Jay Palter explains why it’s crucial to have one-on-one alone time with each of your children.
When you’ve got young twins like me – a boy and a girl – most activities are done together. That’s how I describe the benefits of twins to people: most of the time, I say, it’s not double the work because the kids are at the same age and with that comes some associated “parenting efficiencies”.
But there’s nothing like spending some quality one-on-one time with each of your kids—whether you have twins or not.
Everyone benefits from the full attention of a one-on-one relationship – and I’m not only talking about parenting here. No matter what your profession, quality face time goes a long way. It builds trust and personal connection. Look someone in the eye and genuinely listen to what they are saying. It builds intimacy and engagement.
It’s the same with your kids. They need the connection time with you – it validates them and reinforces their self-esteem and confidence. Same for you, as a parent. Once your kids reach an age when they can engage in conversation, you can get huge benefits from this interaction with them.
Every kid is different, so find an activity that works for both of you – something you can do together, but not too involved. You want some downtime – to talk and interact. It’s easy to get into the habit of being together but not interacting.
I find a hike or an easy walk is perfect. My son likes climbing walks, so we headed out the other day to climb a small mountain behind our house. He was almost bubbling with excitement as we found a walking stick and used a rock to strip it of bark and reveal a smooth natural handle. When it started to rain, we took shelter under a tree in a little, natural “fort”. We talked and laughed. He told me some jokes and we reviewed our vacation activities to date. We breathed the fresh air and enjoyed the spectacular views together.
He told me at least a couple of times in those two hours that he really enjoyed being alone with me – and my heart filled with joy. My kid enjoys being with me as much as I do him – and he even told me! I cherish these times because I know as they age, they grow independent and more self-conscious of their parental affections. And that, I have to admit, will be a bit heartbreaking.
So, until then, I’m making time for walks and alone time with my kids – whenever I can. It’s good for our souls.
Image of father and son hiking courtesy of Shutterstock