One Simple Thing You Can Do To Have a Better Relationship With Your Kids
Life as a mum is very busy, and sometimes it's hard to spend quality time with our kids. No-one denies we spend lots of time with them, but long days spent together does not always mean quality time. Investing in regular, quality time with each child individually can reap so many benefits for kids and parents.
When we are all together, it can be chaotic to say the least, with so many things fighting for our attention. Our children know when our mind is elsewhere, which of course it will inevitably and understandably be so much of the time. But when we put all else aside and properly give one child our full attention, whether it be an hour once or twice a month or just 15 minutes a day, when we can let go of thinking through all the things that need to be done and allow ourselves to truly surrender to our child and their world, you get to share something really special with them.
I've always made a point of spending one-on-one time with my oldest boy since our twin boys arrived. He loves time on his own with me or his dad - a chance for him to have our undivided attention and also to get away from his brothers. As he's getting older (he's 9 now) we are getting to do some really fun things together.
Sometimes we'll do date night, where he loves to put on his best shirt and go to his favourite pizza restaurant. It makes him feel very grown up and special. We always laugh SO much, take silly selfies and share an indulgent dessert - it's a real fun treat for both of us.
He also loves to come for an evening walk with me, and he will usually take this opportunity to open up about all the things that are on a growing boy's mind. I LOVE IT!
We also have our daily night-time ritual of reading in his bed together. Now that he is a little older we are reading books that we can both enjoy. Right now we are working our way through the Harry Potter box set, and we take it in turns to read a chapter a night. It is one of my favourite times of the day.
Every now and then we get to spend the whole day together - it's an amazing thing to do as you get to enjoy a real sense of freedom. Hanging out together, going for walks at the beach, a play at the park and just doing whatever you feel like with no time pressures provides a relaxing environment to just enjoy each others' company.
With the twins it is a little more tricky. The boys are incredibly close - they share a bedroom, share toys, share similar interests, and until recently, shared all their friends. Until they started school they had spent hardly any time apart. One on one time up until this point was not very practical for us, or wanted by them, but this is slowly starting to change.
Some opportunities are presented to us when one gets invited to a party or playdate without the other, and I'll do something fun with the other, like catching a ferry to the city or go to the movies. Other times I might get them to take it in turns to do more ordinary things like a trip to the supermarket (I normally don't let them anywhere near a supermarket when I have them all together) followed by an ice-cream or a babyccino. And sometimes it might be something as simple as doing a jigsaw together or baking some treats in the kitchen.
It's a blissful time, usually with lots of kisses, hugs or hand-holding, whilst engaged in a deep and meaningful conversation about all the exciting things to be found in the new level of Minecraft, or who would win in a fight - Batman or Spiderman. They are certainly much calmer, more engaged and less distracted than usual when we are one-on-one, and so am I.
One-on-one time is a simple thing that really seems to capture the true essence and joy of motherhood. It's about turning off the autopilot and being totally mindful and present with your child. It's about giving them your full and undivided attention and interest, so they feel seen, heard, understood and loved, making them more secure, confident and settled. An opportunity to drink them in, appreciate every little bit of them and observe the ways they are changing and growing, immersing yourself in them fully in a way that deepens bonds and unleashes huge love and joy.
They are growing before our very eyes and with each passing year the little tasks they constantly need us for now start to diminish. I sense the urgency in spending time with them, the quality time, the times they will remember as they grow older. As the saying goes, the days are long but the years are short and I don't want to miss a thing.
Five Tips on Spending One-on-One Time With Each Child
1. Make it a habit to have a chat with your child before bed. It's a lovely way to wind down and give your child the chance to talk about something that they are worried or excited about. These conversations will be special to your child and an easy way to build in a tradition of one-on-one time every day.
2. Plan a date. This can be something that happens monthly, and mum and dad can take it in turns for this one. It gives your child something to get excited about with you, and makes them feel special. It can be a dinner date where you can get dressed up, a movie, a trip to the nail salon or going to watch a local sports team play, the list is endless.
3. Get the kids to take it in turns to accompany you when you have chores to do. Whether it's a trip to the supermarket, dropping off clothes at the local op shop, or just going to the car wash, it's an easy way to build one-on-one time into a busy week.
4. Walk together. Just take it in turns with each child and off you go. Walking is a great way to remove yourself from distractions and enable you to talk and listen to each other with undivided attention.
5. Share a hobby. Whatever your child loves to do, be it swim, snorkel, play soccer, ride horses, paint or play music, make it something that you do regularly together - the memories and joy of the shared experience will last a lifetime.
Do you make a habit of spending one-on-one time with your kids? We'd love to hear what you do!