“One-on-one time lets kids know they are very important. Your kids know your calendar is jammed, and they also know how you choose to spend your free time. If you carve out regular time with them—just the two of you—that makes a big statement, and tells them they are a priority to you.” (Fathers.com)
You know that spending time with your child is important and perhaps you worry that you can’t dedicate enough one-on-one time when life gets hectic. If that sounds familiar, then this article by VeryWellFamily.com offers both reassurance and recommendations.
First, make quality time (rather than quantity) your goal. Worry less, the article suggests, about being physically together for hour after hour. Instead, when you are with your child, be fully, mentally present. Listen to what your child is saying, make eye contact, and create positive interactions.
Quality time can involve coloring a picture together or going for a walk. It can mean that the two of you talk about your child’s day while you prepare dinner. Some parents find that scheduling specific times together helps, perhaps before school or right after. If that works for you, mark this time on your calendar, just like you would any other important appointment. For other families, more spontaneous approaches work better.
Still, other families find that planning a monthly afternoon event or enjoying Saturday morning errands together works well. Different families will likely find different solutions—and that’s okay.
Children aren't necessarily experts at winding down one activity and getting ready for another (especially if it’s bedtime that’s next on the agenda). In fact, as ChildMind.org notes, if your child needs transition time and it isn’t given, they can “whine, stall, or throw tantrums.”
Providing them with enough time to transition from one activity to another can smooth out the changes in schedule. In other words, give your child enough time to absorb what you’re asking them to do and to respond appropriately.
Create routines for regular transitions, which can include getting ready in the morning, doing homework, and getting ready for bed. In the morning, share an overview of the day’s schedule. Then, before it’s time to transition from one activity to the next, give them a heads-up, such as, “Playtime needs to end in ten minutes so everyone can start their homework” or “We’ve got twenty minutes left before the school bus arrives.”
When you’re sharing a transitional message, make sure you have your child’s full attention. This can involve sitting down next to them and making eye contact. You could also ask them to repeat what you said to ensure they understand the message. Praise your child when they transition well.
Each child is unique, and some become overwhelmed more easily than others. That feeling can lead to misbehavior. If you spot that coming, suggest that your child take a break in a designated area, such as a beanbag chair. This isn’t the same as a time-out given as a punishment. This can help your child to learn when they need a break without prompting.
Stressed-out parents may wonder why a small child—who doesn’t yet have big responsibilities—would need time to unwind, but they do. Children encounter plenty of new situations, and they need to learn how to handle themselves well in each of these scenarios.
A Note About Schedules
Whether we’re talking about a child’s daily routine schedule or how a parent ensures one-on-one time with a child, schedules don’t need to be fancy to work. They just need to be clear and workable for your family’s situation while providing a healthy structure for the children and parents alike.