My kids are starting to play well together. The 2-year-old is finally mature enough to interact with her brothers (ages 4 and 7) instead of automatically causing total havoc. This is the upside of having siblings close in age: constant playmates! Sometimes they play and entertain themselves and I get to just sit there. But there’s a lot of arguing too, and when I’ve got the whole crew, I feel like the dynamic is often me maintaining order, as opposed to interacting with and enjoying the kids. The 2-year-old also, inevitably, gets more attention than the others in these situations. That’s a function of her age, but also her personality. A quote the other day: “Mommy, I don’t like red.” Me: “OK, you don’t have to like red.” Her: “I don’t think there should be a red.”
So I’m trying to get in the habit of creating more one-on-one time with each child, particularly the older two. I know, from tracking my time, that I do spend time with them, but I want to be aware of it when it’s happening, so I seize opportunities to stretch it a little or see what the child wants to talk about. This one-on-one time just makes parenting more fun.
On Saturday I walked my 7-year-old to a friend’s birthday party. It was a 15-minute walk instead of a 2-minute drive, but we not only scored steps on the Fitbit, we got to discuss my 7-year-old’s occasional anxiety. He wasn’t sure who’d be at the party, and he was worried if I’d gotten it right that he should wear his swimsuit (it was a pool party). We talked that it was good to be interested in details — that’s a strength when it comes to school assignments and art projects. Worrying isn’t necessarily as helpful; as he pointed out to me, “It usually is OK.”
I drove the 4-year-old to a playdate on Friday, and I also took him swimming, solo. He’s getting so much better at swimming, and it was nice to be able to have him swim to me without also needing to keep an eye on the 2-year-old (who apparently, at the beach the other week, walked straight into the ocean — I’m not sure anyone was expecting that…) With three kids, all of this requires some logistical juggling. There needs to be another adult around. But it doesn’t seem to need to be much time in order to make the kids (and me) happier.
How do you create one-on-one time with your kids?
In other news: A new study claims that the right amount of time to spend with each direct report (for optimal engagement) is 6 hours per week. All this requires estimating, and any study has issues, but this suggests that people can’t effectively manage more than 6-7 people, which may be true.
Real Simple devotes an issue to the topic of laundry. I’ve been puzzling about Kristin van Ogtrop’s editor’s letter. She talks about hating laundry, and hating it more the more she does it. So my question: why is she doing it? There may be a blog post in this.
I stayed up late last night finishing Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings. Good stuff. My favorite image is her watching the wagon wheels cut a muddy road, after the rain, into “chocolate ribbons.”
Photo: We went to Dutch Wonderland this weekend. The rides were a hit, but so was the sandbox (naturally). For those of you in the Pennsylvania region, it’s a good alternative to Sesame Place.