Recently, I saw a funny meme about the multiple benefits of coconut oil. It said: "Frizzy hair? Coconut oil. No shaving cream? Coconut oil. Dry skin? Coconut oil. Bad credit? Coconut oil. Boyfriend acting up? Coconut oil."

When it comes to parenting, we have our own magical coconut oil. It's called: special time.

Child having multiple meltdowns a day? Special time. Child whining incessantly? Special time. Child repeatedly antagonizing his sibling? Special time. Jeans too tight? Special time. Don't know what to make for dinner? Special time.

Okay fine. Special time won't exactly get you into a smaller pair of jeans, but I'm convinced it's the antidote to most parenting-related issues.


What is special time and why is it important?

Special time is a daily scheduled and specified amount of uninterrupted one-on-one time with your child. During this moment, your child gets your complete, undivided attention for at least 15 minutes.

They are in charge—leading and directly the play. You are physically, emotionally and mentally present. No phone, computer, chores, television or daydreaming. Your child chooses the activity and you become immersed in their world.

In order to feel loved, children need us to feel and express joy when we're with them. They need to know that we take delight in spending time with them. Often when they're acting out, what they're really expressing is their need to be seen. Their unwanted behaviors are their way of getting our attention.

When I became intentional about special time, I realized that it's a lot more difficult than it sounds. Parents are busy and stressed. On any given day, we're juggling caring for our kids, making meals, doing laundry, cleaning up and working on our marriage. It's no wonder that it can be incredibly difficult to carve out one-on-one time with our kids.

Creating special time is doable. Here's how to create one-on-one time with your child:

1. Plan ahead.

Put Special time in your schedule just like you'd put a dentist appointment or soccer practice. It is just as important. Start by creating weekly special time and then advance to daily time if necessary.

2. Explain special time.

When you're putting your child to bed, tell them that tomorrow the two of you are going to have special time. Explain that after they get home from school the two of you are going to have 15 minutes (or longer, up to you) of special time when you will do whatever they want to do. Build it up. Tell them how excited you are and prompt them to start thinking about how they want to spend the time.

3. Set a timer.

The most important thing about special time is that your child is in charge. By using a timer, you relinquish your control of the time. When special time is over, it's because the timer went off, not because you determined that it was time to stop playing.

4. Let the fun begin.

Turn off all electronics, put your to-do lists aside and immerse yourself in your child's world. For many of us, playing in their world is the last thing we feel like doing. But, it's only 15 minutes. Just do it.

5. Channel your inner child.

Drop your judgments, reframe your negative thoughts and let yourself delight in your child's interests. Instead of learning and exploring with an end-goal in mind, try learning for the sake of learning.

6. Show genuine interest.

Again, this can be challenging and may require a bit of reframing on your part, but adopting a curious mindset can be helpful. Taking the opportunity to tune in to what interests your child and how they enjoy spending their free-play can be helpful in building a stronger connection. Showing genuine interest while our kids lead the play is one of the most powerful ways to convey our love for them.

You might also like:

    Our babies come out as beautiful, soft and natural as can be—shouldn't their clothes follow suit?

    Here are nine of our favorite organic kids clothing brands that prove safe fabrics + stylish designs are a natural fit.


    A brick and mortar store in Manhattan that opened in 2002, Estella is NYC's go-to shop for luxury baby gifts—from sweet-as-pie organic clothing to eco-friendly toys.



    We l'oved this collection from the moment we laid eyes on it. (See what we did there 🤣) Free of things harsh added chemicals, dangerous flame retardants, and harmful dyes, this collection is 100% organic and 100% gorgeous. We especially adore their soft, footed rompers, comfy cotton joggers, and newborn-friendly kimono bodysuits.

    Looking to stock up? Don't miss Big-Find Thursday every week on their site—a 24-hour flash sale that happens Thursdays at 9 a.m. PST and features a different body style, collection, and discount every week!

    Hanna Andersson


    One of our all-time favorite brands for durability, style, + customer service, Hanna Andersson doesn't disappoint in the organic department, either. From an aww-inducing organic baby layette collection all the way to their iconic pajamas, there are so many organic styles to swoon over from this beloved brand. And we swear their pajamas are magic—they seem to grow with your little one, fitting season after season!

    Monica + Andy


    The fabric you first snuggle your baby in matters. Monica + Andy's (gorgeous) collection is designed for moms and babies by moms with babies, and we love it all because it's made of super-soft GOTS-certified organic cotton that's free of chemicals, lead, and phthalates. Newborn pieces feature thoughtful details like fold-over mittens and feet.

    Finn + Emma


    "Here boring designs and toxic chemicals are a thing of the past while modern colors, fresh prints and heirloom quality construction are abundant." We couldn't agree more. Made from 100% organic cotton, eco friendly dyes, and in fair trade settings, we love this modern collection's mix of style + sustainability.

    We especially love the Basics Collection, an assortment of incredibly soft, beautiful apparel + accessories including bodysuits, zip footies, pants, hats, and bibs, all available in a gender-neutral color palette that can work together to create multiple outfit combinations. The pieces are perfect for monochrome looks or for mixing with prints for a more modern style.


    @littleaddigrey for @softbaby_clothes

    You'll come for SoftBaby's organic fabrics, but you'll stay for their adorable assortment of prints. From woodland foxes to urban pugs, there's no limit to their assortment (meaning you'll even be able to find something for the new mama who's hard to shop for). Plus, the name says it all--these suckers are soft. Get ready for some serious cuddle time.

    Gap Baby


    Organic may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Gap, but this popular brand actually carries a wide variety of organic (and adorable) baby + toddler clothes. From newborn layette basics to toddler sleepwear—and more—there's something for everyone in this collection. Everything is 100% cotton, super soft + cozy, and perfect for eco-conscious mamas.

    Winter Water Factory


    Certified organic cotton with Brooklyn-based swagger? Be still our hearts. Winter Water Factory features screen-printed textiles in bold designs you'll want to show off (get ready for some major Instagram likes). And the husband-and-wife co-founders keep sustainability at the forefront of their brand, meaning you can feel good about your purchase--and what you're putting on your baby.

    The company makes everything from kids' clothes to crib sheets (all made in the USA). For even more cuteness, pair their signature rompers with a hat or bonnet.

    Under the Nile


    Under the Nile has been making organic baby clothes since before it was cool. Seriously, they were the first baby clothing company in the USA to be certified by The Global Organic Textile Standard. They've kept up that legacy of high standards by growing their Egyptian cotton on a biodynamic farm without the use of pesticides or insecticides, and all of their prints are made with metal-free colors and no chemical finishes.

    Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    You might also like:


    Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

    Keep reading Show less
    Learn + Play