One-on-one time. That highly desired time with your children that is touted to make all the difference in their lives. It’s like the rainbow unicorn of motherhood—magical and elusive. Everyone wants to find it, but no one seems to know how.
Like all moms, I want very much to spend time connecting with each of my four children. Eye contact. Meaningful conversations. Shared experiences. Memories they’ll take into adulthood and golden moments to shape them as people. That’s what we’re all after, isn’t it?
We’ve got some additional demands in our home including homeschool and special needs that seem to make this desire even harder to grasp. Being home with my children all day might imply that we spend a lot of time together, and we do. But the kind of time I’m talking about—those sweet, meaningful moments that make deposits into their emotional bank account—those are few and far between and rarely come organically. Like all moms, I struggle with guilt over everyone getting enough.
Enough of me.
When our youngest was a baby, we went through a rough patch with nursing. In desperation, I called the mother of one of my best friends who is a lactation consultant. Not only did she help me and my daughter get back on track with nursing, but she tossed in this little, unrelated gem after asking how the other kids were doing.
“When our kids were little we would do ‘Kid of the Week’ and they got to make decisions about what snack to eat and things like that.” She said it so casually I could have missed it—I almost did—except my gnawing desire to bond more with each child heard her loud and clear.
After I hung up the phone I couldn’t get that phrase “Kid of the Week” out of my mind. Something in my checklist-loving mind clicked. What if each kid had his or her own week? Not in a popularity contest sort of way or in a way that would create jealousy, but a unique time carved out that they could expect and look forward to.
The overall concept is this: The child who is “Kid of the Week” gets some specific focus, attention, and responsibility for that week.
Here’s How It Works…
The child has certain privileges:
- Gets one-on-one time with mom
- Gets a dad hangout that week
- Chooses the movie for movie night
- Gets to make plans with a friend
- Acts as the decision maker if there’s a disagreement amongst siblings
- Chooses Saturday night dinner
And the child has certain responsibilities:
- Says the prayer for us at mealtime
- Takes care of any miscellaneous tasks that I need help with
How This Has Simplified My Life
Two kids can eat dairy and the other two can’t. No problem. One-on-one ice cream date with dad.
Kids always fight over what movie to watch on movie night? Not anymore. Kid of the Week chooses.
Need someone to help you with an errand or chore? Kid of the Week.
The other thing to consider is that these privileges are only for Kid of the Week. That means the other kids do not get those privileges (like having a friend over) so it’s something they really look forward to. It also helps me tame the chaos that comes when everyone wants to do something.
Kid of the Week makes them feel set apart and is a reminder to carve out some time and put that child at the front of my mind.
The Fruits of Having a Kid of the Week
In addition to simplifying my life a little, I feel like I’m truly connecting with my children now on a meaningful basis. Those little moments we steal away together during their dedicated week have added up and I can sense it in our relationship with one another. Sometimes our one-on-one time is spent reading a book together. Other times we run errands or go for a walk. Sometimes we just tuck away somewhere together and that child gets my full attention—he just talks away and I listen without distraction. Undivided attention is a rare gift in a house of six people!
The time paid in is paying off. We enjoy each other more. Our bond is stronger. The conflicts are fewer. We have been able to hit the pause button on our culture’s fast forward lifestyle, at least a few times a week. A little scrapbook of memories is being created in each child’s heart—building blocks that sustain and strengthen him emotionally—and the memories have become treasured photographs on mine.
QUESTION: How can you fit in more one-on-one time with your child?
CHALLENGE: Determine if something like “Kid of the Week” would work in your household and make a plan to implement it in your family.
Edited by Nollie Haws and Kimberly Price.
Image provided by the author.