Spending One-On-One Time With Your Kids

Family time is important, but the often-overlooked one-on-one time with each child is essential and here's why


When Holt, my son, was almost one, I worried that he didn’t like me.

I had reason. He always gravitated towards his father. He was always saying, “Dada,” “Dada,” “Dada,” even when “Dada” was not home. This was quite a shock to me. It wasn’t that Holt didn’t love me. He came with me to many, many, many places and will kiss my cheek and wave a goodbye with a kiss, and I’m usually the one putting him to sleep, reading him stories. But there was no, “Mama,” “Mama,” Mama.” Holt’s Dad gets annoyed that Holt always gravitates to him, while I’m super jealous!

And when Holt’s sisters (three of them) are around, Holt forgets I exist entirely.

With my first, Rowan, from day one she acted like she was a third arm, constantly holding onto me wherever we went. It was and is clear, that in her eyes, I’m her best friend. But she’s ten.

When Holt entered this world, he had three big sisters, two wonderful grandmothers/grandfathers, and his main love — his father. Were my feelings hurt?

Of course! I’m the one who carried him around for almost ten months and I gained 70 pounds!

Before he arrived in the world, I really only knew how to entertain and talk girl language. When my eldest bonus daughter had her first breakup, I took her on a shopping spree and then to Starbucks for a chat about how confusing the male species can be. She so appreciated this. For her, it wasn’t the breakup that was a memory, but the fact I took her shopping and to talk.

My second bonus daughter, who loves art and movies, I’ve taken her to art supply stores and every movie that Chatum Tanning has been in, just the two of us. (We both have crushes on him.) It’s not even the movie she enjoys, it’s that I carved out time especially for her.

So I had an epiphany! Because I was spending quality time with each of these daughters, I was bonding with them. Not all together, like, “Let’s all jump in the car and go Wonderland!” But more like, “It’s not the quantity of time spent with your children, it’s the quality of time.” That’s my motto, and I’m sticking to it.

For Rowan, it could be a trip to McDonalds, or a mother/daughter vacation. For Bonus Daughter #1, it is shopping and boy talk.

For Bonus Daughter #2, it’s buying paints and canvases and teaching her how to splatter paint in the backyard. Family time is nice, but I also believe that any parent with more than one child should most definitely spend “quality time” with each of them, just the two of you. It could be as easy as going for ice cream.

So, with Holt, I started to get into his tent (yes, we have one especially for him in our living room.) For 45 brain-numbing minutes, in the tent, it was just me, Holt and his 421 toy cars, which we gleefully crashed into each other, making both of us laugh.

I’ve now made it a ritual to have one-on-one bonding time with every child. And guess what? After a few of these toy car crashing bonding moments, Holt became very into me. HA!

Sure, it could be his age, but my theory is that, instead of always grouping the family together for outings, it’s MORE important to spend one-on-one quality time with each child. Each child has different interests, different personalities, and, boy, do they love one-on-one time with Mommy.

With Holt, I have sit outside a construction site for 30 minutes (that’s my limit) but Holt LOVES it. And he gets quality bonding time with just “Mama.”

So now when I’m home, it’s equally “Mama,” and “Dada.” So, (YAY!) my son doesn’t dislike me. He just needed more one-on-one time, crashing cars into each other or staring at construction sites with “Mama.” even if I find it boring as watching paint dry. I still do it.

Plus, since I’m not the BEST at driving or parking large cars, I figure, if I spend quality one-on-one time with each child, they will be happier, and I, too, will be happier with my four-door sedan, which can only fit three passengers, with very small legs. It’s a win-win for all! Especially for your children!

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