The importance of one-on-one time for kiddos & 5 tips for special time

Kiddos thrive on connection and attention. With only one child, that’s easy to figure out – when I had just one, we had so much time just the two of us. Now with five kiddos, one-on-one time is harder to come by, yet probably even more important.

When adding a new sibling into a family, it’s not only the previous youngest who might have feelings about it. Even older kids can find it hard to adjust. Family dynamics are thrown all over, and it can be a stressful time while things settle down into a new normal.

Even 8 months on, baby number five still has an effect on how the others are feeling and acting.

I’ve always made it a point to spend some one-on-one ‘special time’ with each of my kiddos. It doesn’t always happen weekly, as our lives are petty hectic, and the girls especially have so much going on. BUT it does happen frequently.

For the older ones, it’s a time for us to chat, to keep those lines of communication open as they navigate the teenage years. A time when they can have my full attention without anyone else around, and open up without others listening in.

For younger kids, it’s a time to spend some time focusing solely on them, playing what they want to play, listening to what they need to tell you.

It helps keeps behavior in check, as they feel more connected to you, more centered, more secure of your love and attention. Little kids {and bigger kids] don’t always have the words to tell you how they are feeling, so they will act out instead of speaking. Taking time to be with just them reminds them of how important they are, that while things may have changed your love and attention are still there.

It makes such a big difference, and while it can be tricky to factor in for us at the moment, as a single parent family with no help and a small baby, we work around what we have and fit it in.

For us, I try to have a movie night with the older three once or twice a month {at least}, while it’s not always a movie – sometimes we’ll have a series we’re working our way through, we can do this once the little ones are in bed and it’s just two of us. It’s great to have a common interest that brings you together, and my teens love our nights together.

Beastie right now loves having a games night with just me – again, I’ll pop Oren to bed so I can give him a good hour of my undivided attention, we’ll grab some snacks, pop some music on and play all the board games!

Sometimes I’ll fit in extra one-on-one time whilst the baby naps, especially if I find myself with only one bigger kiddo at home. Or maybe I’ll take someone out to the coffee shop for a treat.

  • Set a regular date – put it on the calendar, and make it important, and non-negotiable. Kids like to know when they have their turn. It could be a weekly date night, a once-a-fortnight date or whatever works best for your family set up.
  • Let your child choose – let them pick what their special time consists of. Movie, a coffee date, board games, a pamper night…. let them lead the way
  • No phones – we have a no-phone rule when we’re having one-on-one time, this makes sure our attention isn’t diverted away from what we’re doing.
  • Ask them questions – even if we’re having a movie night, I’ll use our time to have a good chat, ask them about activities they’ve been doing, or things that they like, find out what they want to do soon, or where they’d like to go for holiday…
  • Keep a journal – a shared journal that you take turns in writing in is a great addition to special time. Sometimes it’s easier to write things down than to say them out loud, and it can be helpful writing letters back and forth between you and your child.

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