One-on-One Walks

I don’t know how many of you have more than one child, but it can be challenging handling five feisty personalities in one family (and, yes, I’m including myself!). My three kids are so close together in age, I sometimes wonder about just how crazy I was to do it this way. My two boys are 13 months apart. My daughter is 19 months younger than the middle guy (below). My husband and I thought that if they were really close together in age, we would be able to do more things together as a family and all enjoy them together. We pictured skiing down the same runs together, watching the same movies together, or going to Disneyland and all enjoying it together. This has been true for the most part–our kids are similar enough in ability and maturity to be able to do these things as a family. That has been wonderful and such a gift. However, I have come to realize that “together” isn’t always what its cracked up to be. It turns out that “together,” we still fight about which ski run to take, disagree about which movie to watch, and desperately want to go on different rides at Disneyland.The other Saturday, as I prepped to take my dog for a walk, my kids started fighting. Allie wanted to come with me, but Charlie, (my oldest, above) wanted to go by himself with me. I just couldn’t take the “together” arguing any more. I imagined the sniping that was likely to occur the entire walk and the rest of the day–once they get annoyed with each other, it persists over an untold number of topics.I told Allie that I was going to take only Charlie. Well, you would have thought the world was ending. It was hard to leave my screaming seven year old in hysterics on the sidewalk (hoping she’d be smart enough to return to the house). I explained loudly that I would take her by herself when I got back. Sure enough, that’s what I did. The quality of the walks with each child made every extra minute worthwhile. Not only did the dog get multiple walks (all good), but I was able to really talk with each child. We chatted about how school was going, what their friends are like, which teachers are their favorites, what books they’ve been reading, etc. Now, I spend a lot of time with my children, but I got more out of the 45 minutes with each of them alone than I do in a month most times. I spend a healthy bit of time saying good night to each of them one-on-one, but extended-strolling sort of conversation beats the pants off the we’re-all-sleepy kind of talk any day. That Saturday made me a happy camper.In this busy world, in a family with multiple kids, in the passion and throws of getting things done in life, it’s easy to forget how vital that one-on-one relationship is. So don’t forget to do it when you get the opportunity. Your relationship with the kids will thrive on it. And, these one-on-one walks, they might just keep me sane, too.

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