I heard, “Here, Mom!” and looked up just in time for the corner of a hardbound book to hit me in my right eye. Thanks a lot, buster (aka son)…Parenting can be such a dangerous job! I don’t know if I cried more over my eye pain or the frustration that things just seemed to be going all wrong that day. My husband and I had just made an inter-state move with our five children ages one to ten, and stress and exhaustion levels were high. Though I didn’t feel well that day, I was trying to unpack some boxes. I wasn’t making much progress because my three-year-old son kept misbehaving. Finally I realized he might just need some individual attention. I walked away from the boxes and sat down on the couch, offering to read him a book. A few seconds later, as I was talking with my one-year-old, the unexpected book came hurling across the room.
Sometimes as moms we feel like we are getting nowhere in our best efforts to parent and do the right things for our children. Instead of the heartwarming snuggly storytime I envisioned, I ended up with a black eye. (We did actually get around to the book once I got over my 5-minute pity party).
Don’t give up in the fight to parent well. One of the best gifts we can give our children is meaningful time with them as individuals. In our house, it’s easy to move from one thing to another as a group, and lose sight of them as individuals. In that case, the most powerful personalities dominate the attention and the activities.
I can’t believe the new insights and understanding I’ve gained about my children by spending individual time with them. God made them each unique, and we want them each to be able to develop to their fullest potential.
Some one-on-one tips:
Calendar the time for individual interaction, or you will always put it off until the next week. (If you have a baby, it is wise to plan for the time with the older children during baby’s naptime.)
Let the children decide the activity for their individual interaction time. For little ones, you may want to give them two or three options to choose from.
It does not have to cost any money, but it does cost time, which is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.
Allow only true emergencies to interrupt the time you have set aside.
Set the timer for the allotted time, and let the other children know you are off-limits during that time. They will honor that rule for each other, since they know the others will honor it when their time comes.
You may never dream of the enriching time you will have yourself! I’ve been instructed in martial arts, played a good few rounds of HORSE in basketball, built with legos and K-Nex(not as easy as it appears!), played with Littlest Pet Shop figures, and gone on picnics.
Have fun playing a little one-on-one! Your kids will not forget it. And my hunch is that you won’t either.