Today, parents seem busier than ever before. We know we need to give our children our undivided attention, but there are so many things vying for our time. Even if we try to make quality time for them, our phones are chiming with new texts, e-mails, IM’s, and voicemails and people expect a reply RIGHT NOW!
When my two children were very young, my husband’s grandma received a special 80th birthday memory book made by the family. One of the memories in the book that really stuck out to me was from her daughter, my husband’s aunt. She wrote about how she loved having special time out with her mom away from her older sister and triplet younger sisters. I thought to myself that if a woman with five children, three of which are triplets, can make the time to take her daughter out for a special one-on-one day, surely I can do something similar.
Remembering that it’s really about building a relationship with our children rather than spending a lot of money or going somewhere fancy, my husband and I have thought of many ideas throughout the years to spend one-on-one time with each of our boys. Everyday, I would spend one of my infant’s nap times alone with my toddler. We would use this time to make not-so-crafty crafts, read books, play games or play with Play-Doh. On Saturdays, my husband would often take our toddler to a nearby hardware store to get supplies for a home project or just look around (There’s a lot of fun stuff for a toddler to touch at a hardware store!). Then he would treat him to a hot dog at the cart outside the store. Our toddler loved his time alone with each of us and often talked about it.
From the time our boys were both toddlers through elementary school-age, one of our family’s favorite times was right before bed. My husband went into one boy’s room while I went into the other. We would just sit on their beds and talk to them. A lot of the time was spent telling silly stories and laughing. Our boys would often request to hear stories from when we were young. After about ten minutes, my husband and I would trade rooms. When they got to school-age, this was often the time that we would hear about what went on at school that day. Bedtime ran rather smoothly at our house because the kids had something to look forward to each night. It didn’t cost a thing, but we have treasured memories that will last forever. I’m sure giving each child a specific night of the week would also work, especially for more than two children.
Now that we have teenagers, we still enjoy one-on-one time with them and think it’s even more important than when they were younger. Some of the things we do include browsing at bookstores, going out for ice cream or a meal, going to specialty stores, staying home to play a game, playing sports (well, my husband does that one) or just tagging along on errands. Like I said, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Our teens still need to have our undivided attention. Continuing to build close relationships with them is vitally important.
By the way, our pesky phones can be turned off!