Friday, February 5, 2010

One On One Time?

The Question:
(Amazingly, I, Natalie, did not pose this question. But being in a strikingly similar situation myself, I'm so glad it was asked.)

Hi Jane-
Any advice on finding quality time with each of your children individually, away from the other kids? My active, attention-demanding boys are 4, 3, 2, and 8 months, all with needs and often at the same time. I barely find time to escape for a shower let alone a girls night out, and there is always at least one kiddo fighting for my lap if I am reading to another one. I'm not always able to bring in outside help and my husband does have a job, so I need to figure out tricks to make that individual time happen. Thoughts? -Anonymous

The Answer:

You are really a wonderful person. With four sons under five, you are surely stretched as far as you can stretch---but you're trying to figure out how to give more. Please don't worry. It probably isn't realistic or even necessary to be all alone regularly with each child or to take them on individual outings at this age. Your children feel your personal love in little snatches all through the day. It's true, they have to share you, but they each have their own relationship with you. You have a light in your eyes for each one. They are part of a secure little society.

Find consistant moments of connection. I always tried to hold my children when they first woke up in the morning-- or from their naps-- for as long as they wanted. Usually it was only a few minutes and then they were off and playing. There are occasionally those miraculous moments when only one is up. Read a story together or play with toys. I'll bet you're already doing that.

Even though you can't lavish each one with unlimited, individual attention-- you've given them something better--eachother! This may not always seem like a benefit to them now, but as the years go by, there is nothing to compare with brothers. And as the years go by, you'll actually have more time and flexibility, even if you have more children. I loved Christina's comment on "Feeling Overwhelmed". Read it if you haven't had the chance.

I've enjoyed a great deal of one-on-one time with my children as they've grown older--but I've rarely had special nights out with them. I just take one along with me when I go to the store. I turn off the radio and we talk. I buy them a candy bar or an ice cream cone. We play a game of Yahtzee or I read them a chapter a night from an exciting book. We go for a walk. It's all very natural and inexpensive and I love it as much as they do. Just last Saturday, I went with my 15 year old son Seth to his High School basketball game. He invited me. These good moments are in your future.

So just know that you are doing enough. Your children have you with them every minute of every day (and all night too.) Everything is unfolding as it should.

All my love,


  1. You have no idea how comforting and relaxing that is. Thanks!

  2. WONDERFUL advice given here. Really, children just need to know you love them individually, and like Jane says, it happens in small snatches here and there. Often, we think the big things are the most important -- taking the kids out on individual dates or whatnot, but really, it's the small little things that make the difference -- a hug for the one who just got bonked, a reassuring word to the one who can't get the Legos to stack quite right, a little tickle to the grumpy one.

    And like Jane says, the relationships they have with each other will be something they can treasure for the rest of their lives. They might have periods where they bicker and fight a lot, but chances are, you're doing a good job of helping them learn to share and cooperate and appreciate each other, and that will pay off greatly in the future. My first five were born in five years, and now that they are ages 5-10, it is SO amazing to watch their maturity and fun relationships. Sure, they still have their moments of annoyance and frustration with one another, but they also really get along and support one another as friends. Hang in there -- it only gets better!

  3. Oh, and thanks for the compliment about my comment on the "overwhelmed" post.

    I think it's interesting that as moms, the hardest and most constant trials we all face are these three words: "overwhelmed" "exhausted" and "discouraged." I don't think men use those words even half as much as women do. =)


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