One among many: Giving kids individual attention in a big family

Kinderling News & Features

Big families are fun, beautiful… and sometimes very hectic! If you’re a parent of several kids (or if you’ve seen Cheaper by the Dozen) you’d have some idea of how tricky it can be to really spend good time with everyone. Karina Lane is a mum of four kids, and she’s figured out a few great ways to pay special attention to each child.

I love having a big family and if time (and cash) was on my side, I’d go for more than the four I already have.

Having more than a couple of kids running around the house is great fun and makes it a noisy and happening place, all the time. This is great for the crazy chaos that comes with big families, but I must admit, I find it hard to spend quality time with all of them and end up feeling guilty about conversations I’ve had to cut short, or homework that I could have paid a little more attention to.

I know kids need time and attention from their parents, much more than they need the latest Playstation or Disney toy on the market. In fact, one-on-one time when you have a big family, is probably more important than ever, because in a big family, there’s always the risk that someone is going to feel left out or like they’re not being heard.

With this in mind, I decided to do some research to find some ways I could make my time count even better with each of my kids and found it that it IS possible to tweak things and spend better time with my kids without over-stretching myself in the process.

Here are some things I plan to incorporate with my family – any tips here that could help you?

Prioritise quality over quantity

Spending time with each of your kids doesn’t have to be a big thing. Sure, spending a morning playing hide and seek or doing craft with one of your kids would be a lovely thing to do, but if this simply isn’t doable in your life, then don’t worry about it. You can spend quality time with your kids in small manageable chunks, which is definitely more realistic for me. Ten minutes in the morning is enough time for me to read a book with one of my kids or have a conversation about what they’re looking forward to at preschool.

Give lots of cuddles

It’s not just babies who benefit from physical contact. Kids of all ages need us to be physically affectionate with them, which is not only great for building an emotional relationship with them, but can also have a positive impact on their self-esteem.

If you’re not a hugging type of family, you can make sure physical contact is still part of your games, such as tickling or being a ‘kissing monster’. Even patting your child on the back or stroking their hair as they walk past is a way to let them know you’re there for them.

Avoid distractions

This is the one I struggle with. I’m so head-busy when I’m around my kids that I’m always thinking about the next thing I need to do instead of just immersing myself in the moment and enjoying them.

Shutting off any distractions like TV or other goings-on in the house will assure them that I’m 100 percent tuned into our special time.

Engage with their passions

This tip is genius. Pick something that your child loves and simply spend some time doing it with them. This could mean asking your kid for a lesson in Minecraft, reading their favourite book with them, or doing some drawings together.

Sharing an activity that they already feel connected to will create a bond between you and forms a memory your child will always have of your time together because it’s meaningful.

Start one on one outings

This idea involves allocating a special evening or block of time regularly with each child. For example, every Friday could be a date night for one of your kids, whether just you and that child go for dinner somewhere, or to keep it even more simple, one child each week could have a slightly later bedtime, so that he or she gets full attention from both parents once the other kids are in bed.

If you have younger kids, the same concept could be applied for a one-on-one breakfast or babycino date.

Talk in bed

Bedtime can be a perfect opportunity to snuggle up and have some quality time with your kids, and to make it even more special, you could aim to have some extended bedtime cuddles and chat with one child each evening or week.

For example, reading a book together by torchlight or having a conversation about how the week has been going for them could make this time special and just for the two of you.

Make chores a bonding time

By taking one of your kids out when you do errands, you get to spend some time with each other as well as tick some stuff off your to-do list. Plus, you child will love their role of ‘helping mum’ and relish in their alone time with you. This could also be done if you have a dog that needs a daily walk, or with cooking dinner.

Come up with a system to get one child involved in the task and enjoy the one-on-one with them at the same time.

Remember, you’re doing really well

Last of all, go easy on yourself. However you feel about the job you’re doing as a busy mum, chances are it’s a pretty darn good one. Even taking the time to read this story means that you’re an attentive, loving mum who wants the best for her kids. 

Rather than beating ourselves up for not being as available to our kids as we’d like, let’s remind ourselves that we’re doing a stellar job and our kids are lucky ducks to have us!

This article was originally published on Babyology.