The Value of One-on-One Time
- Friday, May 14, 2010
At first, five minutes can seem almost impossible to find, but as you do this daily, those five minutes will fly by. Take this issue to your heavenly Father if it is something you can't seem to figure out. With a newborn, I hardly had time to brush my teeth, let alone to find five minutes for five other people. When I faithfully prayed that God would help me so I could use this one-on-one time to guard against any jealousy or bitterness that might arise against a colicky, high-maintenance newborn, He answered my prayer. God equipped me with the strength to just sit with each person and talk, and everyone else developed more security in our loving relationship.
Be Better at Bonding
This is quite possibly the easiest of these three steps: take advantage of time you spend together already. Little ones need baths and stories read to them, right? Previously, I would bring a magazine into the bathroom to read while my toddlers played in the bathtub, but now I usually try to just get silly and have fun while I am alone with a particular child. While everyone is rushing around during the day, make it a point to look at your family members, hug them, and give affection. Those seconds will add up.
Don't forget school time! The one-on-one time available to us as homeschoolers gives us a chance to see strengths and weaknesses. With older kids and teens, why not have a helper at your side while you prepare meals? Not only will you have less work and get to do more hands-on teaching, but both of you will be spending quality alone time together. Older kids like to stay up late at night, so for a special treat, we let our 10-year-old sit up longer with one of us once a week. For a date night at home with your spouse, give the kids a quick and easily cleaned-up supper, put them to bed early, and have the rest of the night to yourselves without hiring a sitter or leaving the house.
Have Twice the Fun
Why go out or work alone when you can have someone else along for the ride? Trips to the grocery store are inevitable, and I'll be the first to admit that if I've got to shop for food and household items, I'd rather be alone and get it done as quickly and painlessly as possible. But if you are looking for ways to pack in some one-on-one time, just look at your calendar and arrange for one person to alternate going with you. Vice versa, have someone else take everyone in the house except for one, and let that one stay home with you. Do you ever take your children to practices? If you can take one child at a time, turn off the radio and cell phone and just talk as you drive. Dates with Mom or Dad are favorites of all our children, although these can take up more time and money.
The Rewards Are Many
Take a look at just some of the lasting effects these special times can have: mended relationships, strengthened bonds, intimacy, deep relationships, knowledge of a child's academic strengths and weaknesses, recognized social issues to deal with, improved marriage, spiritual growth, forgiveness, friendships, and on and on.
Beware of guilt. As I've noticed Satan bullying me in every area of life, he also can torment me when I fail at making time to be alone with my family members. Sick days, busy days, stressful days, and forgetful days do come along, and I put things before people. Hours pass, and I realize I've gone the whole day without even telling anyone I loved him, much less spent time alone with him. On other days, one child may seem like a squeaky wheel and hog all my time and energy. What's one to do? Do we let Satan find amusement in our distress? No! We just need to call for backup. We cry out to our Lord Jesus Christ to lift the burden and renew our strength, having faith that He will answer our prayers and give us the grace we need for the future.
Sometimes we make mistakes in relating to our kids and spouses. God forgives these mistakes, and our families can too. Our modeling of godly behavior can demonstrate to our families that we try to be fair, but at times one family member will take more of our time and energy. Another advantage of building in five minutes of alone time is that our children will have the security of our unconditional love while we teach them to love their other siblings, even when a particular sibling requires more of our attention.
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