This past weekend, my seven-year-old, Anna, went to winter camp with her Brownies troop. We dropped her off in the snowy, dark night (well, I made sure she got inside) and then headed home. Sean was also away much of the weekend for work, so until Sunday at noon, it was just me and Avery.
I forgot what this was like. Last year, Avery was in preschool part-time, and I worked part-time, which left us a couple of days a week to spend alone together before picking up her big sister from school at three. I cherished those days. Anna has such a big personality, that when we’re all home together, she tends to dominate the space. But for those handful of hours on Thursday and Friday, I could devote my undivided attention on my “baby” and let her help plan our day.
It wasn’t always tea parties and Candy Land. We often went grocery shopping and ran around town doing errands. But even that was fun, with Avery hauling out her purse, and making sure she had paper and a pen to make our to-do list. She didn’t care what we did, she just loved that we were together. I felt the same. It was precious time. I had two-and-a-half years to spend solo time with Anna, so this felt like a sort of catch-up with Miss Avery.
I miss the chance to have time alone with either of them, now that they’re both in school full-time. We are finding our new groove this year, but it’s taken some time to carve out enough attention for each of them, since we’re almost always together as a unit.
This weekend was just like old days with Avery; it wasn’t all about fun (we spent an astounding amount of time on Saturday afternoon cleaning her very messy room), but we played many games of Uno, wrote valentines, ate pancakes, had some friends over, and I let her sleep in my bed as a special treat. We read books and cuddled and giggled and it was quiet and easy and beautiful.
But on the way to pick Anna up, we both said how much we missed her and how maybe it was a little too quiet while she was away. “I can’t wait to play with her,” Avery said, holding tight onto the lollipop she picked out for Anna from the restaurant we’d gone to for dinner the night before.
They came back together with hugs and stories about how they spent their weekends apart. As much as they’ve been the poster children for sibling rivalry, I see the beginnings of a shift. I thought so much time spent together would cause their rifts to deepen, but maybe it’s helped forge the friendship between them I’ve always hoped for. Hearing their chatter reminded me that as much as I love alone time with my daughters, we’re better together.
But I have decided to try to carve out more regular “dates” with my girls. It’s hard to know how and when—I’m working more now, and weekends can feel so rushed and precious already that it might be hard to pass up time with both for one or the other. But I think it’s good for them, and good for me, to give each a chance to have the spotlight shining only on her, if only for an hour or so.
Do you make a point of having alone time with your kids?