When people think of attachment parenting, thoughts tend to immediately spring to the early years of a child's life, where practices like co-sleeping and babywearing can help meet a young child's physical and emotional needs for closeness to their parents. Attachments formed with your children at birth need to be kept and maintained across the years, spanning their childhood and beyond as they reach adolescence. Their day to day world is becoming ever larger and more confusing as they move through the years at school, like hopping from one stepping stone to the next, each one a little trickier to reach. They are trying to negotiate relationships on a daily basis, as they move in and out of friendship groups and need to interact with adults surrounding them. They have joys that they want to celebrate and hurts that they need to work through. It's now, more than ever, that they need that closeness, care and connection to a parent.
Having two children, I've found that the best way to give a child the connection they need is by spending time alone with each child so they can feel special and noticed. While quality time as a whole family is valuable in its own right, it is the one on one time that will really strengthen your relationship with each individual child. It is their time, to open up, to be heard, to feel connected and close without the interruptions of a sibling. They can relax, they don't need to fight to be noticed or talk louder to be heard. They have your full and undivided attention.
Over the recent weeks, I've found staggering bedtimes invaluable to help me to find that time to spend alone with my oldest daughter, Miss K. After Little L is tucked up in bed with her lights out, I go into Miss K's room and sit in her cosy bed with her. We pull the quilts over us, and decide what we are going to do together. We've been going through a phase of paper play lately. We might play noughts and crosses, or an ABC game that I used to play when I was a child camping. I remember us all lying in our sleeping bags as the darkness settled around us and my parents would start an ABC game and we would all take in turns to think of, say, an animal which starts with each letter of the alphabet. Miss K likes to write the ABC down to read through afterwards. She might ask for an impromptu spelling B, she giggles and laces her fingers through mine as the words get more challenging. We might play a drawing game, while one of us draws an object, the other has to guess what it is as quickly as possible before the drawing is finished to gain a point. I usually spend about thirty minutes in her bedroom with her. A little while before it is time for her to settle off to sleep, she turns out the lights and lies down next to me and tells me about her day, what she did in class, where she sat at lunch, who she played with and if she had any difficulties. Simplicity Parenting talks about a child 'unpacking their day', like lifting clothes from a suitcase, so a child is able to drift off into an easy sleep. That's bliss before bedtime for me, knowing that, even though it's the end of the day and I'm tired, we have connected. She feels good, relaxed and happy and so do I.