In many of the parenting articles I have read over the years they have often suggested that as the number of children in your family increased that you should make time to spend with each child one on one. Give them each a bit of time with just you and them, and with each parent individually. Yet as the number of children in the household increases the amount of ‘leisure time’ seems to decrease comparatively as there are more activities, more friends to play with and more things to do in general, like cleaning and laundry!
Where do you find the time exactly? The thing I have learned and been gently reminded of, is that kids don’t need large blocks of time or need to do fancy and exciting things during with you. They just want some time with you, it doesn’t matter to them how long or what you are doing; just that you spend time with them. Of course there are times when they would like to do something a little more involved and exciting (like laser tag, dinner or a movie), but they don’t always need that kind of activity with you on a regular basis. Your one on one focused attention is what they desire.
A prime example of this for me was this past Saturday. I had to take Matthew, my oldest, to pick out his frames and order his glasses. Our optometrist is up in Signal Hill, which is northwest Calgary and a bit of a drive for us. I had the opportunity to do this with just Matthew as D’Wayne had offered to watch the twins while we went.
Matthew was super excited to go. I had asked him to shower before we left, washing his hair and even suggested he dress up. He not only did as I asked but combed and parted his hair and put on a shirt and tie! He was bouncing and excited in the car as we drove to the optometrist, his eyes sparkling and chatting about this and that. It is not often that we get to go somewhere and have an uninterupted conversation, as usually the twins are chiming in or have something of their own to say.
He noticed and mentioned how I had showered and put on make-up and I responded, “Well if you’re dressing up then I should too.” He just smiled. Once we got to the optometrist we were literally only there for 10 minutes, as Matthew already knew which frames he wanted and it was just the details to sort out. I was kind of disappointed knowing that our time was so short. That’s when I decided we’d stop at Community Natural Foods on the way home. So we popped over there picking up a ‘few things’ (I had intended on only getting some vegan cream cheese but ended up with a few more items, especially with Matthew picking things up and asking to buy them. And honestly in that store he is asking for dried mangos and cheese, not chocolate bars and candy, very hard to say no).
Even this time in the Community Natural was fun, bonding and a way to continue to get to know each other. Yes he did ask me for many things, of which some I said yes and others no, but it was great. We laughed, we enjoyed.
As I was driving home I realized then that the time I spend with him one on one does not always have to be fancy, simply focused and interactive. I have always made the effort to spend time with just him, either taking him to a movie, going for a walk or playing a board game at home once the twins are in bed. But I realized in that moment that whether it be a trip to the optometrist or a little grocery shopping as long as it’s him and me that was all that mattered. And if I could give him more moments like this, even at home, if only small, that that would make such a difference in our relationship. As I have even noticed that although sometimes I have to fight with him to come and dry the dishes, that once he is there, he is quite chatty and happy and we have some great conversations and connection happening.
I feel as parents yes it is important that we spend one on one time with each of our children but that we need to give ourselves a break and realize that it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, just a happy and enjoyable few moments (or more when possible) where we can connect with each other, and remember who we are to each other and in this world. To listen and recognize the beauty in our children and the great gifts that they bring to our world, as well as to share who we are and our wisdom with them. That is connection, that is bonding and that is something we don’t always achieve with all the kids together at once. It is not only rewarding for the child, but will be extremely rewarding for you as well.