+ 3 kids under 5
+ twins (included in that count, don’t worry)
+ home manager
+ EVERYTHING ELSE
= not a whole lot of time for anything else.
I pride myself on being pretty damn efficient managing all of the above, so why do I choose to do something totally inefficient, like spending time with my kids one on one when I could be checking off the quality time with my kids box by spending time with all three at once? I’ll tell you why…
Let’s start with the older boys—the twins.
Now, I’m not a twin, but I hang out with a set of them every day. And usually, my time spent with them is, you guessed it, together. They go to the same preschool, are in the same class, and do the same activities...for now. This will change (the class and activities, schools likely not-I don’t want to go overboard here), but right now, they are together A LOT. Oh, and did I mention? They’re identical! Yep, people are constantly confusing them, calling them one combined name and treating them a little bit like they’re 1.5 kids. Until recently, I didn’t realize how much these guys were being deprived of individuality in their daily lives. So, I started making the effort to change that.
I know what you’re thinking. How can I make time for this when I barely have enough time for anything? Well, mama, believe it or not, you don’t need to carve out lots of hours or an elaborate day at the zoo or something really big here. Actually, I don’t recommend that. You’d probably have a ton of mom guilt later for not including your other equally as interested offspring.
You know what I do?
I do little things that give us time together, just us, to chat and connect without consistent sibling interruptions.
Here are some ways I make this work.
First off, I set realistic goals. I tell myself that once a quarter, I will have a one on one date with each kid. That’s a total of 1 one on one date per month. I think that’s pretty doable. And lately, I’ve been exceeding it, so you know the overachiever in me is giving myself a high five…(or essentially clapping because that’s what giving yourself a high five really is, isn’t it?I digress…)
My kids love bagels and we don’t eat them that often. Sometimes our one on one dates are an hour at the bagel store. I let my kid pick a chocolate chip bagel AND a chocolate milk (rebel, I know). I give you this example because I also like being a little more lenient during this time. I’d normally be like, “Too much sugar, choose one or the other.” But on one on one date, mama is little more laid back.
Honestly, sometimes our one on one dates are just some accompaniment running errands. For example, my husband will take one kid to Costco and then grab a hot dog for lunch with him at the food court OR let our kid have the autonomy of picking a snack for the week. This makes him feel uber important and, again, lets him have some nice attention and time with his dad that he doesn’t often get in a house of full of, well, kids.
So, what do I love about this solo time with my kid?
The conversations we have. We talk about anything and everything without being interrupted. It’s a rare commodity in a house of five.
The appreciation in his face. The last time my son and I had our bagel date, he told me how much he liked spending time with me. I mean, is this not what every mom (especially mom of boys) wants to hear? If I want this little man to grow into a big man who still feels that way, then I need to start cultivating that relationship NOW, not during tween or teen years when my kid is embarrassed about his mom’s jeans (which by the way, he won’t be because I consider myself extremely in touch with the latest fashion trends—age appropriate of course, no crop tops for mama).
The relaxed me that isn’t constantly saying, “No” or “Don’t touch that” or anything else negative because, shit, it’s a lot easier managing one kid. Sorry, but it is.
Are you wondering about the other child I mentioned? Well, he’s just a baby, so he doesn’t count.
As if, Clueless fans! Of course, he counts!
My one on one time with this little guy is usually a walk. A walk where I’m not trying to ensure two other kids on scooters don’t get hit by a car. A walk where I can point out the trees, the squirrels, the leaves AND get some exercise in! Nothing wrong with a little 'what's in it for me'!
So yeah, spending one on one time doesn’t necessarily need to be something huge and shouldn’t feel like another thing you need to add to your list of mom guilt tasks. Work it into your schedule. Put it on your calendar. Get your kid psyched up for it. And know it’s making a HUGE impact on their lives.