I have some special friends I connect with almost daily via a mobile app. A couple of the girls work full-time, one of us homeschools and works from home, another mom juggles grad school and motherhood. All of us battle mom-guilt. All of us secretly think we're not doing as much as other moms. All of us want to spend quality time with our kids and wonder if we're doing enough.
One-on-one time with our kids is a great time to get to know them and show them how important they are. It can also be a very overwhelming task. If I let myself look at other moms, especially those with less children, I quickly feel like a failure. I have to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and my mind open to ideas in order to move forward.
As a mother of five, it is increasingly difficult to get one-on-one time with each of my children. I am learning to seize any moment that I can to get to know each child a little better. Here are a few things I've come up with (and a few my husband has come up with - he's very good at this.)
1. Involve your kids in your exercise time
I remember reading a mom's idea to have early morning tea time with individual children. I thought that was a fantastic idea...and I also knew I would never do it. Ever. I immediately felt doomed to failure.
Then one Saturday morning I was lacing up for a run. I remembered how much my five-year-old had once loved to ride in his jogging stroller. I threw his bike in the van and we headed to the beach for a special early morning workout. What fun! Just the right thing for this mom. Since then each child old enough to ride a bike has been able to join me on a run - and they have each looked forward to that time.
If you work out, is there a way to bring your child with you? Is there something else you enjoy doing that your child might love doing alongside you?
2. Date night once a month
I have friends who are able to do dates with their kids once a week or go out with each child once a month. That's not something we can currently work into our schedules, but I can plan on one date each month.
As of January this year, each child gets a month and a dinner date with Mom! They're thrilled - that's three extra special dates a year with Mom. (So far, the top dinner choice in the 10 and under crowd is Dennys!)
Once in a while my daughter and I find ourselves at home while the older boys are out and about with Dad. I find that I can make this an extra-special time just by offering to paint her nails and read books together.
What special things might your little ones like to do when you're home together?
4. Bake together
Often my older children have friends over while my little ones are napping. That leaves a lonely five year old following his brothers around trying to fit in. While learning to include him is good for my older boys, I also like to give them time with their friends.
I love to use this time to bake with my little guy. He loves having treats to offer as the others come inside or the babies wake up, and I enjoy that special time.
5. Make a list with your children.
My husband does this periodically with the kids.
What are your favorite things to do with Dad? And they write or draw their lists. This gives my husband insight into what each child enjoys, and shows the child that we really want to know them and meet their needs. As we can snatch time with each child, we know the type of thing they'd like to do.
Brainstorm a little by yourself or with your husband and don't feel pressured to make time alone the most amazing event ever - our children just want time with us. One of my son's thought the greatest alone time was when I took him to Walmart to buy a birthday gift for his brother - then we got a McDonald's ice cream. We're not trying to win awards, we're just trying to get to know our kids!