I think big families are great but there is one aspect of it that worries me. I worry about my husband and I not spending enough one on one time with kids. I want them to have good, strong relationships with us and I know that some of that comes from being together without all the other kids.
I have 5 young kids. The oldest is 7 and youngest is 11 months old. Life can get pretty chaotic and everyone is always trying to get attention. But they also love having “built in” friends, someone to play with all the time. My oldest actually talks about us having a baby (or two) every 2 years until he’s an adult – not gonna happen 😉
When I was a teenager, I considered my mom to be my best friend. I know that’s not a very common thing and I think a lot of it came from the fact that my mom and I exercised together. Almost every day, we would go for a 4 mile walk together – that’s some awesome bonding time! I knew I didn’t have the time to dedicate a full hour to each kid every day, but I could start now to do something. And after a few weeks, these 4 things are really making a difference. Every time I have that one on one time with one of the kids, I feel a greater love and appreciation for them and they enjoy the time too. So, here’s what we’re doing:
1 – Cook together: Each child is assigned a day of the week to help me make dinner. They love having their own special time and are learning some good skills in the process. A 3 year old can’t really do that much cooking, but they enjoy helping to stir, tearing lettuce leaves for the salad, or any small task they can do with me. I have a hard time fitting this in during the school year since it definitely makes dinner prep take longer – but it’s been a great activity for the summer.
2 – Errands: I rarely take all of my kids to run errands with me; it’s just too much. So, I had gotten in the habit of doing my errands after the kids are in bed, by myself, while my husband was at home. But now, I go after dinner, when my husband is home with the other kids and I can take just one child with me. We run to the library or do a trip to the store, bank or post office. I rotate through so that everyone gets a chance and I don’t try to get all my errands done at one time so that I’ll have other things to do on other days with other kids. I’ll typically go to run errands a couple times a week now Note: I still do a big grocery shopping trip by myself or do grocery delivery.
3 – Doctor appointments: When someone has a doctor appointment to go to, I try to take them by themselves. I’ve always done that since it’s much easier than carting everyone. But I’ve also found that it’s good one on one time and allows me to really focus on what is going on with that child.
4 – Teach them something: My oldest has been asking to learn how to play the piano so I decided to work on that with him this summer. His younger sister is learning to read, so we take time to work on that together. I really have found that the time I spend teaching them is great one on one time. I get the other kids busy with something else or work with them while the other kids are napping and it gives us something special to do with just the two of us.
If you have other great ideas for one on one time, I’d sure love to hear them. I send my husband on an errand every now and then and have him take a child with him and he picks up our oldest from school on his way home from work so they have that time in the car together, but I need more ideas for helping them get that one on one time with him, too. This time is a great gift to give to our kids but also to ourselves.