Michael’s and Pokemon

photo-200In preparation for my brood expanding, I’m trying to build the habit of spending one-on-one time with each kid. The idea is to do something that the kid wants to do. Today happened to be a day I budgeted time with both boys. It was interesting to see what they picked.

My 4-year-old finally starts school tomorrow. Since our nanny has a class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, he and I had 2 hours together while the 2-year-old had school. I’d been talking about building and decorating a doll house, and he wanted to participate in that project. So we went to Michael’s to see what they had.

They didn’t have anything doll house or furniture related (anyone know a major store that does? Or do I need to order from a specialty store?). So we bought some art supplies instead, along with a dinosaur egg that hatches in water, and a pinewood derby kit. We came home, read some stories, and played a few computer games together until it was time to jump back in the car line.

My 7-year-old asked to have his time today as well. So after he was home from school and the little two were being entertained, I asked what he wanted to do. Did he want to work on a story together? He’s reading Harry Potter and has told me I should write a series like Harry Potter (oh kid, if only!) We’ve discussed various plot topics, and we wrote a short story the other night about some wind- and rain-breathing dragons who got kicked out of their herd in Canada, which preferred fire-breathing dragons for the warmth factor (they found useful employment among wind turbines and in a drought zone, in case you’re wondering).

But no. He wanted to watch TV together. It wasn’t quite the interactive activity I had in mind, but it was his choice, so I sat on the couch and watched an episode of Pokemon with him. I did not check my phone once. I think that was satisfactory, because he went back downstairs to play with the rest of the crew after.

Do you do individual dates with your kids?

In other news: Apparently I’m quoted in the new book Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs and Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang and Bluster of American Political Speech. I complain about the euphemism “leaving to spend more time with my family” and all the implications of the fact that it generally isn’t true.

25 thoughts on “Michael’s and Pokemon

  1. I definitely make time to spend with my older one because I think she specifically *needs* it. I try to make these “dates” things that we couldn’t do with the younger one – like a nicer restaurant (ie nicer than Red Robin), crafty time at our local museum, etc.

    The little one gets so much of our time and attention and a lot of 1:1 time while the older is hanging out with my parents this summer, so I haven’t yet set up 1:1 time with her, but I suspect we will once she’s 3 or 4.

    Good luck to you 🙂

    1. @ARC- thanks… The little ones do tend to naturally get it just because they are needier. Plus, in our case, she naturally has a more demanding personality apart from being 2. We’ll see how that all goes over when we have an even needier infant around the house!

  2. I definitely make 1:1 dates with each of my twins – I think it’s essential to also foster relationships with just that child, instead of there always being the family dynamic.

    My one is a quality time child anyway and that’s fine with me because as long as he’s just with me, he’s good 🙂

    1. @Marcia – yes, mine too are much better behaved when they get quality solo time with me. I know that a big part of sibling bickering is competing for resources, of which parental attention is often the scarcest one. That doesn’t necessarily make it easier to deal with, though…

  3. I only have two kids, so we spend quite a bit of time one-on-one just by happenstance. (When one kid goes to a friend’s house, I have the other kid to myself.) My daughter and I share mutual interests — we got up early one day to photograph a sunrise, for example. I have to work harder to involve my son. We typically don’t have an “activity” per se. He’s a talker and a deep thinker, so we just hang around and have great conversations. When he was little, we talked about the greater meaning of Pokemon and the merits of Hot Wheels over Matchbox cars. Now that he’s a teen, he talks about social issues, politics and high school life. Other moms are surprised that my son confides in me, but that time spent listening to things like Pokemon and other minutia created that bond.

    When they were in elementary school and younger, we read books together and then my husband and I took turns sitting with each child before bed. My kids called this “recapping the day.” Now that they’re older and busy, I often go to bed before they do and read. They’ll often sit on my bed and talk before going to their own rooms.

    On Mother’s Day, I ask that each child think of something nice for us to do together. Last year, my daughter and I went to a bookstore and had lunch. My son and I usually do something outdoorsy and he helps my husband grill/prep the meal. I’m hoping this sets a tradition where they will spend time with me when they are grownups and busy with their own lives.

  4. I do have one-on-one time with our girls since our oldest one started preschool. We go to the library,walk around the block,play outside or watch her favorite movie together.I think it really helps when one goes to school unlike before when both were with me all the time,finding individual time was hard.

  5. I find that one on one time out of the house is one of the trickiest things to fit into our schedule. During the week my kids are apart for most of the day (and apart from me most of the day too). They are probably together 1 hour in the morning and 2 hours in the evening and that is all the time that we are home (the rest of the time they are at school/daycare and I am at work). On the weekends we try to spend time as a family because that is the only significant chunk of time we have to do family activities. They get one on one time at home when one of them engages me to do something and the other one is playing by himself. So it naturally comes and goes over the day. However, I haven’t done a lot of one on one time out of the house with each kid individually. My kids do have summer birthdays so on their birthday they get to stay home with Mom and Dad while their brother has to go to camp/daycare. That’s really are only regularly scheduled “date.”

    1. @beth – I think with one-on-one time out of the house it’s about recognizing that it doesn’t have to happen that frequently. You mostly want to spend weekends on family activities, but once a month you could squeeze something in with each kid.

  6. Yes, I do. I tend to do it on Wednesday afternoons because that fits my work schedule well and Wednesdays are half days at my older daughter’s school. I probably do this with each of my two kids two times a year- so it isn’t frequent. But they LOVE it. I always let them choose what to do on their special afternoon, and so far they always choose “go to the zoo.” I’m not sure why, but we’re members and the San Diego Zoo is a really nice place to spend an afternoon, so I’m not complaining!
    On the doll house front: have you tried googling for a store near you? I know of a small independent doll house supply store near me, and I saw one in Torrance (I think). They seem to be labors of love.

    1. @Cloud – they are probably labors of love. I can’t imagine a miniatures store being all that profitable an enterprise… I love the San Diego zoo. It was great, and you’re fortunate to be so close to such a great place to bring the kids!

  7. For dollhouse stuff, I think you need to find an independent store (there aren’t many, but they do exist), or look online. Even big hobby stores don’t seem to carry miniatures anymore.

  8. I am a huge believer in one on one time with each child. I actually try for at least 10-15 minutes of “special time” with each child per day, unless I’m out of town for work, like I am today. This usually happens around bedtime, and we have somewhat of an overly laborious bedtime routine for that reason. At the beginning of the summer, my husband and I instituted a “date night” rotation that allows each child to have one on one time with a particular parent every 3 weeks. It works like this: Week #1 – my husband takes out child #1 for about 1-1.5 hrs; Week #2 – I take out child #2; Week #3 – my husband takes out child #3; Week #4 – I take out child #1 and so forth. The kids LOVE it. I can’t say we’ve managed to do it every single week since we’ve started, but we’ve been reasonably successful, and I see overall improvement in their behaviour and bickering as a result. Worth the investment. As I can see from my friends with older kids, these young children grow into older children that don’t necessarily crave their parents’ attention in the same obvious way, and you better have built up a good foundation for your relationship by that point!

    1. @Rinna – bedtime does seem like a good time for it. We’re still trying to figure that out. Often by bedtime I am so done that it’s hard to muster the energy for interaction beyond “Get back in bed!”

  9. Not yet, but it’s definitely something I think about with baby #2 on the way. I know I’ll get a lot of alone time with BB#2 while DS is at daycare, but I worry about getting special time with DS while BB#2 is tiny.

    1. @Chelsea – that was one of the reasons we had a lot of help when the third baby came. Partly, I was tired of doing everything myself, but also, I got to spend time with my boys too. I’m trying to figure out baby nurse options around here (the one who came last time is no longer available…)

    2. This was a big deal for me when #2 was born – I really felt like I was missing out on so much of #1s life. It definitely got better after the first 8 weeks or so, but I had to consciously try to figure out time for us to hang out without the baby.

    1. @Katherine – I’m not sure we have a Hobby Lobby around here, but ebay would work. I’m sure I could find stuff online, I just assumed a big craft store would carry such things. Guess not… Though I am entertaining fun thoughts of shopping at Hobby Lobby, and posting photos of it on Facebook. I have such a mix of friends politically that it would be fun just to watch the results.

  10. At this point, unfortunately, the one on one time tends to happen when one child is sick or has an appointment of some sort (Monday I took younger son to an afternoon Dr appt, so we got home early, went to the park, had an early dinner, etc…). I get a lot of time with my older son when younger one naps on weekends. And younger one gets up earlier most days, so he gets that time with us. They are so close in age, they mostly want to do all the same things.
    I like Rinna’s idea, above, of weekly dates, alternating between kids/parents.

    1. @Ana- I like that idea too. I go back and forth on formalizing it (I think that could lead to hard feelings when it doesn’t happen) but at the moment I’m sort of making it happen without it being too formal, so we’ll see how this goes.

  11. I don’t worry about scheduling time with my toddler, as he gets a lot of my attention by default. I have however informed him that we can have Special Time if he stays in his bed and doesn’t call me at night. hasn’t happened yet.

    The big kid and I just instituted a Wed afternoon hangout when her brother is still in daycare. Not a huge time investment–45 min–and probably won’t happen every week. But today it was frozen yogurt and the library and a really nice way to acknowledge she’s put up with a really crabby parent lately@

    1. @gwinne- the Wednesday afternoon date sounds nice. And yes, it doesn’t take much time. Pokemon was like half an hour! But they do seem to appreciate it.

  12. Thoroughly enjoy your posts. My “children” are far older than yours (mine are at the high school/leaving home stage) but yours is one of the few blogs I read – good tips, even at my stage in life, and I think there is a nostalgic element for me with some of the issues. More to the immediate point, I live in Canada – please tell your son I LOVE the poor dragons kicked out of the herd theme – you’re right, we’d prefer a fire capacity up here. As to the dollhouse issue, I recently found one in an in-law’s basement – 100 years old – built by a relation at the turn of the century. I redid it, wiring, wallpaper etc. Got all of my products from the company whose website I’ve attached – they ship in the US – HUGE range of products – all they do is dollhouses – terrific stuff, furniture, kits, wallpapers in miniature, everything you could ever want (even miniature Christmas trees, pets and rubber ducks for the bath!). You get what you pay for. Not a user friendly website (I live near their store) but great products (and, no, I don’t get a commission for saying this!). http://www.thelittledollhousecompany.com/dollhouses-miniatures-furniture-kits/index.php?main_page=page&id=5

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