In a family with five kids, having quality one-on-one time with them can be challenging. I will admit that on a daily basis, they get a few moments of one-on-one, but not usually big chunks of time all to themselves. In order to guarantee a little more individual face time, Jared and I try to take them out on a lunch date one at a time. We are not consistent with it-- it seems to happen more in spurts-- but it is something that our kids really look forward to.
As long as it is reasonable, we let them choose the venue for their date. Sometimes a kid chooses to grab some fast food and go to the park together. The older boys like to choose a restaurant where they can get dessert or chips and salsa (or both). Bronwen prefers a cupcake date.
This Friday, it was Ian's turn for some one-on-one. He picked me (Jared usually gets these dates) and said he wanted to have lunch at Bel Air, our local grocery store. I was really in the mood for restaurant food, but we only had an hour before we needed to be home, and I reminded myself that this was HIS date, not mine, so off we went.
We perused their prepared lunches section. I chose a roast beef and fontina sandwich on a sourdough roll, Ian found a little lunchbox with a turkey sandwich, goldfish, applesauce, and a juice box. We also grabbed his favorite potato chips (gotta love Lay's), some shortbread cookies from the bakery, which we planned to share with the others when we returned, and a doughnut for him. Okay, so I never claimed that these dates were healthy.
We sat outside at a little bistro table and Ian talked my ear off. If you know Ian, that wouldn't surprise you one bit; but what surprised me is that he dropped the goofy act that he often uses to get attention. He wasn't babbling nonsense, he didn't use baby talk-- no signs of the silly personality he uses with the family (except when the camera came out). Instead, he talked about things that interested both of us. He told me all about school and his classroom (his favorite part is his teacher, he said), about new friends he has made, and about ways that he has gone out of his way to be kind to other kids in his class.
It was a delightful hour spent, and it reminded me how much we both needed some extended one-on-one time with each other. It also allowed me to peek at a side of my own son that I don't get to see often enough. I am so proud of the young man that he is becoming.
How do you meet the challenge of giving your kids one-on-one attention? Tell me I am not the only one who struggles with this!