Not too long ago, I experienced a serious wake-up call.
No, I’m not talking about the mistaken 5 am wake-up Mr. Big(Ideas) and I were graced by last fall, the one weekend we managed to get away without our kids, you know, in hopes of maybe just once in the entire calendar year sleeping a few minutes past 8 am. (Dear Reception Lady: I apologize if we were a little gruff.)
I’m talking about a slightly more metaphorical wake-up — though now that I think of it, it’s kind of literal, too, as I was still in bed when this happened, snuggling Diddy before school, and these WERE basically the words that … umm … woke me up.
Let me set the scene:
INT. MASTER BEDROOM — TEN MINUTES BEFORE THE ALARM
As per usual, there is a small child smashed uncomfortably against me, pushing me to the very edge of the bed, despite the fact that we have a King mattress and there are positively ACRES of space for the small child — today’s small child being Diddy — to claim as her own. Nope. She wants MINE.
(muttering, eyes screwed shut)
It’s not morning yet.
Yes it is. The sun’s here.
Mom, I hope Gaga’s sick today.
(fuck — can’t really let THAT
go without addressing it)
Why do you hope Gaga’s sick today?
Because if Gaga’s sick, then you and me can have private Diddy-Mommy time on the way to school.
And I’m up.
So yeah, I hear you if finding one-on-one time for you and any one of your children on any sort of regular basis is a regular challenge. God knows it is for me — especially since I purposely choose activities for my kids based on the singularly important criterion of them ALL BEING ABLE TO DO THEM IN THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME.
I mean, I am trying to STREAMLINE my life, folks. That’s the whole point of this blog!
But apparently the kids want more from Mama. Or rather — they want LESS, and the LESS they want MORE OF is their brothers and sisters. Which has had me thinking long and hard about how to make more one-on-one time for me and each of my kids, which isn’t the world’s easiest thing to do considering the adults in my house are outnumbered 2:1 and it’s not like Mr. Big(Ideas) and I can divide-and-conquer like we used to before the boys were born, each enjoying a few hours of 1:1 time.
Here’s what I’ve come up with thus far. It’s not brain science. In fact, it’s not really THAT MUCH one-on-one time … instead, I’ve tried to figure out how to give each kid what he or she needs from me, within the parameters of what we already seem to do at Checklist Casa.
ChecklistMommy’s Quality Time (Not Quantities of Time) List:
1. Early Morning Cuddles count.
Whomever gets to Mom’s bed first wins that day’s morning dose of just-me-and-Mom-time. Right now, Diddy seems to get there first most mornings, so I cut myself some slack if she loses out on Mom-time at other parts of the day.
2. Bedtime counts.
A few minutes of alone-time at bedtime goes a LONG WAY with kids. In a perfect world, each kid would get a solid 5 minutes or so after lights-out for cuddles and confidences. In the actual world, though, I tend to work nights, so more often than not, I leave the bedtime stuff to Mr. Big(Ideas). Since that conversation with Diddy, however, I’ve been trying harder — but when it doesn’t happen, I cut myself MORE slack, and count that night’s bedtime as valuable one-on-one Dad-time for the kids.
3. Watching TV counts.
Yeah, I’d rather be doing about a billion other things than watching NickJr at all, ever. But I have recently realized that if I hug any of my kids while they are zoned out in front of Mike the Knight, they think that’s Mom-time. Even if the other kids are sitting there too, weirdly enough — but only if the other kids aren’t ALSO piled on top of me. So I practice stealth-cuddles in front of the TV. If the boys are amusing themselves on the floor, and Diddy is arranged on the one corner of the couch that allows viewing the screen without window reflections obscuring the picture, I sneak-cuddle Gaga.
4. Parent-Kid Dates really count.
Sure, one of us gets stuck with three kids when the other high-tails it out of there with one. But that’s SUPER HUGE Mom/Dad-time points … Even if the one kid is just headed to the market with me, or Dad.
5. Playdates FOR THE OTHER KIDS count.
Gaga loves it when I arrange for other parents to pick Diddy up from school, because that means she’s got me to herself for a few hours between the time when I go get her at school, and when we go pick up her sister. This works vice-versa now, too, which is awesome.
6. Believe it or not — Team-worked Chores count.
This one is shocking but true. I helped both girls clean out their closets AND de-clutter their toys last week, one-on-one, and they were literally blissed out the entire time. Beach-in-Bali bliss. It was nuts.
7. Twin Trick: Divvy-ing up the Classes counts.
Some moms drag both twins to music class each week. Me? I take one, alternating between the boys week by week. That way, I get one-on-one time with each kid, each week, and I only pay for ONE SPOT at the music class, since we’re only taking up ONE SEAT on a weekly basis. I think I’m a GENIUS for that one, personally.
How do you create one-on-one time for you and your kids?