One on one time with your kids

My kids are 5 and 3 (5 and one quarter to be exact, if you ask my daughter) and it occurred to me recently that I have never spent much time with either of them, one on one, since the 3 year old was born. Sure, we do the occasional trip to the store as a twosome, but we’re pretty much a solid family unit most of the time.

So when my cousin called to say she was having a baby shower at her home about 4 hours away from where we live, I decided to take my 5 year old daughter for a little trip and girl time, leaving my 3 year old son with my husband.

I have to admit, I was pretty worried about leaving my son. He’s what you would call “attached “to me, to say the least. Every time I leave him at school or to leave the house without him, he collapses into a crying mess. Apparently within seconds after we separate, he is back to his old self, yucking it up and having a ball. So I realize this charade is for my benefit only, but being a sensitive mom, I still worry. How would he handle an entire night without me?

The outcome? It couldn’t have been more rewarding for all of us. My daughter and I spent a relaxing 4 hour train ride together, doing crossword puzzles and coloring and literally spending one on one time together side by side with no escape. I can’t think of the last time we did that! Then we had the pleasure of staying at a hotel where she was so fascinated by the concept of room service that she made me order it three times in one night, one time just for an apple. The staff got such a kick out of it that they gave her a grand presentation where they put the apple on a plate with the steel cover and a rose in a vase by its side. We stayed up late and watched one of my old faves, The Aristocats, and then we slept together in a big bed and woke up whenever we felt like it and you guessed it, ordered room service again.

I called home the next day and found my son was not only okay, he ate a better dinner than usual and went to bed without a fuss. Apparently they were having a blast doing the same kinds of things we were doing. Yes, you could say I missed them, but I would never have missed this chance to just pay attention to my daughter for a bit, without the distraction of my other child or my husband. They know it’s special and different and they are just as excited as we are by this fun diversion.

Next to the room service, the most exciting part of the trip for my daughter was when we ran into Rite-Aid so I could get some contact lens solution. She said to me, “this store has everything!” All her favorite and familiar things were there-bubble bath, coloring books, shampoos. I realized that I don’t have to take a 4 hour train ride to find this special time together once again. I could easily take her out to dinner once in a while just to giver her a chance to order her food without her little brother hogging all the attention, a chance for us to have a quiet conversation.

Sometimes life gets so busy that you forget to take the time to breathe. But everyone benefits when you step back and enjoy the experiences that weave the fabric of our relationships and memories. Who knew room service and Rite-Aid would be in my quilt!

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Rachael Ray