Question: I made a New Year’s resolution to spend more time with my kids and already it’s too hard to keep! I have a 2-year-old, 7-year-old and 11-year-old. Because of the age spread and differing interests and abilities, it’s very challenging to do something together we all enjoy.
My hope with this resolution was to spend more time one-on-one with each child. I wanted to come home from work and spend time with each kid individually. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, and I feel like the years are passing so quickly. Pretty soon, they won’t want anything to do with me.
Any idea how I can make this resolution work for me and my family?
Answer: My advice to you is to have more realistic expectations of yourself. You’re right; there are only so many hours in the day. It is genuinely wonderful that you’re craving more time with your children to just enjoy them. There are definitely steps you can take toward that goal. Is it realistic to give each child a chunk of undisturbed one-on-one time every day? I doubt it. But you could rotate days of the week so that each child gets a turn having you for a reasonable amount of time. A tool I like to use with my kids is called “Special Time,” developed by Hand in Hand Parenting (handinhandparenting.org). How it works is you set aside a short period of time, say 10-15 minutes, to spend with your child in an activity of their choice – within reason of course. Reading a story, playing a game of cards, drawing pictures, shooting hoops are all examples of simple things you can do during special time. What makes this time so special is that the child knows they can count on it and that during that 10 minutes you will pour in your warmth, interest and attention to them and only them.
Although it is a short amount of time, occurring only once or twice a week, it is an incredibly powerful way to connect with your child.
Adding special time to your routine, coupled with all the other small but significant things you do for your relationship on a daily basis such as cuddling, eating together, listening to their stories, helping with their homework, etc. will go a long way to strengthen your bond and help you to feel you are remaining in touch with who your child is becoming. Never underestimate the small things. They mean more than we will ever know.
Julia Cadieux, a PCI Certified Parent Coach and Capital District mom, helps other parents look within for the answers they seek and believes there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to child-rearing. Send you questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.