It took me quite a while to realize one of the most important and successful secrets in parenting. It might seem obvious and something you knew, but it works for our family SO WELL I felt bad not sharing or just reminding you about it. It is The Best Parenting Advice of mine I always give (if anyone asks).
So here it is...
Spend One-on-One, Quality time with each child separately as often as you can. In other words, HAVE DATES WITH YOUR CHILDREN.
Why you should a have a date with your child
As a stay at home mom I spend at least 12 hours a day with my children. 7 days a week. 365 days a year. Hey, I even spend numerous hours a night with them. You would think, I bond and have enough time with my children.
But then one day I thought: How much do I really spend time with my children...
- While I try to help my daughter with the art activity she is really into it, I get distracted and pulled away by my toddler, who wants me to read a book about a "horsie".
- I try to sit down and learn colors and shapes with my little toddler, but then I get a request from my 5 year old who needs to have "Elsa's Hairstyle" right there, right now.
- We do have activities together. And we have fun. Lots of it. However, most siblings have very different personalities and it is impossible sometimes to pick activity that everybody would love.
So it's like I am there, but not 100% there.
Look at it from your own perspective. You want to go on a date with your spouse once in a while, don't you? Even if you are having a good family time, you still want that one on one conversation, uninterrupted listening and attention and lost and lots of love.
Kids do want that too!
Important Rules for successful date with your child
1. Whether you spend 5 minutes or 1 hour once a week, it must be quality time. This means:
- No cellphone conversations, email, Facebook checking or browsing Pinterest
- Make sure you are not stressed. Get in a good mood and be a happy mama.
- Don't rush the date. If you decided to spend some special time with your little one, let him lead the date. If he wants to spend 58 minutes feeding ducks, let him do it, even if it leaves you with 2 minutes of walking.
- Don't remember or remind the bad things that happened during the week/month. Make sure to compliment child's good behavior, good deeds he did and plan more good stuff.
2. Involve a child into picking what to do and where to go on a date.
- Give him choices to make things easier
- Let them lead the date
3. Be practical. We all have busy and hectic lives today, so to make the whole "date thing" possible and easier on the entire family, double task.
- If you take your daughter out on a date to the ice cream shop, suggest your spouse uses the opportunity to do something special with other child (if you have 2 children in the family).
- If you are don't have time this week/month for a special date, you can always run errands together with your child. Grocery shopping can also be a fun one on one special time with your child if the child is bigger and you can let him lead the shopping spree.
4. Never cancel or take the date away from your children as a way of punishment.
5. Do your best with the consistency of the dates. Kids look forward to those special moments and they get really dissapointed and sad when planned dates don't happen.
How will a date with your child make a happier parenting?
It does for us. I cannot speak for every family out there, but I can almost guarantee you that it will IMPROVE your relationship with the kids and it will make you a happier parent.
Here is why:
- It will make your bond stronger.
- Kids misbehaving because of not enough attention? One on one time on a date will solve that problem.
- You will get to know your child better, because sometimes they blend in with the siblings and some character features just don't come out.
- You will create incredible memories of their childhood. For them and for you.
Date ideas with your children
Sky is the limit here. The concept of a date is basically just spending some time together. It doesn't even matter where it is.
We have weekly 2 hour and daily 10 minute dates with our children. The weekly dates are not always "fancy", we don't spend money or take special trips to town. It's something more simple. Once in few months if we have a chance we will try to make it more special, like taking a class together. The daily 10 minutes is something that I think I could not live without. It's a challenge to find time every day, but it's so worth it. Just sneaking outside the house after the dinner with one of the child is a magic adventure to them and a heart warming moments for you.
Be simple. Creative. Practical and Fun.
Here are my favorite date ideas with our children.
With my daughter:
- Have dance party at home
- Go for a walk in the old town. Get lost in little streets and boutiques.
- Secretly escape the house and sit outside the porch or balcony after the dinner. Count the stars and look at the moon together.
- Go flower picking and make beautiful flower arrangements for the house.
- Write silly and sometime brilliant poems
With my son:
He is just a toddler, so most of the things we do together is play:
- Really get into the game or toy together with him. (in my case, literally get in the toy).
- Go fruit picking in our garden
- Roll down from the hill
- Take a bath together
- Go to a near airport/train station to look at the planes/trains
I hope you got a tip or two from this post. Go on the date with your child. Just once. You will love it. It is the best parenting advice I can give you.
Are you a mom who is struggling with mornings? Take a look at my most popular post ever about How I became Happier Stay at Home Mom.
Talking more about parenting, I happen to run another blog. It's about Attachment Parenting. If your heart is close to this type of parenting, check out my posts about Positive Child Discipline.
Betsy @ BPhotoArt says
What a lovely way to reconnect with kids! I'm pinning this and really want to implement it around our household too 🙂
Birute Efe says
Betsy, thank you so much for your comment. I really hope you try to have a date with your children and I am sure you will be loving it. Have Fun!
Emma @ P is for Preschooler says
This is great advice! I know what you mean about being home all day with the kids but still not being totally "there". We're going to try this date idea!
Clarissa Hooper says
Great advice! I have a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and a newborn on the way. I can already see jealousy creeping in ("NO! That's MY mommy!!!") So spending quality time with each of my munchkins is important. I like the idea of taking them on dates for my undivided attention.
Amanda @artsy_momma says
Such great photos and tips ! I love the swing one 🙂
Jamie @Hand Made Kids Art says
I try to do this too! Great suggestions on how to give each child your undivided attention and what to do on a date with your child. 🙂
I've been thinking about this too ! Taking care of them and intentional is really a difference. Love your ideas and tips and really true !
Great reminder !
I love that swing you posted a pic of! So creative!
Birute Efe says
Thanks, Debs. That's in Lithuania when I was visiting my family.
Honestly, your article was great but every time I read something like this it just makes me more scared to have child #2. 🙁 Right now I know our son (2.5 years old) so well. I know him so completely and spend every moment of the day with him, many of those playing and focusing on him. Reading that it's hard to catch 10 minutes with a child or that the deeper parts of a child's personality may get missed because you're not 100% present saddens me. I know it is the same in every family. I'm an only child myself so I can't really understand life with siblings, but I can understand the relationship I had with my parents and the relationship I have with my son now. I feel like I'd be giving up that special closeness by adding #2.
I know this is an old post. And I do not know, if you have added a number 2. But I Will tell you this:
When I see our 6 year old and 1 year old tumbling together, my hearts melt, and my first thought is that THIS is the meaning of getting siblings: Our big one can give him an undevided attention and natural "social feedback" that we grown-ups cannot give under no surcumstances..
When she is with him, she is there... 100 %. All the time. And he laughs.... she shoul just sneeze or something similar.
We have a 16 year old as well, and when the little ones melt his heart as well and l can see it.... my heart melts again. 🙂
Do not be afraid of siblings... they are sometimes a nightmare, but also great great pleasure!!
Ps, I come my self from a one-child family. And my husband do as well.