I can think of a bunch of questions to ask, but the one that I would most love you to answer is: As a mother of eight children, how do you meet everyone’s needs including your own? I have five children ages 8 and under and we homeschool too. I am with my children all of the time, but at the end of the day I sometimes wonder if I spent enough quality time with my children (and spouse.) What do you do to get to know each of your children as individuals and make sure they feel like they each get one-on-one time with mommy? Also, do you have any children that are in a sense “higher-maintenance” than others who push for frequent attention, where maybe other children you have to make a special effort to make sure that they get the attention that they need because they are “lower-maintenance” and don’t push for as much attention (even though that doesn’t mean they don’t want/need it)?
Yesterday I showed the schedule we follow. Throughout the day I spend some one-on-one time with each child but it’s usually for something they need: help with school, fixing their hair, helping them practice the piano, brushing teeth, reading bedtime stories, etc. I wanted to spend time with each one that was just for fun, just the two of us together. So I scheduled it in. It’s not possible to do it every single day so we do it once a week. Thursday and Friday afternoons are reserved for those times. The children get my complete undivided attention. Whoever I’m not spending time with takes turns watching the baby. During “our time” we do whatever the child wants to do.
The kids look forward to these times all week. I do too. At first I felt like I was a bad mother. Who has to schedule special time to spend with their children? Apparently I did because it wasn’t happening. I’d intend to do things with each child but something always came up. I was at home. My children were at home. But I was not with my children. Now that there’s a reserved time it’s easy to say “no” to any distractions. It is also a relief.
Cookie (5) almost always wants to sew clothes for her American Girl doll, Ruthie. She chooses the fabric from our stash, helps pin the patterns, and sits on my lap pushing the sewing machine pedal while I guide the fabric. She’s a hugger. She needs that physical contact to feel loved. I think that’s why she chooses this activity more than any other because she’s on my lap with my arms around her while we talk and giggle and sew.
During three-fourths of the year (spring, summer, fall) Fudge wants to spend our time outside. We go on walks, weed the garden, count the flowers that have bloomed, swing on the hammock, lay on the grass and cloud watch, etc. She LOVES nature.
Truffle and Brownie like to do crafts, play board games, go on walks, or work on Faith in God requirements for church.
It has been so informative spending this time with my children. I’ve learned so much about their interests, their talents, their dreams, through our one-on-one times. I can see what special souls they all are. Who knew there would be so many unique combinations coming from the same gene pool?
The children also get quite a bit of time with Mr. FR. It’s just a wonderful advantage of living on a farm. Whenever he hauls hay, drives tractors, etc he’ll come and get whoever’s turn it is to go with him. They go in order, oldest to youngest, so there is no question as to whose turn it is. The girls ask him gospel questions which lead to great discussions or he’ll tell them stories from when he was little. With the younger ones they’ll sing songs, tell jokes, or he’ll help them memorize scriptures.
I do have some children who are higher maintenance. My poor Fudge is surrounded by the two who seem to require the most focused attention, Truffle and Cookie. They don’t care why they are getting the attention – just that they are getting it which results many times in misbehavior or whining. We are working on it. And they are doing better, especially as they get older and are able to show more self-control. The one-on-one times have helped as well, I think. Sad to say, I have to be reminded to show attention to the lower maintenance children, like Fudge, more than I’d like to admit. I know I haven’t been doing a good job when she starts leaving “calling cards” here and there. She’ll draw a picture or write a note and leave it on my pillow or hang it on the fridge. Later she’ll ask “Did you see my picture?” These are her cues that she’d like some acknowledgment and lovin’.
Whew! This has turned into a longer post than I thought it would be. Homeschooling with toddlers and babies will have to wait until tomorrow’s post. Jenny and Brynley had some great questions about that.
All this week I’m answering questions from my readers. Are you curious about something? Go here and ask away!