The 1 Thing Moms With Multiple Kids Need to Make Time For

The 1 Thing Moms With Multiple Kids Need to Make Time For

You’ve got your hands full, but are you making time for this one simple thing?

By Wendy Robinson

“Give me a hug. I’m going to the store, I’ll be back in a little bit!” I held out my arms to Max, my 6-year-old, but he stopped and looked at me with wide, pleading eyes.

“Mama, can I please come with you? Please? Just me and not Evelyn? Please?”

I hoped to zip to the grocery store by myself so I could quickly get in and out with the ingredients for our dinner, but instead I found myself nodding and helping him find his shoes. How do I say “no” to a kid begging for the most basic thing I have to offer: my time?

One of the things that can be challenging about having multiple children (we have a total of four, though two are now grown) is finding one-on-one time with each child, but many experts agree that solo time is essential to helping parents and children connect. One-on-one time gives you the chance to have uninterrupted conversations, to find out more about your kids when they aren’t distracted by their siblings (it turns out my son will eat snap peas if his sister isn’t there to say “ewww!”), and to let your children know that they are important to you.

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“Every child needs their parent’s undivided attention and the chance to be in the spotlight,” says Sheila Aukes, licensed family counselor and social worker (and mom of 9-year-old twins!). During this time, you should let the child lead the activity, Aukes says, and make sure he or she has your full attention -- so no smartphones or other distractions. Ideally, each child would get this special time with each parent individually, but if your family is crazy busy, here are some other ideas for one-on-one bonding:

Run errands: Give each child a chance to be your shopping buddy. Consider adding in a stop at a coffee shop for a special treat.

Breakfast: If you have a school-age child or a child in day care, try to leave early one day and stop for a bagel or other quick breakfast together.

Walk: If both parents are home, have one stay at home and the other take a child for a leisurely walk around the block before bedtime.


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Reading: Have some cozy reading one-on-one. For a bigger kid, consider reading a longer book that you can work through together.

Special activity: If it has been awhile since you’ve had that one-on-one time (you should be aiming for at least once a month, according to Aukes), plan something special in advance (let your child choose!) so that you both have something to look forward to when things slow down.

Miles was a happy, helpful chatterbox at the store, and I learned that he was a crush on a girl named Dorothy. That alone was worth the trip!

How do you get one-on-one time with your kids?

Wendy Robinson is a writer, working mom, and graduate student. Someday she'd like to sleep in again. She also blogs at

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