The Husband and I were both only children (well he has older sisters but was raised mostly alone) and we had NO clue what it would take or what raising a large family would look like when we started this journey. We’ve learned lots a long the way and its been difficult at times. We have been Inspired to make some changes in our day to day that have really improved our relationship with our children.
One of the most important changes we’ve made in 2013 is the institution of quality one on one time with each of the kids. Sometimes its two on two if the need arises. You would be amazed at the words that flow freely from the quiet one in the family or the quiet that comes from the noisiest ones during these outings.
1. Make it a Grocery Date: Everyone has to go out and pick up groceries albeit once a month, every other week or a weekly excursion. Make it a habit to rotate the children and take one or two of them with you. Plan a few dollars for ice cream, a meal out or a special treat of some sort.
2. Have an errand Buddy: When Dad needs to pick up a part for the car or run a tool to a friend he needs to grab an errand buddy to rid along. Plan to take a few extra minutes and enjoy the drive or sit somewhere and chat. One of our sons has a weekly allergy shot, Dad takes that time to read stories and play cars while in the waiting room. Since this child is 2, it works sufficiently for his one on one time.
3. Schedule a Day in Your Calendar: Sometimes we just need to plan ahead and make a special fishing trip, shopping day or other activity just for that child. We budget that in and make it a priority.
4. Take advantage of those late night moments: Some of my children will come and ask all sorts of questions late at night when everyone is getting ready or in bed. We try to take advantage of that time to listen to their hearts instead of rushing them off to bed. Its hard to do with so many to get to sleep and we can not do this every night for everyone, but take advantage every now and then of those late night cups of water and enjoy the conversation around the water “cooler”.
5. Group Activities: There are somethings that are just better suited for the older crowd like amusement parks and movies and somethings that are better for the younger kids like Chuck E Cheese or the McDonalds play land. So occasionally we separate by age and do age appropriate (or gender appropriate) things with them. These kinds of outings are not limited by two by two or one by one but can be the group of 4 littles or 5 boys, ect.
6. Write it down! In order to remember whose turn was last and whose turn is next we keep a list on our calendar of the children’s names and the date of their last one on one time. We are less likely to forget who goes next this way. 🙂
I do not advocate ONLY doing activities one on one, but occasionally. Being in a large family means that often times children can get lost in the every day running of the family. Sometimes in the day to day we see the family as a group instead of individuals. Taking one on one (or two on two) time with some of the children has been such a huge blessing for us all. So take a minute and create a DATE with your kids.
Next week I’ll share some ideas on conversation starters and memory makers!