One of the trickiest things about having a lot of little ones is managing one on one time with kids. With 5 kids, it’s no joke to give individual attention to each child.
We struggled for years trying to figure out how to work that individual time with kids into our family’s schedule. It felt tricky and overwhelming! Finally, a few years ago we started doing “special time.” It’s simple enough that we actually make it happen regularly, and it’s special enough that our kids look forward to it all week. Here’s how it works!
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Benefits of One on One Time with Kids
Because life gets busy, it can feel difficult to connect with each kid. I want to make sure we’re keeping those lines of communication open, though, especially as they get into tween and teen years. I find that they really love their siblings and playing with them. So when we spend time as a family, they often connect well with each other, but they don’t end up conversing with the grown ups quite as much.
Our one on one time makes it so they have that time dedicated to just them! It seems most kids don’t tend to open up well when we just start asking them about their lives. But when we’re in the middle of a fun activity together, they naturally open up and start chatting. It’s so great.
How to Do One on One Time with Kids
With any number of kids, it can feel tricky to carve out time to focus on them individually. There’s always work and laundry and meals and cleaning, not to mention school and chores and music practice!
About 3 years ago, we started doing “special time.” It’s such a simple and easy way to carve out some one on one time with kids!
Our Special Time Routine
Our kids go to bed fairly early – our 11 month old, 3 year old, and 6 year old all go to bed around 7:30. We generally have family time until then, with dinner, reading, scripture study, and bedtime routine.
After that, our older two can stay up reading quietly on their own for a bit longer. (Our 8 year old can read until 8pm, and our 10 year old can read until 8:30pm.) They’re generally plenty tired by that point and fall asleep easily.
This means our nights aren’t taken over by kid time, and we’re free to do our own thing by 7:30. That also makes it easy for each of our kids to have special time once a week without everyone else being awake and needing attention.
One On One Time with Kids Schedule
While once a week isn’t super frequent, it’s enough that our kids really look forward to “their” day, and manageable enough that we actually make it happen!
Each of our kids has one night per week when they get 30-60 minutes (depending on age) of “special time” starting at around 7:30 when everyone else is either in bed or reading quietly on their own. During this time, they can choose whatever activity they want to do with either one or both parents. We try to both be available, but sometimes one of us has another commitment (or I’m nursing the baby).
Either way, it’s a fun and relaxed one on one time with kids that we can do right at home.
Special Time Activities
During special time, our kids can choose whatever activity they want to do with the parents, so long as it isn’t on a screen. The most common thing they choose is a board game (here’s a list of our favorites!). They also love to play LEGOs or Magna Tiles or read books together.
Occasionally, they’ll ask to have a dance party, make a treat, or go on a bike ride/play on the trampoline/play basketball (those options obviously work better in the summer months when it stays light out longer).
On some rare occasions, we’ll let them watch part of a special movie. For instance, after our kids finish reading all the Harry Potter books, they can then watch the movies. But since the younger ones can’t watch them yet, it makes it tricky to do them during family movie night. So they’ve occasionally gotten to watch only the first three movies (the rest are too old for them right now) in pieces for special time.
Special Time Treat
During special time, the kids also get to have a small treat. This could be sharing a bottle of root beer, or maybe some ice cream. It doesn’t have to be fancy to feel special and fun!
That’s it! It’s super easy, and it’s been one of the best ways for us to connect individually with our kids. That individual attention for kids is so valuable, especially as they get older. I hope that by keeping it simple, we’ll be able to continue it for a long time to come!
I’d love to hear – do you do something like special time with your kids? What does it look like? What activities do you do?
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