One of the things I really love about weekends is that we get to spend time as a family. The hubby and I try to put work aside, and I’m thankful that for most of the year, the Princess doesn’t have to do schoolwork over the weekend. I admit that often though, most of our attention diverts to the little one during family time, especially when he’s running around or wants to eat. So, we decided to consciously make an effort to schedule both 2-on-1 and 1-on-1 time with the little Princess.
My husband and I both grew up with three siblings, and we’re blessed that we developed strong bonds with them while growing up. However, I also remember times in my childhood when my brothers and I used to jokingly say, “Uuuy, only child sya ngayon!” when one of us would have both of my parents all to himself/herself. These were the graduation ceremonies, some trips to the grocery or when one of us drove my parents to errands or events. Ok din maramdaman paminsan-minsan na wala kang kahati sa attention ng parents mo.
Family time and 1-on-1 dates are equally important, but for this post, let me run through the Top 5 Reasons why we do 2-on-1 dates with the Princess.
- We are able to give her 101% of our attention.
Grabe, having small kids really means that parents have to multi-task and are almost always rushing, especially when you need to go out or get something done. Plus, having an energetic 2-year-old boy in tow really requires that you keep an eye on him at all times. Super likot! He will run, jump, climb anything, and try to squeeze himself into the smallest and oddest spaces, so you really have to pay attention. We are blessed that the Princess understands this, and she really does try her best to keep her 5-year-old self in check so Mama and Papa can make sure that the Baby Ball doesn’t get hurt.
So during 2-on-1 time when the Baby Ball is not with us, we show her that it’s “her turn”, and we make sure we give her 101% of our attention.
- She sees that Mama and Papa planned a special day to both be with her.
Although we also have regular 2-on-1 or 1-on-1 time with the Princess (errands, chores, homework, etc.), we also plan on special dates where we take her out. We arrange for someone to look after the Baby Ball so we don’t have to hurry back home. If possible, we also avoid combining errands with our 2-on-1 dates so we can focus on spending time with the Princess. If we really have to do errands, we try to schedule things so that she doesn’t feel rushed.
For example, we recently took her out to the mall for merienda, but we also had to do the groceries and buy some light bulbs for the house. The Princess and I did some window shopping first while the hubby went to the hardware store, then we all ate together at a café. Then, the hubby took her for some dessert while I did the groceries. She was all excited when we met up when I was done, telling me lots of tidbits about the big dessert she had with her father.
- We give her an unrushed environment to ask questions and tell us stories.
Although the Princess is quite the chatterbox (madaldal talaga!), she sometimes takes a while to open up about things she wants to ask, or needs time to recall stories about school or things she observed. Having long and relaxed mealtimes or snack times give us the opportunity to sit down, relax, probe and follow-up on her stories, and gives her the time she needs to remember things that happened that she wants to tell us. And doing things together with her lets us observe how she processes her thoughts and reactions, without us getting distracted by a Baby Ball, umm, trying to climb a pole or jump from a bench. These are some of the times when we feel that she also seeks approval for what she did, or how she reacted to things that happened to her in school.
- We show her we respect her choices.
Since we’re not really in a rush during 2-on-1 dates, we can let the Princess be the boss. She can choose what things to do, where we eat, what she wants to see (all these within set limits, of course). We ask her if she’s ready to go, and what she wants to do next. The Princess loves milkshakes and ice-cream, although we don’t let her have these too often. So this is always a special treat for her.
- We show her that her Papa and Mama are a unit as her parents, and we build on, support, and encourage each other’s thoughts, beliefs and values.
Now this is something very special and specific about 2-on-1 time. We show the Princess that her father and I are “united” as a unit, and that we want the same things for her and for the family. We can show her that we support her together as her parents, so even if she makes the distinction between what Mama and Papa want, she recognizes that we support each other’s opinions and values. Something like, “If Papa already said it’s alright, then OK, it’s alright.”
Also, she sees how the hubby and I talk about things, discuss differing opinions, how we respect each other’s viewpoints, and how we come to a united stand. I feel this is something very important, that she can see the dynamics of the kind of relationship that Mama and Papa have. She can also see how Papa takes care of Mama, and vice-versa.
Really, any kind of time with family is important. We need this to be able to give our kids the love, care and attention they need to feel loved, and be loving to others too. Soon, it’ll be the Baby Ball’s turn to have 2-on-1 dates with his father and me. Hmmm. I wonder if those dates will translate to more physically demanding activities? Guess I’ll just have to wait and see!
Enjoy the long weekend!