One of the things that can be the most guilt inducing when you have several children is the issue of one on one time with individual children.
I’ve even seen mothers of just two kids ask how to accomplish this.
I have 6 kids.
If I said that I never once worried that each of my children gets enough face time with me, I’d be lying. Of course I’ve had that concern.
But for the most part, I don’t worry about finding one on one time with individual kids on a regular basis.
For one, the idea of individual time is overstated. Kids don’t need it as much as many people think they do. It’s more important that the kids know they can come to you when they do need you.
That has to do with the quality of your relationship, not the number of siblings they have.
Even though I planned my second child and was very happy about his arrival, I was concerned about my firstborn losing out on alone time with me!
Looking back I know this was silly, because I had plenty of time to share with both of them, and they benefit immeasurably from the sibling relationship.
I didn’t have this same fear with subsequent pregnancies. We moms are always feeling guilty about something, and many times our fears are perfectly irrational.
Thirdly, I don’t worry about it because I find that if I listen, my kids let me know when they need some one on one time.
Since each kid is different I don’t worry about scheduling it in. I just keep my eyes and ears open for the signs. Older kids will come right out and ask me (Mo-om! Can I come with you to the store? Just me?), and younger kids will show me with their behavior.
Here are some of the ways I fit in one on one time with my kids:
- Walks. I walk around my neighborhood and every day I ask one kid to accompany me (the toddler always comes too but she doesn’t interrupt!) and we talk one on one for that time.
- Errands. When I’m running a quick errand I’ll often leave all the kids home with hubs, except one, and take that child with me. They might get a Starbucks cocoa or something as a little treat.
- Bedtime. Sometimes I’ll crawl into bed with one kid and read and cuddle with them for a few minutes.
- Early Morning. One of my kids is an early riser and since I get up super early, I think he gets up first just so he can chat with me. He is my second baby, I mentioned him earlier. He used to stay awake late at night long after his big brother (my first) was asleep, and I always said he did it just to be alone with me!
- Other Adults. Since I’m in a blended family, my kids go to their non-custodial parents periodically for visits. They also go overnight to their grandparent’s home. They have lots of other caring adults who love them and certainly don’t lack attention. Sometimes when a couple of my bio kids are gone to their Dad’s, I get to cherish some more time with them individually. My boys even crave one on one time with their stepfather. When he announces he’s heading out on an errand, they rush to be the one chosen to accompany him.
- Read Aloud. Sometimes when a few of the kids are otherwise engaged in play, one child will bring me a book and ask me to read to them. I’m currently reading James and the Giant Peach – but just to my 10 year old son, not the other kids. (I’m reading Nurse Matilda to the girls, and Julie of the Wolves to all of them. Can you tell I love read aloud?) Even this little patch of time is precious to me, and to that child.
- Affection and Eye Contact. A child’s bucket is filled when they get plenty of physical affection, eye contact and your attention when they talk to you about what’s important to them. “Individual attention” can take place with just a few moments here and there.
What say you? Do you think the importance of one on one time is overrated? How do you manage to fit in individual time with your kids?