Monday 19 March 2012

One-on-one time

I'm pretty bad at the whole "one-on-one time" with my kids. It sounds so nice in theory, but in practice it tends to involve a lot of sobbing on the part of the child left behind. And then I feel guilty and I let them both come and so much for one-on-one time. Again.

But this weekend I was determined. One-on-one time is important. Good moms spend one-on-one time with their kids. I want to be a good mom. This is going to happen, sobbing be damned. Stay strong, Mama. You can do this.

Saturday afternoon rolls around and I've got some errands lined up. Since one of the errand involves buying (sugar-free! xylitol-based!) chewing gum in an effort to get a certain four-year-old to stop constantly chewing on his clothing and blankets, I decide to take that one along.

The waterworks! The sobbing! The two-year-old is absolutely heartbroken, clinging to my neck like a little monkey. Oh yes. This is good for my kids. Mm-hmm.

I peel him off and leave him crying in his daddy's arms while the boy dances around the front yard waiting for me to hurry up and say my good-byes. I get him buckled in his car seat and we are on our way. Just us! One on one! Success!

(The child left behind, meanwhile, continues to cry for a while, then moves on to angrily muttering my name every few seconds, and eventually falls asleep on his daddy's lap. Great. There goes bedtime.)

The boy and I do our errands. He chooses two gum flavours. I pick up a package. He buys a toy car off a homeless man. I mail some cheques. He runs along the sidewalk, stopping to wait for me at the roads. I huff and puff along behind him. He talks. And talks. And talks and talks and talks. I answers his questions. Somehow the subject ends up on domestic abuse. I'm pretty sure that's an automatic mom-fail right there.

On the way home, I give him the option of stopping at one more place. It's not an urgent stop, though, so I leave it up to him. He tells me he wants to get home because his brother might be sad and lonely. Great! He misses his brother too. And I insisted on one-on-one time why?

But no. This is what Good Moms do, so the next day it's little brother's turn. Big brother, fortunately, knew to expect this, and the toddler and I leave with no waterworks and almost no whining. This is going better! I'm a great mom!

We start at the library to pick up some books I had on hold. Pregnancy-bladder insists that I use the washroom twice during our visit. Fortunately, the toddler only opens the stall door mid-pee on me once, so that's something.

It's only slightly chilly out, so I decide we can walk the two blocks to our other destinations. After all, what's two blocks?

Yeah. Turns out two blocks feels more like ten blocks when your toddler is as slow as molasses. He keeps up a steady stream of chatter the whole way, pointing out every little thing that catches his eye. Fortunately, his chatter requires mostly echos and short responses. We manage to avoid discussing domestic abuse. This is good.

But then it starts.

"Where's [big brother]?"
"At home with Daddy."
"Where's Daddy?"
"At home with your brother."

And repeat. Over and over. For the rest of the trip. Oh yes, this one-on-one stuff is going swimmingly. All they want is each other!

Anyway. We make it to the grocery store and pick up what we need. I manage to prevent him from poking holes in the plastic-wrapped meat, knocking over jars of spaghetti sauce as he walks by with his arm outstretched, and throwing everything that catches his eye into our basket. Whew. The four-year-old was a lot easier the day before. I'm ready for a nap.

But then he bags the groceries for me at the self-checkout and I'm melting all over myself again because gosh, he's just so dang cute. We head to my favourite tea house to share an iced honey jasmine green tea (so heavenly). He squirms all over his chair for a while, then snuggles with me for the rest of the time. The snuggles are nice. I relax.

We make the looooong slooooow two-block walk back to the car ("Where's brother? Where's Daddy?"), which looks positively luxurious when we finally arrive. We're back home a few short minutes later and the brothers are reunited at last.

But I did it. I had one-on-one time with each of them.

And it really was worth it after all.


  1. I put my then-3-year old in preschool mostly so that I could have some "bonding" time with my then not-yet-one-year old.

    My kids are both late sleepers, so by the time the waking them, shoveling breakfast down their throats and BEGGING them to WANT to put their clothes on ensued, we were all so stressed out that no amount of bonding could make up for it.

    I do still try- just once or twice a year for each of the kids to get some alone time, but a friend reminded me recently that there are ways to have one-on-one time even while you are all together. This will be a learning process for me, but I suspect she's right.

    Great post- I'm glad to have found you :)

    1. "...ways to have one-on-one time even while you are all together." I love that thought! :)

  2. I get my one-on-one time with my 2 boys in a couple different ways... If one is sleeping and the other isn't that's a good time for us, or if they're playing in different rooms I take advantage of that, but most of the time I'll take the time to focus on one of them for a little bit even when they're in the same room. That really only works if they're really focused on what they're doing. All that being said, they each get time with me maybe twice a week if we're lucky and it's never a big one-on-one trip somewhere together. Good luck! And don't worry about what "other good moms" do because you do your own great things!