7 Ideas for one-on-one time with kids as a single mom

Feb 17, 2014 at 3:02 a.m. ET

Getting alone time with each child as a single parent is a challenge. These simple tricks can help restore that needed time!

single mother with son

Photo credit: Michael Hevesy/Photodisc/Getty Images

As single parents, we have little time to ourselves. It is the nature of the job. Aside from when the kids are in school, we are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our time off is known as sleep most days. With the struggle to get time alone also comes the struggle to spend one-on-one time with each child. When I was married I could take one, leave two and give us all that special mommy-and-me time we needed. But now it is a real challenge.

For over a year, I have been trying to come up with ideas for how to spend more one-on-one time with each of my children. That time is desperately needed to bond and build trust that will last a lifetime. Below are some ways I have been able to accomplish that goal.

Create a special task for just you and one child

Sometimes you can get time alone in a busy house. It is hard, but it can be done! One of my daughters and I have a cookie recipe we make together. The other two come in and try to help, but they lose interest. She and I sit and talk and ignore the other two running around. She knows she gets my undivided attention when we are baking together.

Wake a child up early

Yes, I know. We only get so much quiet time. But waking a child thirty minutes early, spending that time having breakfast and talking to them can do everyone a world of good! Just one day a week per child still gives you the "me time" you need to be an attentive mom.

Let a child stay up later

I realize this is along the lines of getting a child up early, but with school starting so early sometimes this one is a better option. It is harder to accomplish because other children will see you letting one stay up and may protest. But if you can get it done, a bedtime story with just one child is amazing!

Hire a sitter

This one is harder to do, as we are all on a budget these days. But I have decided that it could just be worth it to spend a few hours a week with one of my kids. I have it set up so that every few weeks my sitter comes and I take a child to dinner. I take the money out of the grocery budget, or I don't buy that one movie I want. I can do that later. They need me now.

Let one play hooky

Oh, I know. I am a terrible mom for suggesting that one child miss school for no reason. But I don't think a child will miss her education by being pulled out of school a few hours early to go to the park with mom. Memories can be made that last a lifetime.

Do a babysitter swap with your neighbor

We all have friends who could use a night off! Offer to watch their kids in exchange for a night when they watch yours. On those nights, go on a walk or head to the local ice cream parlor with one of your kids. It's valuable alone time without the budget-buster!

Have "mommy time"

With a lack of options comes the creativity to solve a problem. Instead of having all of the kids pile on the bed for a movie with mom, put one or two in the living room and let one curl up with you. Set up a coloring board on your bed, and you and your child can color and talk and be together while the other ones are occupied.

The challenges of being a single parent can be overwhelming, especially when you have to let go of the things you valued when you were married, such as one-on-one time with a child. But with creativity and determination, you can get it back and reap the benefits it has for you and your children!