One-on-One time (read about our very full day here)
I had multiple times during the day when I did an activity with just one of them. Honestly, I didn't plan most of it but it worked beautifully. After all, I do have some large age gaps of 9,5 and 3 years old. Their concentration abilities differ, their cognitive and motoric skills differ and planning one activity that can suit all three is sometimes ludicrous. Unstructured play time is not one of those times where you need to individualize based on their personal abilities and characteristics- they will learn a lot from one another as well. BUT, “Using a homogenized approach that fits all our kids works about as well as the "one-size-fits-all" sweaters fit our bodies” (Pruit, Kyle).
In times of emotional distress we often feel the need to make sure we are spending time with each and everyone of our children to make sure their needs are being met and their anxieties, if present, are being noticed and heard. When I am alone with my older one I tell him stories that I wouldn't share with my girls quite yet, I will tell him about my day. He starts telling me about specific friends and his fears. It's a time when I can hold his hand and no other younger sibling will claim it to be their turn to hold mommy's hand.
Why is one-on-one time important? How do you make sure it happens during social distancing?
A time for them to be heard. Every night now, our kids come into bed with us. We are sure it is because of their stresses (normally they don't come in!) but they have no way of telling us because of their developmental stage of emotional intelligence. We still know it, right? You know when something is bothering your kid emotionally. When given them the time of day they believe they are valued and treasured by us. Don’t forget, it doesn't matter what you are doing as long as it is alone. With my son, I chose physical activity because he can run and play soccer as well as I can if not better and he needs it as much as I do! Also, I am very aware this choice may change for us.
Don't only use it when you see they are in so much stress and unable to control outbreaks and sadness. Use it as a preventative measure for emotional distress. Use it so your relationship with each individualized child can remain a relationship and not only the family relationship. When your children believe you have them in your mind again they feel valued and loved by you. (Of course there are times when you can't do this- don't be too hard on yourself during those times either) Make it only as consistent as you can fit it (once a month is still something). Right now, that could be quite a lot. Sometimes one child seems to need it more than others. That is fine as long as it changes, and your other children get that close attention from you too.
While doing your one-on-one time there is no need for a structured activity. Letting it flow is sometimes the best way to really get out of it what you both need. If scheduling an activity helps you then by all means.
During COVID 19- I know it's hard on us. Today for instance, I had few breaks because the kids had different screen times but honestly, I loved every minute (says my tired bones and muscles). You could do it this way in one day and have them each separate hours or you could schedule alone time once a day for one child. They would know then to expect it but then you have to follow through!
Today was a very productive day. You may read and see pictures about what we did here!