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…
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