Thursday, December 17, 2015

5 Ways to Carve out One-on-One Time With Kids in a #BigFamily

As an only child, I was not spoiled with THINGS but instead my parents gave me the gift of one-on-one time. I treasured that time and am learning it's a gift that's hard to stretch out over 5 kids when I am also homeschooling and working sometimes 20 hours per week from home. Yes, homeschooling counts as time, I guess. But it's SCHOOL time. And we do a lot of fun stuff out of the house TOGETHER. Anyway, I had to come up with a new plan.

Okay, it's an old plan. I think Michael came up with it a long time ago and we just never did it. Now we are doing it. Here's the plan, then after that are a few more ideas!

Monday nights are for Joel. We go upstairs around 9 p.m. before I get too punch-drunk tired and we read some of his current homeschool book we are supposed to be reading. The other kids know it's our time and they stay downstairs. This is also a good time for TALKING and sharing stories and thoughts and ideas. He is 14 now and this time is priceless to me because we only have so much more time left together with him at home. I have to make sure I keep this relationship strong.

Tuesday nights are for Michael and it's the same thing with reading and bonding. Michael entertains me with his dark humor, but he is often the quietest of the kids so it's great for me to hear him out one on one. It's important for me that he knows that I value what is going on in his 12-year-old head.

Wednesday nights are for Callie. We like to watch some Project Runway Jr. and chat. Then I have her read to me from various books. She is 10 and still likes to spend time with me so I am jumping on this opportunity.

Thursday nights are for 8-year-old Eva. We chit chat and I read her stories and maybe we watch a cartoon together. She is my kid who needs tons of physical affection so we snuggle up.

Friday nights are for 6-year-old Samuel. He loves to hear stories so we take our time while I read to him then he tells a story back to me and we discuss the story if he wants to. Maybe we watch a cartoon and laugh together and just talk about his day.

The weekend. Well, I'm working on that. I should probably take one night for Mr. Kerrie and one night for myself. Seven people in my family and seven days in a week. Once Christmas dies down I think we'll start going out for a couple of hours on a short, cheap date. The night reserved just for me? I guess I could listen to an audiobook or watch a favorite show. I haven't been watching TV at all the past few months because I haven't had time or made it a priority to just chill out.

We attempt to do one-on-one kid dates twice a year but it usually turns into once a year, unfortunately. That has to change next year. The 4-hour kid dates are a big deal to them and don't even have to cost a cent, although I like to take them out to eat so we can sit and chat and enjoy some good food and a treat. Check out my post/article about that here!

Sometimes when I have an errand to run and one kid wants to come along I say YES! So much easier than the days taking 5 kids to the grocery store and trying to wrangle them while someone had a meltdown and I was sweating and breaking out the Hershey Kisses on the way to the minivan.

Lately when a kid asks to help me with something I say yes. Of course, sometimes my blood pressure freaks out a little when messes are made and wrong things are put into recipes, but it all works out. They are learning and having fun.

When the weather was nicer and a kid wanted to walk with me, I have to admit at first I was like "Ah, man, I'm going to miss my sanity time and my podcasts and quiet" ... but then I realized how important that one-on-one time was. When they are all grown up and out of the house I will probably walk every day alone or with Mr. Kerrie or some new old-lady friend. For now, I want to walk with my kids and hear what they have to say.