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A friend of mine has twins who are about a year younger than mine (which would put them right around 15 months). She has a babysitter who comes in for 4 hour chunks several times a week so she can do some part time work at home or run errands or do whatever needs doing. But she also uses her sitter as an opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with each kid. For example, the sitter might come at a time when she’s signed up for a mommy and me type of class, so she’ll take just one (and alternate from week to week) instead of taking both. I’ll admit, at first this seemed strange to me. Why not just take both? I know the other gets to go the following week, but I felt bad for the kid left at home who didn’t get to attend the music class or art class or whatever sort of activity it was. And I prided myself for being the kind of MoM who can handle taking both of my kids out to a library storytime or playdate at the playground by all by myself.

But recently, I’ve begun to see her strategy as very, very wise and healthy. Because Tiny and Buba spend all day every day together. And yes, I have some one on one time with each kid throughout the day (as does my husband when he’s on duty in the afternoon while I do some very part time work outside the home), but the other kid is always nearby. On the weekends, we tend to spend our time together as a family, something there really isn’t much time for during the week. Our kids have seemed happy enough with this arrangement, so we haven’t questioned it much.

But last weekend, while we were poking around at a yard sale not too far from our house, my son got very, very fussy. It was clear that he needed to leave. So, my husband pulled an umbrella stroller out of the car, and took off with Buba while Tiny and I stayed to look around. The second the van started up Tiny began to scream and cry, “Buba! Buba!” She didn’t want to stay if he wasn’t staying too. She demanded that I hold her and refused to walk, as she’d been doing since the moment we’d gotten out of the van. Instead of smiling and waving to all the people and cars who came by, she clung to me. And whenever a stranger spoke to her, Tiny tried to bury her head into my shoulder. This was not the Tiny I knew.

I don’t doubt that my twins share a special bond that I’ll never fully comprehend. But seeing Tiny fall apart like that has made me realize that without the one-to-one time, I’m not helping my kids to see themselves and each other as individuals. And  I really want my kids to feel confident and happy when they’re apart as well as when they’re together. But I don’t know how they’ll learn to feel that way if we don’t ever give them the opportunity to practice.

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11 thoughts on “One-to-ones”

  1. We do the one-on-one thing for errands on the weekends, but not frequently enough. I think its really important (and fun)! We mostly just do little trips like going to the grocery or hardware store, but they definitely notice and enjoy it when its “their turn”. During the week, though, they do everything together, with me. Not sure I could swing any kind of help to change that, though your friend’s arrangement sounds great!!!
    Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings recently posted Its a Twin ThingMy Profile

  2. When my twins were five months old, I took one of them to California and left the other one home with my husband and his mother in R.I. for a few days. Since I was in the midst of newborn twin hell, it felt wonderful only having to meet the needs of one child although I certainly missed my other baby.

    I’m not sure if that trip made any difference but I know the few times my girls (who are 16 months now) are apart, they really blossom from the extra attention. As they get older, I plan on doing more one on one time with them. At the same time, the other twin gets to have her father and big sister all to herself! Everyone benefits!

  3. Every now and then I grab one of my girls when I’m running errands. In the beginning, the three not going were devastated… but now they understand the concept of taking turns and think it’s great. In fact, a few weeks ago I wanted to take Roo grocery shopping because she seemed to be needing some one on one time, but she quickly pointed out it wasn’t her turn. I still like taking them for one-on-one trips because it gives me a chance to talk with them. I’ve started a game that when I take one, I ask her about her “favorites” (color, food, etc). It’s fun to listen to their answers and start a conversation.
    Quadmama recently posted Another Round of Tough LoveMy Profile

  4. I had a bit of an aha! moment earlier in the week with our 18-month old G/G twins. Our girls have had colds, so their nap schedule has been a little off. B woke up early, and I decided to let A continue to nap for a little while. As I tiptoed out of the nursery with B in my arms, she got a worried look on her face. Her lip started to trimble, and she started crying “Sissy!” as soon as we got in the hallway. She calmed down after 3 or 4 minutes, and she was having fun snuggling with Mommy, but she kept shouting “Sissy!” every minute or so…I guess wanting her sister to come join in the activity.

    Wow…if our girls struggle being separated by a couple of rooms, I really need to put a plan into action!
    MandyE recently posted My New Part-time JobMy Profile

  5. I’ve done a total 180 on whether one-on-one time is necessary with twins, and whether it’s a good idea to split them up. It came about when I realized my daughter was letting her twin sister answer for her, and it’s gotten to the point where there are speech delays. Now I have to crack down. If I don’t separate Lulu from her sister, she won’t answer for herself.
    Jungletwins recently posted Under Tropical SkiesMy Profile

  6. We do Mommy/Daddy alone time each Saturday morning. We both run errands—grocery shopping, target, Home Depot (with a treat stop at Starbucks or something thrown in)—and the kids take turns being alone with Daddy. Because that’s the real draw, not time apart or alone with Mommy. However, we all have a fun time, the kids get to be “only” kids for a morning and the adults both get to enjoy it and get a ton of stuff done.

    We didn’t do it to separate the kids, but more because my daughter was going through a hard time behaviorally a few months ago (just turned three) and yet always does great one-on-one. And, I needed the treat of one kid to get me through the rest of the week. It has worked great.

    I worry less about separating them because they are boy/girl twins, and will separate eventually. They also split up immediately when we play with friends, with Miss A heading off to play with the little girls and Mr D heading off to play quietly by himself for a while.

  7. This is SUCH a huge issue in our family, particularly since I spend so much time single-parenting. We’ve talked about needing to have another set of “special days” for each child; it’s so valuable!
    Sadia recently posted Overheard 43My Profile

  8. I want to put in a huge plug for one-on-one time! I have friends who cannot do something with just one kid because the other will flip out. My kids have been having “dates” with just Mama or just Daddy since about 1 1/2, so they are used to it. They know if it’s not their turn now, it will be later. One is quieter than the other when together, but one-on-one, she’s chatty cathy. And parenting is so much easier one-on-one. All 4 of us love these moments, even if it’s the grocery store or walking home from school while the other 2 drive.

  9. This is a great post! Such an important lesson to learn for all parents of twins. The sooner you start to help your twins learn to appreciate their time without their cotwin, the better they’ll adjust to many situations. Plus, it’s great for mom or dad. Getting to know each of my twins separately was a real eye-opener for me as they are “different” alone than together. Interesting…
    Christina Tinglof recently posted Should Twins Share the Same Classroom I’m Not So Sure…My Profile

  10. It’s so important, and we see that more and more now that ours are 2. Whenever one of us has a quick errand to run, we take one of the girls. We also have a 5 month old, so me going out for a long outing with just one twin and leaving her at home is hard (won’t take a bottle). But when my hubby took one of the girls to get a blood test and to the store, he was surprised at how different she was when she was alone with him. They really need the individual attention and time away from their other half. It’s so good for their development.

    A good book that also goes over this is “Emotionally Healthy Twins.”
    Leigh Ann recently posted Big Weekend for ZoeMy Profile

  11. I think that is a great idea! I have a twin sister and we never were separated! Oh but there was the one time my dad took me and not my sister to my grandma’s and when I saw myself in the full length mirror at the end of the hall, I went crying and calling my sister’s name- to myself! That was the last time we were apart. So when we started Kindergarten, in different classes, it was a huge shock. We spent all morning walking each other to and from our class until our teachers caught on. We were fine eventually, but it was definitely hard! I will have to keep this in mind with my own twins. Thanks for posting!

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