Just you and me Eight good rea­sons for alone time with your child

As your fam­ily grows, it’s all the more im­por­tant to spend some reg­u­lar time alone with each of your kids. Shanda Luyt tells you how and why…

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

YOU AND YOUR MOM bak­ing cook­ies to­gether. Dad tak­ing you – just you – out for an ice cream. Bath­time with him ev­ery night while the two of you pre­tend you’re pirates. Time spent to­gether. Oneon-one bond­ing time. Magic mo­ments to cher­ish for­ever.

There are few things as pre­cious for a child as spend­ing time alone with Mom or Dad, be­cause it’s dur­ing these mo­ments that re­la­tion­ships are truly forged. Time alone with each one of your chil­dren main­tains and keeps your unique re­la­tion­ship with them healthy, US child psy­chol­o­gist Dr Kyle Pruett writes on the web­site Psy­chol­ogy To­day.

But it’s eas­ier said than done: With a cry­ing baby and a busy tod­dler or two in the house, there’s barely time to knock back a cup of cof­fee, let alone pay in­di­vid­ual at­ten­tion to each of your kids. Yet it’s in these very crazy mo­ments that you need to make the time.

HOW, WHAT AND WHEN?

Spend­ing time alone with ev­ery child is im­por­tant even when they’re tiny ba­bies, but your child’s age will largely in­flu­ence what this time en­tails. A baby’s spe­cial time may be as sim­ple as mak­ing eye con­tact and chat­ting while he’s nurs­ing, or turn­ing a nappy change into play­time.

Bath time is an­other slot for bond­ing; as is the time you spend to­gether in the rocker while you sing him lul­la­bies.

Your tod­dler and young child’s needs may be sim­i­lar but re­quire a bit more in­ter­ac­tion, like singing songs or read­ing to­gether. Grad­u­ally, as his at­ten­tion span stretches, you’ll also spend longer times in each other’s ex­clu­sive com­pany. Spe­cial time now be­comes more of a

chal­lenge in your no-doubt al­ready jam­packed par­ent­ing sched­ule. So team­work be­tween par­ents is es­sen­tial for suc­cess.

There are no set rules about the hows and whens of one-on-one time, but these guide­lines should help.

1 MAKE SURE EACH PAR­ENT GETS SOME TIME ALONE WITH EV­ERY CHILD

so that you don’t end up each build­ing a strong re­la­tion­ship with one child only. Both of you can con­trib­ute some­thing unique to your child’s life. So de­lib­er­ately mix it up reg­u­larly.

If you have two kids, you can do it si­mul­ta­ne­ously: Dad hangs out with one child and Mom with the other one. If there are more than two, one par­ent can have alone time while the other one takes care of the rest of the brood.

2 DON’T WAIT FOR ONE BIG MO­MENT.

Rather try and work a bit of quiet time into your and your child’s shared sched­ule ev­ery day. Rou­tine tasks can be used clev­erly, for in­stance bathing alone with Dad at night, and that’s their alone time to­gether. Or go­ing shop­ping for bread and milk with mom ev­ery evening. Dad can read to the one and mom to the other child – and to­mor­row night you swop sprogs dur­ing bed­time story hour.

3 EN­SURE YOUR TIME TO­GETHER IS FO­CUSED.

Dur­ing this time your cell­phone should be switched off and your un­di­vided at­ten­tion should be fo­cused 100 per­cent on your child. Watch­ing tele­vi­sion to­gether is not oneon-one time. Lis­ten at­ten­tively to your child – and talk.

4 SCHED­ULE SPE­CIAL DATES ALONE WITH YOUR CHILD.

Try for once a month, and week­ends are per­haps more prac­ti­cal. Put it into your di­ary, and make a big deal about it. The an­tic­i­pa­tion is part of the fun, and it’s won­der­ful for your child to see how ex­cited you are about the up­com­ing date for just the two of you.

5 IT DOES NOT HAVE TO COST ANY­THING,

and you don’t even have to leave the house, but it should be some­thing that you both en­joy and can do with­out in­ter­rup­tions from the rest of the fam­ily, even if it means you have to lock your­selves in the kitchen! An out­ing like a visit to the park or an ice cream par­lour will make the date a lit­tle more spe­cial though.

6 SET SPE­CIAL TRA­DI­TIONS

for ev­ery child and your re­la­tion­ship, such as hav­ing a unique greet­ing or song you sing when you pass a cer­tain shop.

SPEND­ING TIME ALONE WITH EV­ERY CHILD IS IM­POR­TANT EVEN WHEN THEY’RE TINY BA­BIES, BUT YOUR CHILD’S AGE WILL LARGELY IN­FLU­ENCE WHAT THIS TIME EN­TAILS

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