When I was younger, my mother would take me about once a month and let me spend a few hours however I wanted to. My activity of choice almost always involved going to the mall and indulging in some frozen yogurt, something my three sisters didn’t care that much about which was good since they were never invited—this was all about me and I loved it.
They got to choose their own special thing to do with my mother and it wasn’t long after this tradition started, we started calling this time spent with her as “our alone-y.”
The alonies started when I was in elementary school and were still carried through my difficult teen years when my mother and I were at odds more often than not. Despite our relationship, we both looked forward to our dates. I mean, there isn’t a fight or situation that would keep many teens from a dose of fro-yo and a trip to The Limited Express in those days, am I right?
These dates kept going after I went away to college—I’d come home for break and even though my friends were a big priority, my mother always made it a point to steal me away for a bit.
To this day, she still celebrates her four children by taking them out one at a time so she can have uninterrupted time with just them. Of course, it’s harder now that we all have jobs and kids and loads of dishes and laundry to do.
And we may not spend hours looking at bangles, shaker sweaters, or large hoop earrings then chasing all that walking around with a low-fat chocolate and vanilla swirl while Richard Marx plays through the store speakers, but getting away for a lunch with one of her kids, solo isn’t so difficult we don’t make it a point to fit it in.
It has to be one of the things that made the biggest impression on me as a kid, and as an adult. There’s nothing like feeling seen and heard, and when you come from a family with siblings it can feel like that doesn’t happen very often—which is the opposite of what all parent’s want their kids to feel.
And because this made me feel so loved, I knew as soon as I got pregnant with my first child I would always do this with my kids.
Fast forward to having three kids in three years and it’s practically become a necessity in order to bond with my children these days. Between their schooling, sports, and social lives, we’ve all needed to scheduled time to slow down with each other, take a breather, and just catch up on life.
Sometimes I take one of them and we dash out for an ice cream. Then there are times when it’s more formal and planned, like when my two older kids are attending sleepovers and my youngest is home with me and there’s a movie playing his two older siblings don’t really care about. We go out to eat, then to the movies and stuff ourselves with gummy candy and take the long away home.
When the three of them are in one room together, the likelihood of my daughter telling me about her latest crush, or how she’s been having really bad headaches in the morning, or how she’d struggling in math isn’t as great as when it’s just the two of us doing something she loves to do.
It makes our kids feel validated when we carve out time only for them. It makes them open up to us in ways they don’t as we are stuck in the rut of a daily routine as we all schlep from event to event.
Being alone with one of your kids allows you to really see each other and bond. You can make the most moments when you are able to concentrate on just one of your kids at a time. And they are able to see you outside of your mom gig and build which build another layer to your relationship.
This isn’t just beneficial to our kids, it helps us as parents to a breather and remind ourselves how extraordinary our kids are.
They might not tell you they need time with just you, but they do. Even 30 minutes once a month of getting you all to themselves can add up over the years and have a huge effect on your relationship.
It’s certainly been something I’ve never regretted doing with my kids, or my mother. And I must say, it’s nice to know you are doing something right with your kids that isn’t only going to have benefits for the both of you now as well as in the future.