How I’m creating One-on-One Time with Four Kids

I have never had one child.

The Good Lord tossed me twins from the get-go and said, “Have fun!” (and oh, we have!), but I have a very real, deep-seated curiosity about moms who have only one child, or who had a few years of one on one time with their oldest before baby number 2 came along.

My time, focus and energy have always been divided between multiple children and it has only gotten more challenging since we’ve added boy 3 and boy 4 to the mix.

But I love my kids, and even more than that, I like them (most of the time). But I like them more when we are able to enjoy some Quality Time together. A few moments away from the chaos of four kids reminds me, “Hey you’re a pretty cool person. I’m glad you’re mine.”

But it’s tough, because there are four of them and one of me, but also because I define Quality Time as “time spent together where we are BOTH enjoying the activity.”

Quality Time means I have to have fun too. As I choose to create Quality Time with my kids, my happiness matters as much as theirs, so that narrows down the activities to just a handful, but I think taking my fun-quotient into consideration is important because mutual happiness is essential to building a solid foundation for our relationship.

So, here are few ways I’m striving to create Quality one-on-one time with my four kids on a regular basis:

1. Chess
Micah (9) loves playing chess! Both of us are getting better (Micah more so because he’s in Chess Club at school too!) and we both have FUN while playing.
He’s started beating me on a regular basis, but has also learning to be a gracious loser, give compliments, develop strategy, practice self-control, and strengthen a whole host of other character qualities that I want to instill in him as his mom.
It’s a win-win.
We play chess 4-5 times a week and it is Quality Time well spent.

2. Reading
Silas (4) is my middle child and is most prone to get lost in the shuffle (poor middle child. I feel you, son. I’m the middle of 5 kids!). But every day, after Eli goes down for his nap, we spend 10-15 minutes cuddling on the couch reading together.
This is just Mommy and Silas time. It’s short but special because we both enjoy reading together (something I struggle to do with my twins. We’re working on it) and I look forward to this time each day.

3. Errands
While I usually jump at the chance to run errands by myself, I’ve found that when I am able to take one child with me to the grocery store (or, for Aaron, to Lowes or Home Depot), it is solid Quality Time.

The lucky child gets mom or dad all to himself and gets to chat, share his mind, and ask questions to his heart’s content—no interruptions fro his brothers.

Errands with Dad also means a treat too—a shared cherry pie from Kroger or splitting a bag of peanut M&Ms (Mommy is not as nice as Daddy…but sometimes I get treats too!).

It may not always be convenient or easy, but taking a child along for the ride is solid Quality Time for both of us.

4. TV time
Since I weaned Eli recently, I’ve missed the one-on-one time I had during our nursing sessions. But, my baby boy (ok, ok…I know he’s two! But still…!) still likes Mama-Time when he wakes up from his nap.
I don’t do it every day but we both enjoy snuggles on the couch while Eli drinks a warm bottle and watches Chuggington on Netflix.

Benji also enjoys TV time with me. Quality time with Benji is a challenge (his Autism is part of it) because he likes playing by himself and doesn’t enjoy conversation as much as I do.
But, when I carve out time to sit and watch Pokemon (or another show) on TV with him, snuggling close to him on the couch (he is selective about his snuggles), it means a lot to him.
I don’t really enjoy kids shows so my Quality Time definition gets stretched here but the trade-off of seeing how much it means to Benji is worth it.
I don’t get/make/create quality time with all four kids every day. Sometimes, on the days it does happen, Quality Time is only 10-15 minutes.

But those minutes—reading, watching TV, playing chess or running errands—are purposeful, productive, and meaningful. It’s helping me build a solid relationship with my boys, one QT session at a time.

What about you?
How do you define Quality Time?
How do you create quality time with your kids on a regular basis? (What does “regular” mean to you? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?)
Share your ideas below or on Facebook!

PS. I played Chess with my son…here’s why it was a big deal
We read Harry Potter! (and why it’s a big deal!)
The Day I missed my son

2 Comments

  1. I only have two boys, but we’re trying to get more intentional with quality one-on-one time too, and it’s definitely hard when there’s only one of me! The solution we’ve found that works best (derived from the “Mind Body Soul Time” from Positive Parenting Solutions) is that after dinner, when Daddy is home, he takes one boy either upstairs or downstairs, and I take the other to a different floor, and we spend 10-15 minutes doing whatever the kid wants to do for special Mommy&Me/Daddy&Me time, and then switch. It’s amazing the difference just those few minutes a day makes in the overall happiness and peacefulness of the evening, no matter how crazy the activities are! I’ve also noticed that it really helps bedtime go smoother when they’ve had that positive one-on-one attention from both parents in the evenings.

    • I love that idea! We’ve done a version of that in the past where my husband takes the two little boys while I read to the two big boys in the evenings.

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