Because I'm a pediatrician and a mother, many people say to me, “it must be much easier for you to be a parent because you know everything about kids.” This is partially true in that, yes, if my children are sick I'm able to care for them with ease, and know the difference between a minor cold and an emergency. But, emotionally, I am like every other mom. I worry about being a good mom and whether I'm doing the right things to make sure my kids grow up not only physically healthy but also emotionally well-adjusted.
One thing all moms talk about is “guilt,” and when raising twins, most moms say that feeling starts on day one. When my twins were first born, I constantly worried about making sure everything was split evenly, from the amount of breast milk they were getting to the amount of attention they received. As a pediatrician, I knew they were individuals, not a “twins package” and that everything doesn’t have to be equal. But I was a mother first, and my maternal guilt kept nagging me. At the age of three weeks, my son became colicky, and needed my attention much more than my daughter. There were many nights when my daughter would play by herself on the play mat and fall asleep in the crib on her own while I was still trying to soothe her brother. At that time, although I'd felt a lot of guilt and it broke my heart, I had no choice but to give more of my attention to the child who needed it.
This experience taught me an invaluable lesson that, although I could not spend the same quantity of time with both children, I was able to give them the quality of time and the type of attention they each needed to feel loved and to blossom into healthy, happy unique individuals. As my children are growing older now, I feel more than ever the importance of one on one time. My husband and I make an effort to spend time separately with each child on the weekend and some weekdays. It could be as simple as one of the children accompanying us on errands, playing a game or reading a book together, to taking a class like gymnastics or ballet, where each child gets one parent’s undivided attention. Don’t get me wrong — we still do most things together as a family because we love to, and we don’t have the unlimited time to do otherwise. However, we do try to make a conscious effort to carve out our own special time with each child.
One-on-one time has many benefits for you and your children. These include not having to constantly juggle two children’s needs and being able to focus and create your own bond with each child, and understanding their emotional needs. For the children, the benefits include having a secure and special relationship with each parent and an opportunity to appreciate their twin sibling by having some time away from each other. After all, can you imagine being with someone 24 hours a day and having to share everyone and everything with them?
How do you fit in one-on-one time with your child? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.