Feeling guilty about the lack of time and energy you have as a large family mom? Do you wonder if you are spending enough quality time with each of your children? Here are simple ideas you can start doing today to help you find quality time with your kids!
I swore I would never parent by guilt. I didn’t want guilt to rule me, make my decisions for me, or tell me I wasn’t doing a “good enough” job as a large family mom. BUT…
It’s hard to squash guilt before it creeps in and niggles at your ear that your little ones are getting left behind, your big ones are getting left out, and everyone in between has been forgotten.
Now we know in our hearts this absolutely is NOT true, but we desperately want something tangible we can do to prove to ourselves (and let’s be honest – others) that we DO spend quality time with our kids. So, let’s talk about some simple ways you can find the time and energy to be a Quality Time Mom!
IDEA #1 – Read to your kids
Read alouds are the epitome of quality time! Yet, all too often we have so many expectations of what a “proper” read aloud time looks like that we either give up or never start because it feels too hard.
It’s important we recognize Read Aloud Time as something more than an educational opportunity. If we are trying to make everything about it educational, we are liable to suck the joy right out of it. What is more important about reading aloud to your children is the connection you build with them. Read aloud time is physical touch, verbal communication, and emotional connection.
The only thing you really need to do for a proper read aloud time is READ! So, lower your expectations, choose a book, and read as much as you can (or as much as your children can handle). You’ll find read aloud time can be simple and beautiful!
You might also be interested in reading: The Afternoon Book Basket
IDEA #2 – Run errands together
As long as there are errands to run, there will be opportunities for you to spend time with your kids. This idea works best if you only take a child or two with you on the errand – otherwise you are doing more crowd control than quality time.
You can make a rotating schedule or randomly select a child to go with you. It can be a shopping trip, a haircut, a visit to a neighbor’s, or anything else that gets you away from your normal every-day activities. It feels special to the child you take with you simply because they are doing something different from what everyone else is doing.
IDEA #3 – Help them with their chores
For some children, there is no better quality time than having mom or dad work alongside them, helping to ease the burden of a chore or task. Not too long ago, we introduced our 10 year old to the wonderful world of dishes so that he could join that part of the Table Chores rotation. It’s hard work to keep up with the number of dishes this family goes through, so when I joined him the other night to help him wash, he was incredibly grateful. Plus, we had a wonderful chat over the sudsy water!
So, consider what everyday activities you can insert yourself into to create quality time that actually accomplishes a task at the same time!
IDEA #4 – Institute a “Special Night”
About 5 years ago, we began having Special Nights. Every child from age 3-17 gets a Special Night where they chose a food and drink, and while everyone else is sent to bed, they get mom and dad to themselves!
Once again, this is an opportunity for each of your children to be in charge and get to do something no one else is doing!
IDEA #5 – Assign Kitchen Helpers
Have a child or two join you in the kitchen to make supper or a snack! I don’t recommend doing this every night because it does take extra time to have a child helper, but create a rotating list and then, a couple of days a week spend time with each of your children in the kitchen!
IDEA #6 – Rotate seats at the table or in the van
This is such a simple idea, but full of quality time potential! If you create a seating chart for the table (like THIS ONE) or for your van (like THIS ONE), you can have a different child near you for more one-on-one conversations. Each child gets a turn, so no one has a legitimate complaint that they don’t get to talk to mom or sit next to dad.
IDEA #7 – Backyard, Bedroom, Deck, or Driveway Dates
This was actually something my husband and I started so the two of us could spend quality time together! Ty would text me when he pulled into the driveway and I would sneak out to sit in the car with him and sip on some coffee and chat. Sometimes this was the only “quiet” time we got in the evenings!
Read >> Frugal Date Nights
But, you could easily extend this to your children! Invite one of your children onto the porch for a conversation, walk around the yard with the toddler, sit on your bed and talk with your teenager – these are all simple, but effective ways to get quality time in with your kids when you are maxed out for time and energy! And best of all – it doesn’t require you to go anywhere!
Now, there are a couple of VERY important things I need to stress when it comes to spending quality time with individual children…
*Ask questions – take the time to study your children. Learn who they are, what makes them tick, and how God is working in their little lives. You may be tempted to carry the conversation and impart a whole bunch of wisdom (or even criticism), but these moments are better spent listening and enjoying.
*Be firm with the other children – It is inevitable you will have complaints, knocks on the door, and whining. Some children feel like they are always missing out, but you must be firm that this time is for this particular child and not for them. They get their time too, and they wouldn’t want another child complaining or crying during their time, so be respectful and wait patiently.
I must be honest, I think a lot of parenting experts overrate the concept of quality time. I think it is important for children to feel as if they belong, but I don’t think their self-esteem hinges on how much time you spending “hanging out” with them. The above ideas will create that special quality time without adding a lot of extra stuff to your to-do list.
It’s really about being a family of individuals, so whatever you can do to nurture your unique child while nurturing the fact that they belong to a unique family is the best way to spend quality time with all of your children!
How do you spend quality time with your kiddos as a large family mom? I’d love to hear your ideas!
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