Several years ago, when my oldest was twelve or so, she tearfully confided to me that she felt like she was never able to have a conversation with me without being interrupted by one of the other kids, whether it was a spill that needed wiping up, an explosive diaper that needed changing, or an opinion that one of them felt they needed to share, there was always an interruption.
I realized then that she saw herself only as a part of a large group, and not as a special individual. It broke my heart that my sensitive girl (and all my other children) felt overwhelmed with so many needs and opinions in the house. I wanted to be able to hear all of her dreams and concerns and wishes and fears, but I had to admit that she was right. It really was hard to be able to focus on one single child when there were so many that needed me just as much.
That's when I instituted the Half Birthday and Birthday Month Special Day With Mom. During a child's half birthday month and again during their birthday month, they may choose up to 3 activities and plan a full day alone with just Mom. Sometimes these activities are local.
Most of the kids love to go to the mall for ice skating and ice cream.
Going out to eat is a treat, no matter what your age!
The zoo is also a popular choice. Any one on one time with Mom is a cherished activity.
Occasionally we have an opportunity to travel for the birthday or half birthday special day. My 12 year old qualified to compete nationally in level 8 gymnastics, so we got to fly to Rhode Island! This was a VERY special Birthday Month Special Day With Mom.
My 10 year old was invited to play in a competitive soccer tournament at the coast! The two of us hit the road and spent the whole weekend together enjoying the sand and surf for her Half Birthday Special Day With Mom.
Different years have brought financial limitations or financial blessings, so my children know that we must plan accordingly. One special outing may be limited to a matinee movie, IHOP with a coupon, and window shopping on the square. Another time, if money and the opportunity is available, we may be able to take a flight to a fun destination.
Wherever we go and whatever we have planned, just being together for the entire day (or weekend) and being able to listen intently to all the heartfelt thoughts each child pours out is worth more than all the gold in the world. It does require sacrifice on the part of those left at home. They must make do without Mom until she gets back, but they willingly do this, knowing they are soon to take their own turn with me. They each look forward to their special days and spend months planning them.
I really feel like this is such an important way to ensure that each child in the family knows that I value each one of them and care about their thoughts and feelings.
How do you make sure you spend individual time with each of your children?