See, this particular daughter is the quietest child I have. She's also very thoughtful and sensitive and somehow, she can be overlooked. Not that we mean to do it; it's just that she's not usually as boisterous as the others and, even when upset, will quietly sulk in the background, saying nothing. I don't love her one bit less than I do the others! But, it's true, "The squeaky wheel gets the oil." Doing something as simple as baking cookies with her and allowing her to work with mommy all by herself made her feel so special.
So, what to do when you feel pulled between all of your children and wind up missing a subtle hint from one of them that something is wrong, or that they need some one-on-one time? Schedule it! I had never heard of this concept until someone told how Susanna Wesley used to be sure to set some time apart every day to spend with each of her children. And, considering how Susanna Wesley's children turned out, I figure I can learn something from her!
Whether it's washing the dishes together (sometimes it's easier for little ones to talk if their hands are busy), going out for a treat, or simply snuggling on the couch while the other children are otherwise occupied in another part of the house, it's a good idea to try to set aside a slot of time for each child so they can have your undivided attention. He or she needs to know that they haven't been lost in the shuffle, and that they matter as an individual.
I want to be sure that I don't miss an opportunity to really know my children; to understand how they think and what their interests are. Spending time with each child alone makes it easier for that child to be himself or herself, and to express thoughts and feelings that they would otherwise be too embarrassed or self-conscious to mention.
One-on-one time with Dad is important, too! Something that we've tried to do (and need to start again) is to schedule a "Date with Dad" once or twice a month when my husband takes one of our girls on a "date". Our daughter gets to choose where they go to eat, (usually fast food) and they might get to shop a little bit, too. Now, my son is old enough to go on a "guy's night out" with his daddy. :) By making this effort, our children get to spend some time with each parent alone, and it helps to build a stronger relationship.
Do you have any ideas for how to make one-on-one time with your child even more special? Please share!
Jessica is a follower of Jesus Christ, the wife of an amazing husband, and the mother of four children who are the loves of her life. She is passionate about homeschooling, enjoys spending time with her family more than anything else, would rather buy a new book than new clothes, is always starting on a diet, and thinks that chocolate is the next-best medicine to laughter. Other than reading, her favorite hobbies are music, decorating, blogging, and making attempts at photography. She blogs about this, that, and the other at www.itsthelittlethings4.