In the movie White Christmas, Danny Kaye's character tells Bing Crosby's character something to the effect of 'Get yourself happily married and have nine kids. If you spend just five minutes a day with each of those kids, then that's 45 minutes I get all to myself!'
In case you've lost count, we have five children. You would think that I could find five minutes a day for each child to stop and look into their eyes and listen to them.
It's hard to do things one on one with our kids. We call it the Me Too Syndrome. If one child gets special attention in anyway, there's at least one other child two steps behind me or Joshua saying 'me too, Mommy/Daddy!'
Personally, I find that since I am home with them all day long, reading books, making meals, teaching, training, disciplining and all the other stuff that comes with being a stay at home/homeschooling Mama, I just want some me time. I don't want to spend every evening out with somebody after a full day of Mommy-ing.
Frankly, I just want to spend some time with my husband. I want to decompress. I want to prop up my feet and veg out.
I struggled for a while with what to do, trying to give every kid some personal attention everyday. The fact is, I can't do it. Not in this season of life. The physical needs of our family as a whole prevent me from scheduling out 3 hours a day to give each child one on one time.
What I can do is pay attention to them and try to keep their little love tanks filled.
Elizabeth just needs to be close. She is happy to help me with whatever I am doing or cuddle next to me while I feed the baby or use the computer.
Thomas needs praise. He wants to show off his latest dragon slaying and get proper credit for it. He loves to tell me in detail how he solved a problem or defeated a particularly hard level in some DS game and beams like the sun when I applaud his work.
Anna wants to relate. She demands conversation and look-me-in-the-eye attention. A simple nod of the head is not an answer in Anna-Land. She needs words and conversation.
Sarah Grace wants it all. She's not demanding, but to really fill her love tank, she needs conversation, one on one and away from anything that might distract your attention from her.
Daniel needs diaper changes and entertainment and to be stopped from eating electric cords and distracted from tipping trash cans and to be trained to heed "no" and to be fed and to be put down for nap and to be pointed in a different direction than the steps and... Well, as a ten month old he obviously has different needs than the others!
I've discovered a super-duper way to give each of my children a Mommy Date. Every single week. On Monday, it's Thomas, Tuesdays are Sarah Grace's, Wednesdays are for Elizabeth, and Thursdays are all about Anna.
When Daniel goes down for his morning nap, I take my 'date' to my room and we spend at least half an hour just hanging out. We read, we chat, we play DS together, we play dress up, we sing songs, we cuddle close, we share a special snack. Whatever. The child gets to choose. Anna's favorite thing to do is jump on my bed and sing songs to me while I watch her and listen to her. So I do. I just sit and smile and laugh and she's fulfilled!
I know that as the kids grow, these little meetings will be more precious and that they will change in content. But I love having this time that we both know is about just us. We still have a monthly date with each kid, but this allows me to keep better fellowship with them in the in-betweens.
Do you have dates with your kids? How do you fit them in?