One of the things I love most about having a bigger family is the way I get to nurture distinct relationships with each of my children. The three of them are so alike in many ways – they are fun, happy, and always up for an adventure – but, they are definitely their own people and different in many wonderful ways as well.
I get asked a lot about how I find the time to spend with them all. How do I work, cook, clean, run errands and still divide my time to make sure they all get the attention children crave? Well, it’s a constant work in progress, but here are some helpful tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way…
- Make the most of every minute. Yeah, I know it can be kind of annoying to have a 2 year old “help cook” dinner, but those 10 or 15 minutes go a long way. So every day, I try to give each child an opportunity to be my special helper for something. It’s usually for the most mundane things (cooking dinner, running to the store, doing laundry, setting the table, putting out pjs and clothes for the next day, ect) but they LOVE it. Not only do they get the joy of helping mommy (please tell me this excitement doesn’t wear off for at least another 5 years) but, it gives us a chance to have some coveted one-on-one. They tell me about their day as I oversee them stirring the pasta or get some lap time while we sort the darks and whites.
- Lunch dates. I didn’t realize until about half way through the school year that my son’s school encourages parents to come in and eat lunch in the cafeteria with their child. Maybe yours does too? Its only 20 minutes making it easy enough to sneak out of the office for a lunch date every once in a while, but it ends up being my son’s favorite 20 minutes of the entire week (mine too). I love getting to check in mid-day on how his day is going and seeing him beam with pride at having his mom there is quite the ego boost! (keeping in mind that in a few short years he’ll be mortified by my presence at school, I’m basking in this as long as possible)
- Yes Days. Once or twice a year each of my children gets a day that is entirely dedicated to them. We call it our ‘Yes Day’! The rules are simple: requests must be relatively reasonable and respectful and I will do my best to say “yes!” Can we drop the other kids off at daycare and head to the beach just us? Yes! Skip lunch in favor of ice cream? Yes! Check out the dinosaurs at the museum? Yes! Go to the bounce house and do the big slide again and again and again?? YES!! Best.days.ever.
- Don’t stress it. As much effort as I put into making sure each of my children get their individual time, I think the most important thing is what I don’t do and that is worry, stress, or feel guilty. I know it’s a natural worry for parents to wonder how they will divide their time or make sure each child is getting the attention they need, but its so important to let the guilt go. I do not keep spreadsheets to ensure perfectly divided attention or feel the need to “make it up” to any of them for time given to another. Instead, I remind them every day that a sibling is not something that takes anything away from their lives, but rather adds to it – the greatest gift they have ever gotten. In exchange for sharing some of my time and attention, they get another person on this planet who thinks they hung the moon. The truth is, they get more attention now than they ever did…from their adoring siblings – what’s better than that?!
What are some things you do to get a little one-on-one with your kids?