For parents with multiple children, it can be difficult to find one-on-one time with each child. With school, sports, jobs and other day-to-day activities, finding time to spend with each kid becomes even trickier. With some effort and planning, it is possible to connect with your children individually.
Bring one child along to run errands
As a mom of six kids, I have found this is a way to sneak in some alone time with one child. When possible, I bring one kid with me to help do the grocery shopping or other errands. It's enjoyable for both of us because there's no competition for attention (ahem, no fighting!), and we get to talk without interruption. My kids all love to have time alone with mom or dad. They can ask questions, talk about friends or other topics and simply enjoy being an "only" child for a while.
Even if life is too hectic to take time during the day to spend time with individual children, another option is at bedtime. Go into one child's room each night at bedtime and tuck him in. While you are there, spend 5 or 10 minutes just talking about the day, school, worries or other things he may need to talk about with you. Let him talk while you listen. Be sure to let him know he can talk about any subject he desires. Having time to discuss matters that he is concerned about will deepen your relationship and build a bond of trust.
Ask each other questions
Whether you're running errands together or saying goodnight at bedtime, this could be a good time to learn more about each other. Ask about your child's friends, what his favorite subject is, what makes him happy or any other thought-provoking question. Having healthy dialogue will open doors for when more serious matters come along.
Plan special one-on-one or two-on-one dates with your child
For his last birthday, my 12-year-old requested to go on a date with his dad and me to a restaurant. This was a great opportunity to make him feel special and to talk about whatever he wanted (it also turns out that spending time with us is what makes him happy). This helped us to strengthen our bond with him. Some of our other children plan to follow suit on their birthdays. This would also be great to do spontaneously.
Listen to your child even when it may be hard
If you're always telling her, "Not now," or "Later," she will learn that she seems to be less important than whatever "pressing" matter you are dealing with at the moment. If you really can't talk right then, respect her and say something like, "I can't talk right now, but can I come talk to you in 10 minutes?" And then make sure you actually do. Letting her know how important she is to you by your actions is vital. If she continually gets brushed off by you, she won't feel like she can talk to you when she has more serious matters to discuss.
Pick your child up from school and take him out to lunch, or eat with him at school
Whether it's a special occasion or "just because," joining your child for lunch is a nice break from the norm, and a great way to bond with your child. Recently, the middle school my son attends had a day for parents to take their child to lunch. This was an enjoyable time for us to spend some extra time together. Similarly, I have, on occasion, eaten lunch with some of my children at the elementary school. You can meet your child's friends, hear what they talk about and see what they eat (or don't eat) while at school.
Spend time together doing something they find interesting or fun
Kicking a soccer ball around the backyard, playing a game, shopping at the mall, visiting a museum or dancing around the living room are all activities that your child may like to do. Finding healthy activities to do with your child is key to connecting with her and getting to know her. By doing things that she likes, she will feel validated, loved and secure. She will sense that you are interested in being with her. This is invaluable - especially as your child becomes a teenager.
Despite how busy our lives may seem, how much time we think we do not have or how exhausted and stressed we are, we must always make time for our children. One-on-one time can also be accomplished in large families and is vital to the well-being of your children. Take time to get to know them individually. Make sure they know you love them and they are important to you. Time spent with your children is never wasted. Here are some other tips for handling a large family.