How I Handle One On One Time With Each Of My Five Children.

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My children are not a pack. I need reminding of this daily. When you have lots of little children all in a row it can be easy to think of them as a group. But really they are individual people all with different, unique, and complex personalities. They have different individual needs as well as the same basic needs of food, love, care, shelter and clean clothing.

Spending one one one time with my children is a constant struggle. I need to work hard at this and be intentional about how I handle it. They all talk to me at the same time and I turn this way and that trying to work out who to give attention to first. The children love their siblings though. Never have I thought things would be better if we didn’t have any one of our children. They each play a special part in our family and in our lives. They all love their brothers and sisters and it brings me joy to see them playing with and enjoying each others company. None of my children hold any resentment to each other. They are happy playmates. Sure they fight too – but that is just life!

It is my hearts desire that my children have a happy childhood where they look back and cherished the way their mum showed them love and attention. I have a few traditions and ways that I have set in place in our home to ensure they get the attention they need.

Firstly prayer.

I spend time everyday in prayer pouring out my heart to the Lord for him to reveal to me any of my children’s needs that have been overlooked.

Reading times.

This has been something that I haven’t always been consistent at but when all the children were very little I would do a reading time where I told everyone to choose a storybook. I would read a book to them one at a time. All the children would gather around close to listen, however, I made a point to let only the person who’s turn it was to sit in my lap. I included the baby in this too and it was lots of fun!

Bed time tuck ins.

This has been something that I have started this year. I am so tired and drained in the evening (sometimes I am just plain in a stinky mood and really need some space!) and the last thing I feel like doing is just one more thing with the children. Luke usually gets all the children’s teeth brushed and PJs on and does a Bible story app on his phone with them at bedtime. I used to just say good night to them from my comfy chair in the lounge but we noticed that the children often didn’t settle well and got out of their beds way too many times. I knew I had to change this habit and go into their rooms for one last time with mum. They just needed their mum and I had to push myself.

I now go in and spend a few minutes with each child snuggling with them on their beds. I try to open up conversation to see if there is anything on their hearts. I ask questions like “what was the best thing that happened today?” and “is there anything bad that happened today?” I make sure I end our little time with a prayer of blessing.

I make sure I speak positive words over them at this time of day and thank the Lord out loud for how smart, kind, and wonderful each child is. It gives us a chance to right any wrongs that have happened during the day. Sometimes I have even apologised for snapping at them or being in a grumpy mood. We end our time with lots of snuggles and kisses. All my children have responded so well to this special time. I’m sorry I didn’t begin it sooner! It took the Lord to give me a bit of a kick up the be-hind to get me out of my comfy chair! đŸ™‚

The days with my children can seem so busy as we rush from one activity to the next and I don’t want anyone to get lost in the rush. Spending a few minutes with each child at the end of the day is a great way to catch up on any feelings that have been pushed aside and need expressing. My eldest child is eight so we only talk for a few minutes but I’ve been warned by mothers of teenagers that these nightly conversations may go until past midnight! I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!

Mum and son/daughter dates.

Over the years I made made a point of allowing one of the children to come with me on my big fortnightly grocery shopping trip. The special ‘star of the day’ got to help me choose lots of grocery items that they like the best and during our time away we would have a special lunch out together and I would spoil them with treats like a doughnut and juice maybe even a book or a small toy. Even a big Wendy’s ice cream all to themselves! I would treat them to all the things that I would usually say no to when we have all the children together because it’s just too expensive to buy five of everything all the time. I let them do the coin spinner and have a go on the ride outside the shop. We have a blast together!

In the last year or so I have been more intentional about these dates and they have become a tradition. Once a week, when Luke is home to care of the other children I take one of the children out at a time. Often instead of taking them grocery shopping we go out for about an hour to where ever they choose. My six year old son loves this one cafe we have in our town that has a little play area. I buy him anything off the menu he likes and he smiles from ear to ear eating his big ice cream and sitting just with mum. It makes me smile right now as I write this just thinking about the delight in his face!

I’m sure the ways I spend one on one time with my children will change and adapt over the years as my children grow older but these traditions are working well right now.

How do other parents spend one on one time with their children?

I’m open to more ideas!

Blessings, Peta 

Why I found having 2 kids harder than 5.

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It was a cold winter morning. Luke had been up early preparing for work in the crisp dawn air while I slept on, exhausted from yet another big night of feeding and changing my newborn. Luke was greeted by our smiley 19 month old son with his head full of bouncy blonde curls. He graciously let me sleep while he made our toddler some warm toast with my mum’s homemade jam, changed his nappy and wiped his face and fingers. I was awoken by my husband with a kiss good-bye and groggily focused on little sons sweet eyes sitting on the end of my bed.

Just like that my husband Luke was gone. And I was alone. Well technically I wasn’t alone, but it sure did feel very lonely. My eyes glanced from my curly haired toddler to the bassinet beside my bed with my precious little new born son. His head covered with think black hair that spiked up in a tuft. How on earth was I supposed to care for two babies? There was only one of me, I was outnumbered and they both wanted me. It was overwhelming and I worried a lot about whether I could meet the needs of both a baby and a toddler. With a squirm my 3 week old opened his lungs and gave a familiar shriek that meant he was hungry. Right now! While I sat up in bed and breast fed him my toddler was trying to get off the bed and was stuck half way. With my baby still well attached I shimmied around the bed and used one arm to hold him up and the other arm to help my toddler to the ground.

I was starving from all the night time feedings and decided to make myself porridge. I carefully put my little son in his bouncy chair on the kitchen floor. As soon as I started stirring the pot he began to cry. I began to cry also. I was tired, overwhelmed, lonely, probably hormonal and had no idea what it was going to take to care for two babies. I just wanted a bowl of porridge.

I remember it well. A little while later a midwife came to our door for my littlest sons check up. She opened the door and asked me if I was okay because it looked as though I’d been crying. I replied that I was fine, but then burst out crying on the midwifes shoulder (almost a complete stranger to me) (also not like me – I never let people see me cry and don’t cry a lot) and said..

“I didn’t know having two kids would be this hard.” 

Things did get a little better as my baby grew, though I did go through several months of postpartum depression after my second baby was born. I wasn’t on a ‘baby high’ like I was after my first baby. I unfortunately didn’t fully feel close to or really bond with him until he was six months old.

Looking back at this time brings back memories of how hard it was for me back then. Twenty two years old with two children under the age of two. Most of my friends didn’t have any children yet. I struggled with my self image, loneliness and I was stressed a lot from two little ones needing me constantly.

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So how are things ‘easier’ now I have five children? My little newborn second born son is now almost seven years old and is a real delight.

Firstly I would say that I’ve learned a lot about children since then. Each child’s personality and needs are different though, and present to me new sets of challenges. However, overall I don’t worry as much any more about many things because usually the problem is just a passing phase.

When you have all little children and no older ones it can be physically harder because of all the lifting and changing you need to do. I would say that life became smoother and less intense once our children could physically dress themselves and go to the toilet. Even get themselves some water and a snack. Little things really do make a difference to the flow of the household. Right now I have five children yet four of them can dress themselves and use the toilet on their own. I only have one still fully dependent on us for nappy changes and getting dressed.

By the time I had my fifth baby I was well and truly used to splitting my attention between lots of people who all need me at once. When I only had two children I was so worried about whether I could give two children the attention they need. But I’ve learned now that our older children adjust well to a new sibling  and over time their new sibling becomes a cherished play mate and companion. Giving multiple children the attention they require is still challenging but I have gotten used to it and learned some strategies along the way for making sure every individual’s needs are met. Getting ready for school this morning I had one child wanting me to tie their shoe and two wanting me to do their hair. Instead of freaking out I just said okay hop in the ‘need mummy line’ and they lined up waiting to get their turn with me. They learn about patience and that other people have needs as well as themselves.

Perhaps that would be a good topic for another post – how I spend individual time with all five of my children?

I pray more now, than I used to. I used to send up quick prayers for help. But in the last year or so I have been relying on the Lord more for his wisdom. My prayers have become more focused, intentional, detailed and consistent. If I don’t know how to deal with a particular parenting challenge I spend some time with the Lord and his Holy Spirit gives me an answer. The answer comes as a thought, through reading his word or at times through advise from others or reading a book or article.

Thank you for reading! Leave a comment if you have something to add to this from your own experience.

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Blessings, Peta