Our three boys are vastly different people. They are each 4 years apart with my oldest and youngest being 8 years apart. We love them all equally but share different types of relationships with each one due to their age and personality differences. My baby looks to Dylan (the oldest) as more of a second dad than a playmate and so finding activities to suit everyone can be a challenge.
Another challenge from my boys perspective is simply being heard! In our house we emphasize respect and expect it, but with so many voices often someone feels unheard. They also love to have my undivided attention which I simply cannot give when I am with all 3 children. The chaos of a larger family creates a tension at times that I have found is best alleviated by giving them what they seem to crave; individual attention.
I am often surprised when I meet people that do not make a point to spend one on one time with each child. Maybe it's a lack of time, or a lack of help in looking after the other children, two things I am very grateful to have, but I think it is important to find a way. As I was thinking about it the other day it occurred to me that perhaps some people simply haven't thought about it and don't know the wonderful benefits of one-on-one time.
|Dinner portion of the "date" with C|
Like most moms, I'm constantly multitasking. Mom, wife, blogger, cook, shopper, planner, social media participant, etc.. I sometimes catch myself being only mildly present with the boys. When I stop what I am doing, get down to their level and look in their eyes I can see that it means so much more when I focus on them! The same is true in regards to giving them their own time.
I love my children, all of them the same amount, but I think it is dishonest to say in the same way. My three boys are so different that I could not possibly have the same type of relationship with each one of them. Really, I wouldn't want to! That is the amazing beauty in having multiple children. They all bring out something unique in our relationship and make me a better mother and person in general through that ability.
Through our date days I am able to connect on a much deeper level with each child as I can really focus on that individual relationship that we share. We share jokes, memories, and interests which just increase our personal connection. Years later we often giggle at something that happened between us. Bonding the entire family is vital but so is that bond between each individual member of the family. With this increased connection also comes more respect and tolerance, two things you can never have too much of.
|Lunch date with T|
As children grow older self-confidence becomes more and more important as they are faced with situations and decisions that will be best made with a strong sense of self-worth. By giving them individual attention and a feeling that what they want matters, they will be more confident in making choices for themselves, rather than simply following the crowd.
|Perhentian trip with Dylan to get scuba certified together|
One-on-one dates is not an automatic invitation for your children to open up and talk with you. That is cultivated in the overall relationship you share with them, how open you are with your feelings and thoughts, and your respect level for them and their opinions but it certainly helps to open the door.
I think a lot of us, especially those with many kids, get caught up in the notion that there just aren't enough hours in the day. If one child gets more attention you may feel guilty and so the whole idea gets put on a back burner. But what you don't know is how little time it really takes. It doesn't need to be some elaborate, expensive full-day outing, although those can be wonderful as well. Just a simple meal out or a long walk alone is all it takes to remind them how important they are!
We have done meals out, story telling, cooked meals together at home, played a board game or cards, taken walks or hikes, overnight trips, multiple day trips, and so much more on a one-to-one basis with each child. It never matters how much time it is just that they were the focus. Our children always return home feeling refreshed and more capable of showing respect and tolerance to one another.
Do you also do "dates" with your children? What types of things do you do?