Are your kids feeling lost in the mix of family life? Here are great tips to establish one on one special time to help your children feel loved and important!
Being part of a big family can be hard on kids sometimes. It is hard for them to find their voice and be heard. As a mom, it can be difficult to find time in the day to let each child know they are loved, needed, and a vital part to the family. After trying many different things, we have finally found a system that has worked for our family to help each child feel special.
Remember Your Kids’ Activities
Imagine if you will having a bunch of very excited and energetic kids coming toward you all talking at once. They each have the most important thing in the world to say, but you can physically only listen to one of them at a time. This is my experience every. single. day. The nappers wake up as soon as the school kids get home and until they have snack in their mouth, they are all talking at once.
Sometimes in all that chaos I forget to follow up on what they were involved in that day. I have a large old fashioned paper calendar that hangs on our kitchen wall. Every activity that we participate in is written on that calendar. Without that thing, I would be totally lost. This calendar is strategically placed in between the pantry and the fridge so I can glance at it while preparing meals and snacks.
I put tests, field trips, class parties, etc. on that calendar. Each day as I am preparing snack, I will glance at the calendar so I can remember to ask the kids how their activities went. This has helped direct the conversations to help me stay on top of both school work and peer relationships.
Another thing we have started doing is “Special Time”. Each of the school-age kids has a specific day that they are assigned where they get to stay up an extra 15 minutes after the other kids go to bed. During this 15 minute special time we play games, do crafts, work on projects, etc. This is their chance to get my one-on-one undivided attention free from any other distraction.
How To Structure Special Time
There are always a million things that I need to get done and night time is the time where I wrap everything up from the day. I set every single thing aside for special time. Other kids are not allowed to join us, and phone calls and texts are not answered during this time. To make the most of this special time, we have established two extremely important ground rules:
15 Minute Timer
We set a 15 minute timer at the beginning of special time. They know that when the timer goes off special time is over. There is no negotiating for 5 more minutes. Instead, they are reassured that we have special time every week and I can’t wait to have special time with them again.
Each child has to have their activity planned out and presented that night at dinner. By having them present their plan to me, if the baby has been especially fussy I may veto a more involved activity. If the child doesn’t have an activity planned, I am able to give suggestions. Sometimes the activities presented will take much more than 15 minutes so we are able to figure out how to break it into manageable chunks together.
By having the activity all planned out we are able to jump right into having fun when we start the timer rather than spinning our wheels trying to come up with fun things. We have only been doing this for a couple of months, but so far we have made crafts and treats, played board games and video games, gone on walks or exercised. I’ve actually been amazed at how fun and effective 15 minutes can be.
The Benefits of Special Time
Having planned out special time gives each kid something to look forward to all week long. I will hear the kids talking together about what they did for their special time and coming up with new, fun ideas. On their special day, that’s all I hear about from that kid. They LOVE feeling special!
A huge benefit that I noticed happened recently just after special time. One night after playing a game, my child opened up and told me of a troubling incident that had happened at school. I had already asked each of the kids how their day was when they got home. They had each told me good things that had happened, but clearly asking “how was your day” isn’t enough. Because I had taken the time to help this child feel loved and secure, they felt comfortable opening up and sharing their feelings with me.
Everyone wants to know they are the center of someone’s world. Whether you have 1 kid or more, every child needs devoted one on one time to really be heard and loved.
What does special time look like in your family?