From Juggling Act to Heartfelt Connection: Why 1-on-1 Time with My Kids Became My Secret Weapon

Kerry here!

Raising a blended family of six kids felt like a never-ending juggling act. There were more needs than a mere mortal could meet. Kids bickered. Sometimes, amidst the chaos, I’d find myself longing for a quiet corner and a moment of sanity.

But then, I became more intentional about 1-on-1 time. Whether it was bagels and card games at Panera, drive-thru at Starbucks, sushi lunches or having a favorite show that only two of us watched, it was like stepping off the frantic trapeze and into a tranquil oasis. Real conversations began to flow. It was like peeling back layers, getting a glimpse into the wonderful, complex beings my children truly are. I got to hear so much more about their thoughts and lives. They, in turn, saw me not just as a harried parental figure, but as a human being with my own quirks and stories.

Respecting “No”

Now, let’s be honest, my attempts at 1-on-1 time weren’t always met with enthusiasm. There were times they said “no” (teenage years, am I right?) and I had to learn not to act like a rejected teenager. With practice, I learned to respect their boundaries, offering the invitation and trusting them to choose when they were ready to connect.

The Long-Term Payoff (Spoiler Alert: It’s Worth It)

Here’s the thing I didn’t realize at the time: those quiet moments of connection were planting seeds for the future when my kids would become adults. By normalizing the act of talking openly and honestly with me, I was building bridges that would extend far beyond our hectic household with six teens and tweens. Now, as my kids navigate the complexities of young adulthood, we still have meaningful conversations because it’s familiar. It’s comfortable. It’s just the way we roll (but it wasn’t always that way during the teen years).

Making the Most of “Quality Time”

So, how do you translate this “1-to-1 magic” into your own family life? Here are a few tips:

  1. Find their “jam”: Whether it’s kicking a soccer ball, watching their favorite show (with you, of course!), or indulging in an ice cream sundae date, tailor the activity to their interests.
  2. Embrace the unexpected: Don’t underestimate the power of spontaneous moments. Chatting in the car on the way to practice, helping them with a homework project, or simply sharing a laugh over a funny meme can all be opportunities for connection.
  3. Be present, not perfect: Put away your phone, offer your undivided attention, and ask open-ended questions.
  4. Show genuine interest in their lives, even if it means listening to their passionate analysis of the latest video game or their hilarious (and slightly embarrassing) stories about their friends.
  5. Keep it fun!: Laughter is the best medicine (and the best bonding tool!). Create a relaxed atmosphere where they feel comfortable sharing their true selves.

By prioritizing 1-on-1 time with your children, you’re not just making the juggling act a little less chaotic, you’re building a foundation of love, trust, and understanding that will last a lifetime. You might discover, as I did, that the most rewarding moments of parenthood aren’t always the grand gestures, but the simple conversations that weave the threads of your family tapestry, one heartfelt thread at a time.

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Kerry Stutzman
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