As our lives are inundated with to-do lists, household chores, meetings, and work, it can seem like there isn’t enough of the day to find time to get everything done let alone spend individually with your children. I am not talking about watching a movie with them or just being in the same room with them, I mean one on one complete undivided attention with your child. That means the cell phone is silence, the TV is off, no chores are being done, and all other distractions are ignored for a few precious minutes….15-20 minutes to be exact.
15 to 20 minutes of time with your child playing a game, hide and seek, doll house, dress up, legos, cars racing, running in the park, freeze tag, cooking, building something, whatever it is that your child and you can enjoy together. The power of this kind of time is astounding, especially on a child’s sleep!
Children know that they have our undivided attention at bedtime and if this is the only time of day that they get to spend with you, its understandable that they will want to keep it going as long as they can. So the idea behind one to one time is to fulfill up your child’s need for your attention during the daytime so he will be less likely to seek it at bedtime or in the middle of the night. This is not to replace a bedtime routine nor should it be done during the bedtime routine. Bedtime routines are very important for children but the purpose of bedtime routines are to help babies or children with the transition to sleep time. So while they are getting time with you during the bedtime routine, it should not be super interactive or playful time like it would be during the day.
So how do we do this one to one time? If you are a planner, schedule it in your day, make it a to-do, set a reminder on your phone, make it a priority. If you aren’t a planner, make sure it fits in your day somehow, some way. If you have more than one child it is best to give each child 15-20 minutes every day but if you can’t do that, try to be with each child every other day. It is most powerful when it is just one parent and one child at a time. If there are two parents in the household, take turns so that each child gets to spend this kind of time with one parent every day.
This kind of quality time will give your child the secure foundation he or she needs to take into the world, a relationship and attachment with you that will promote a healthy self esteem and independence, and a good night’s sleep for everyone!