Wednesday, March 22, 2017

One-on-One Time With Each Kid

I am one of five kids.

My parents, God bless them, had five children in 10.5 years- four girls, one boy.  Being the oldest, I remember so much of when my younger siblings were little and so much of what it was like to be one of five.  It was loud, crazy, and ridiculously loving.  We had more than enough people to keep us occupied, enough people to play games, enough people to play sports, enough people to play pretend about everything, and plenty of people to conjure up ideas and adventures.  What was tricky, was being able to stand on your own in a family like that- to take time for yourself, to find respite, to be alone if you wanted.  Yes, every kid is different, but you can imagine how easily a brain might be jumbled to try to keep track of five special unique humans. My parents had be so intentional in order to keep up and keep track of our individual talents, our likes and dislikes, our favorite meals, our good friends, and our individual personality traits.

They also had to be intentional to spend time with each of us alone.  Do you know how hard it was for one child to be with one parent for a length of time?  We couldn't even use the restroom without someone barging in let alone being able to spend some quality time with Mom and/or Dad.  

Having three kids of my own, with only two years between them, makes it challenging for Josh and I to continue to let each boys' crown shine brightly on their own.  I want my children to feel part of a cohesive family unit and feel confident and self-aware of their individuality too.  I want them to feel loved, individually by me and individually by Josh and feel like we give each of them quality one-on-one time.  Whew- just reading that back makes me feel overwhelmed.   

I paused to think about this because today, March 22nd, is my half birthday.  To some people, that is no big deal, but in my family, this day matters ;) 

Even though I am 33.5 years old, I still received this text from my mom at 6:34am:

Happy half birthday to you, love you so much, let me know when it's  good day for dessert! Accompanied by a few emoji's of course ;) 

One way my  parents deliberately fit in some alone time with each of their kids was for our birthdays and half birthdays.  For as long as I can remember, my dad would take us out to a special dinner on our birthday alone and my mom would take us out for a dessert on our half birthday alone. Sometimes it would happen a couple of weeks after one of those days and sometimes (in the case of my two sisters who have birthdays in March), it might not have always been one-on-one, but that was always the goal.  Guaranteed quality time.   

Here are a few other ideas that were used when I was growing up, some ideas Josh and I have used with our boys, or some ideas I've read or heard of that I'd like to incorporate into our family:

One-on-One Walks- For us, they are often on the beach at my parents cottage, but could easily be around a neighborhood or in a park.  Spending time individually with each child where there is nothing to do but just talk is a beautiful thing.  

"Raisins"- These are individual small dates (get it?! HA!) with your children.  I must give credit to my mom's friend, Karen, for coining the name.  It can be as grandeur as a planetarium visit or as small as an errand to go pick up library books.  It's great to get a son or a daughter out of the house with just Mom or just Dad.  Josh and I continue to try to make these happen on purpose throughout our year.  Josh got me little "raisins" with each boy for a mother's day present and we've also thought about them as we plan Christmas or birthday gifts.  It's a great way to explore people's individual likes and talents.  For example, Nolan got to go to a special weather day at Impression 5 Science Museum with Josh (the kid is OBSESSED with weather) and Judah got to go play on a playground with Mom (playing outside is his number 1 most favorite thing). 

Cook a Meal Together- My boys do really like to cook, but even when they're not into actually helping me, the illusion that they are making the meal with me keeps them engaged and it's so much fun to mix things, pour/dump things, and play music and do some dancing in the kitchen.  

Play with just Mom or just Dad-  This year, as Nolan and Judah have started preschool, Carter and I get to be totally alone a couple of times a week together and it is obvious how much he appreciates that time with just me.  This individual playtime has been built into our schedule naturally.  We also try to do it on purpose when w are all home together. Josh or I might take Judah downstairs to play a game by himself, Nolan might get to go build something on his own with one of us, or Carter might go upstairs in his room and read some books with Josh or me.  In these moments, each kid can play with what THEY want without worrying if the other two wanted to play with that or not.  

Special Helper- At school, the kids get elected to be the special helper for the day.  I've thought recently how cool that would be to do that at home as well.  Have one kid who is your go-to guy or gal for the day! A kid could also be picked to be your assistant on a home project or chore. 

Birthday Day- I read recently about a family who celebrates the number day of each child's birth each month.  So I was born on the 22nd- the 22nd of each month would be a special day for me.  Stay up a little later?  Maybe get a little treat?  Some one-on-one time?  I dig it... cool idea! Read more about it here

I look forward to continue building things like this into our life so that whether we end up with three kids or eleven, they will know my love and appreciation for each of them.

Thanks for making me feel important as Kristin Marie Pavona not just one of those Pavona kids, mom and dad.  I know it wasn't easy!!!!  I hope my kids will look back on their childhood and feel the same. 

What do you do in your families to help kids get some quality one-on-one time?  I'd love more tools in my toolbox!   

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