I have a twin sister and younger brother, and our house was pretty chaotic growing up, but we could always ask my mom for “special private time.” Then, usually after my dad got home from work, we would find a time to sit alone with her on her bed for 10-15 minutes, no siblings allowed. I remember it so clearly — her green-and-white duvet, the evening light coming in the window, how she would listen so closely to whatever we wanted to talk about. We didn’t have to invent a problem to get her attention; we could just hang out. We would even do it in high school, when I was plagued (plagued!) by the idea that I would never get kissed.

With my own children, I’ve done dates with Toby — plus he had three years of our undivided attention — but with Anton, the classic second child, I haven’t had nearly as much. I feel very close to Anton, and he loves being part of a pack (look at this face!), but it’s definitely true that I don’t end up spending much solo time with him. I distinctly remember one morning when Anton was teeny, I smiled at him in his bouncy chair, and he did the baby version of “Who, me?

Recently, the New York Times article Getting to Know Your Kids One on One jumped out at me. Dr. Harley Rotbart, a pediatrician, reminds parents that carving out one-on-one time can give you a deeper understanding of who your child is (and vice versa):

“If you normally put all the children to bed at the same time, perhaps with the same books and songs, take one night a week to give each child an extra story and time for a chat, maybe starting early if children share a room. Taking time to build that individual relationship when children are young will also make that one-on-one time feel more natural as your children grow into teenagers.

Such a sweet reminder.

This past week, after Toby crashed around 7 p.m., Anton and I would lie down for ages before he fell asleep, chatting about everything from smoothies to Portland to knights. Then, last night, I lay down with him and said, “Would you like a song?” And he cuddled up to me and said, “Mama, let’s just talk.”

Toby and Anton

Did you have one-on-one time with your parents growing up? Do you do it with your children now? I’d love to keep up these little moments and go on a “date” with just Anton. It seems like an obvious thing to try for, but in the day-to-day chaos, it can be good to remember.

P.S. On sibling rivalry and slow parenting.