to Hobby Lobby to get craft supplies
- Do a craft during nap with just one
- Take my kid who love music to the music store
- Go on a hike together
- Sing while I rock my toddler
- Make LEGO sets together
- Make cards together
- Husband and I divide and conquer. We each get a Saturday one kid a month and then alternate
- Get pedicures together
- Go to Icecream
- Bake something together
- Have a “special show” you watch together.
- Take them with my to my prenatal appointment so I can listen to them while we wait together.
- Tour our own attractions in our city
- Lay in bed together in the morning and talk
I’m really grateful for all your submissions. These seem to be the general ideas there were a lot of variations on each of them, but I hope this gives you a good place to start! Comment more ideas below to assist with even more ideas!