5 Ways to Spend One-on-One Time with Your Kids and Why it's Important
- Heidi Vegh Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2021 8 Nov
Spending one-on-one time with our children is one of the most important things we can do. However, it can be challenging to accomplish, especially if you have multiple children. Family life is often riddled with commitments, bogged down by schedules, and can often feel overwhelming. However, getting this quality time doesn't have to feel like an obligation. I believe there are simple things you can do in your regular day to make your child feel special and heard. As parents, we must be intentional about treating our children how we hope they will treat others one day.
"...clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:10
1. Listen to Them
Our children long to be noticed and long to be heard. I often find it difficult to pay attention to one of my children if there is chaos in the house. My 10-year-old will be trying to show me something that he made, my 4-year-old is crying because she got an owie, and my teenagers are begging me to go to a friend's house, all while I'm stirring dinner on the stove and my phone is ringing. Overwhelming is putting it lightly. In those moments, I aim to remember that each one of them needs to be heard. After the chaos subsides, I try to connect with each of them, apologizing for the chaos, getting on their level, and asking them what they needed from me. Even if it is as mundane as a Lego creation, it is important to them, so it is important to me.
2. Set Aside 10 Minutes to Do Something They Want to Do
When children are young, it is often easy to find things to do together. You can play board games, play with their favorite toy, or play make-believe (my favorite is playing the floor is lava with my two littles). These are quality moments where we can let our adulthood go for a little while and simply enjoy our children. These are the things they will remember when they get older and hopefully instill in their children. When children become teenagers, it can be more challenging to find something to do together. I struggle with this with my two teenage sons. We don't share the same interests, and they would often rather be with their friends. I try to at least get them alone and ask about their day, go over their grades, or have them show me the newest video game. It doesn't matter what it is if they have your undivided attention.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Lordn
3. Schedule Date Nights
It can be difficult scheduling having fun with your child, putting it on the calendar, and most importantly, making it happen. But I am here to challenge you to make time. Find a small break in the schedule and write it down. If you have multiple children, give them one day a month on the calendar set aside just for them. If once a month is too much, sit down with your calendar and your kids and set aside time with each of them, with each parent over the next few months. This way, it is written down, and this gives your child a sense of importance and gives them something to look forward to. Our dates often involve dinner and window shopping or getting their favorite treat. It changes as they get older; maybe they would like to see a movie or go to a museum. Whatever you choose to do, it will be a cherished time. Be sure to take a selfie and hang it in their room so they can always remember how loved and cherished they are by you!
4. Take Advantage of Time in the Car
Now that the isolation of pandemic life has subsided and the busyness has returned, we are in the car more than ever. I'm sure, like mine, your teenagers want to reach for their phones, you may want to tune in to the latest podcast, and your littles would rather stare at a screen rather than the beauty out the window; however, I encourage you to turn it all down and put it all away. This is a valuable time to give each other the undivided attention that can be so lacking at home. Ask them about their day and be specific. I know I am often faced with the "it was good" or "I don't remember" answers, but don't stop there. Ask detailed questions. Kids often open when asked directly about specific things. If they are still a closed book, just keep trying. For my teenage boy, I know it has to be the right place and the right time for him to truly open for me. Each child is different, but we know our children best. Use the time in the car wisely. It is a precious time that we should cherish and will miss when they are gone.
5. Family Devotionals
There are so many great resources out there for family devotional time. Of course, just opening the Bible is the best, but finding a resource that can grab their attention or lead to specific topics can be beneficial. This is also a difficult thing to put on the schedule and requires intentionality. It is usually the spur of the moment for my family, right before bed or during family dinner. I have several books that I pull out, and I spend 5-10 minutes reading and asking questions. I pray that these small moments plant seeds in their hearts and give them nuggets of truth they can always hold on to. The world is very loud, but we as parents need to be louder!
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Estradaanton
Here are several books that I recommend for your family:
There are also several family devotionals on Crosswalk.
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6
All of this takes intentionality. We don't want to let these precious years slip away and live-in regret that we didn't take advantage of the treasured time. It is difficult as a parent to let other obligations go when our children need attention. I have learned over the years that I don't ever regret leaving the dishes in the sick, but I do regret missing an opportunity for connection. I have a ten-year age gap between my oldest and youngest. I can see now how fast the time does go; it is easier for me to break away to play barbies when I have a literal laundry list of things to do. I wish I had that perspective when my firstborn was small; I would have gotten down on the dirty floor, even more, to spend time with him. If this seems challenging or overwhelming and you feel stretched thin as it is, remember that we have a God that gives us strength. We were not created to go this alone; He will equip us to do what He has called us to do!
"Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure." Philippians 2:13 (The Message)
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Deklofenak
Heidi Vegh is a writer living in Gig Harbor, WA. She is a remarried mother of four, navigating the blended family life after the loss of her first husband to cancer in 2013. She longs to use her writing as a way to encourage others who have experienced loss and guide them on the road to healing. She contributes to her blog found at www.thebreathingmama.com, sharing stories and devotionals of faith stemming from her loss and healing, mothering, and her blended and complex family. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in Creative Writing and English and is working on her first book. When she is not writing she loves to travel, craft, and experiment in the kitchen. Visit her Facebook and Instagram (@breathingmamalife) to learn more.