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When my children look back on their tender years at home, I want them to remember the beginnings of a special bond with my husband and I that gradually developed into a lifelong, nurturing relationship. I want them to remember the special feeling of one-on-one time in everyday moments when mom or dad made time just for them.
As a stay-at-home-mom, you might think it would be easy to make time for one-on-one time with each of my kids on a regular basis. Add in homeschooling and we’re together all day anyway, so why do I feel guilty for neglecting to build those special relationships?
I am online friends with some wonderfully organized parents who schedule time for each child every single day. Some of these have many more than our staggering number of seven. For us, life gets in the way. Whether it’s homeschooling (which I don’t count as one-on-one time unless it’s something really fun), ministry, household chores (can’t count that either unless we have a really good conversation while folding clothes), something is always next on the never-ending to-do list.
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Rotating Leader-of-the-Day is one way to spend one-on-one time creating lifelong memories in everyday moments.
Beginning with the oldest child and following in birth order, we began by designating one child as the “Leader” each day.
When we began Leader-of-the-Day, we started allowing the leader to stay up 15-30 minutes later than siblings (depending on the time and activity) to do something special alone with mom or dad (sometimes both). That few minutes each week helped us as parents to pour into our kids and affirm our love for them just before bed time. Hopefully, it helps them go to sleep with a sense of security and love.
Sometimes the activity is very short and simple, even rushed, quantity time. Sometimes it is well-planned and meaningful, leading to real quality time. Be consistent and those nights of Creating Lifelong Memories in Everyday Moments will come more and more often.
Ideas for Activities for one-on-one time with the Leader-of-the-Day
- Read a book or story. Reading aloud is great for learning and bonding. The shared experience of the story, and sometimes the discussions is brings, builds a love of reading.
- Play a game. Sometimes our special time is just a game together. It may be Candyland or even just something on the iPad. The little ones love Angry Birds and the older ones enjoy Scrabble, chess, or quiz games. These are easy on parents after a long day.
- Make something simple. My girls love crafts. Be sure to prepare for this ahead of time, or if you are like me, you will not want to put forth that much effort or make a mess just before bed time.
- Shop online. Even the boys love browsing online and comparing prices for something they have been wanting or just looking at cool gadgets. Amazon.com is our favorite.
- Search for ideas for upcoming birthdays or holidays on Pinterest.com. Part of the fun of the upcoming celebration is the anticipation. Our kids plan way ahead and change their minds many times as their birthdays approach. Having lots of ideas ready when it gets close saves time and brain power.
- Pretend. Whether you play with your child’s favorite toy set, have a pretend tea party, or become jungle animals, imaginative play is good for the mind and fun for kids.
- Draw or paint. Create something together or just sit near and talk as you each create your own masterpiece.
- Take a walk. Look at the stars, try to find constellations or shooting stars, listen to the sounds, count fireflies. Worship the Creator of all these things. If you’re in the city, look at the lights, listen to the noise, pray for the people around.
- Talk and pray. Discover what is on their hearts. Ask questions like, “What is the best thing that happened this week?” or “What is the worst thing that happened this week?” Then really listen and sincerely pray, taking the joys and sorrows to Jesus.
Leader-of-the-Day is an easy approach that can boost one-on-one time for any size family.
Whether you have two children or ten, you can adjust this approach to fit your family. You might even have one parent spend time with the leader while the other parent spends time with the child who is the leader next so that each one’s time comes more often.
Since becoming a part of our family through adoption, our five-year-old daughter has learned to value her time as the leader. She asks multiple times a day if she is the leader. She learned quickly that being the leader is special and gets so excited when it is her turn. It doesn’t take much to make her happy. A pretend tea party, building with blocks, or playing on the tablet creates lasting memories of her special time with mommy or daddy.
As my children grow up, I want them to remember our one-on-one time with a warmth that reminds them how special each child is to us and to our Heavenly Father.
Leader-of-the-Day began as a time for making memories, but quickly grew into much more. In my next post, see how the Leader of the Day helps us Settle Sibling Conflicts & Build Responsibility.