Time alone – just one kid and one parent – is so valuable to children and families, but it can be so hard to come by. I know that on the rare occasion we manage to achieve this holy grail of parenting, the benefits are felt for several days – that child is happier and more relaxed, which then rubs off on the family as a whole. We have never programmed in time alone with the kids, but it is something I think we need to do.
With three kids with very busy schedules and two parents, one of whom works long hours, time alone is hard to come by. My younger son has time alone with Daddy on a Saturday morning. Sort of. Daddy is the football coach and my son is sharing him with around 10 other boys. I get time alone with my daughter in the short time it takes to drive to and from her many dance classes, but although it’s nice to chat for a few minutes without interruption from the boys, it’s not exactly quality time.
Recently my daughter was lucky enough to have a whole weekend with Mummy and Daddy while her brothers were on Scout camp. It wasn’t just any old weekend, either. We made sure it was a special weekend. When Mummy was at Britmums Live and the boys were on yet another Scout camp she had a nice trip to TGI Friday’s with Daddy. She’s also been to eat at her favourite fish and chip shop with Grandma and Grandpa recently.
My eldest was taken to Yo! Sushi by Grandma and Grandpa and he got his special birthday meal out with
Mummy and Daddy Mum and Dad recently. So he got his little bit of time alone.
There was just one person who didn’t get his time alone. The person who doesn’t shout so loudly, the person who doesn’t fight for everything, the person who is happy to go along with the majority. My younger son. In the past, he may not have noticed that his brother and sister were getting treats when he wasn’t. But he has noticed. Because his brother and sister have had treats from both Mummy and Daddy AND Grandma and Grandpa. It was important that he got his treat – and soon!
By some miracle, my eldest going out to celebrate his birthday with his friends coincided with my daughter being at a birthday party. For once in his life, my son was going to be at home with just his parents and no siblings. It would have been so easy to just have toast for lunch, but it was important that we did something for my son. So we let him choose where he wanted to go for lunch and what he wanted to eat. He chose a busy new cafe that none of us had visited before (but we will be visiting again), an all-day breakfast and the forbidden fruit of a bottle of Coke. The slow service would usually have been a pain, but on this occasion was a blessing. We got a whole hour and a half just with my younger son.
Two parents, one child and an all-day breakfast. Priceless.