Spending Individual Time with Kids

moms of many manageWelcome to this weeks edition of 4 Moms, 35 Kids: How Moms of Many Manage.  This week we’re talking about spending individual time with our kids. Oh, the worry and guilt that this topic can wreak on this mom of ten, but before I get started don’t forget that you can read the thoughts of other moms of many:

So how do I spend individual time with each of my children? I’ve heard of parents having elaborate plans and schedules, taking each of their children out alone on a regular basis or scheduling one-on-one time with every child each day or each week. Well, that doesn’t happen here.

Do I feel guilty? Sometimes.

What I do is I pray daily that I would die to self and that God would bless us with relationships that bring glory and honor to Him. I choose to spend the vast majority of my time interacting with my children. I choose to turn off the radio, close the computer and not head out to run errands alone and we choose to limit outside the house, entertainment-focused activities.

I pray with my children, talk with my children, work, learn and play with my children. We live our lives walking side by side and in the midst of that living we spend individual time with each other, even though it may not be on the calendar.

Please don’t misunderstand, I fail and fail frequently. There are many times when I’d rather be alone, when I don’t want to answer another question, solve another dispute or hear another childish story. There are times when I choose to unplug and, by my actions I deny the fact that these children are precious blessings from God, but that choice does not bring the peace and contentment that I think I will find. It seems that “me-time” begets the desire for more and more “me-time” and that the real peace and contentment is found in  choosing to remain plugged-in to my kids.

So what does individual time look like in our home?

Snuggling under a big, fuzzy blanket with another early riser while reading a Bible in 90 assignment.

Stopping whatever I’m doing to sit down on the floor right where I am and read a picture book to a toddler.

Listening to stories about dreams or the previous days activities during a reading lesson.

Cleaning out a closet, mopping the floor or putting up rain gutter bookshelves with a helper.

Starting laundry, making bread, running errands, everything is an opportunity to spend individual time with a child.

I also make an effort to occasionally join each of the children in doing their favorite activity with them. I may give Savannah a pedicure, put together a puzzle with Colby, cook with Amber or tackle a fix-it project with one of the boys.

There are times when we notice that one child or another needs more from us. On these occasions it’s simple to pull that child aside for a project, a snuggle or just  an opportunity for them to talk.

If  by your actions you show your children that they are your delight and your priority, not a drudgery or just one of the things on your ‘to-do’ list, that relationship will grow and develop and both of you will desire to spend time together.

Now go ahead and visit the other moms of many to read how they spend individual time with their kids:
Smockity Frocks
Life in a Shoe
The Common Room

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For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.

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14 Responses to Spending Individual Time with Kids
  1. abba12
    February 17, 2011 | 8:07 am

    “There are times when we notice that one child or another needs more from us. ”

    How do you know when these times are, what signs appear, or how does it show? I find myself worrying that I won’t know until it’s too late. I’ve seen it happen in some families where one child seems to just go by without being noticed, or is trying to get attention and not recieving it, but it seems the parents become blind to it. My biggest fear in having a large family is to become like that.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I pray daily that I would die to self and that God would bless us with relationships that bring glory and honor to Him.

    Ultimately it is God who blesses us with wisdom and understanding as we deal with our children and recognizing our dependence upon Him is imperative.

    When a parent is spending day after day engaging with their children (not merely being in the same room but talking, cuddling and working together) they really learn to know their children and it’s easier to tell when something is not right. (I may not always know what isn’t right, but I do know that there is something that needs to be worked on.) It’s expressed in how they relate and respond to Mark and me and to their siblings. It’s expressed in how they go about their daily tasks and in a lack of the fruit of the Spirit and spiritual growth and maturity.

    A while back I wrote a series of posts about having your child’s heart and that is probably also appropriate to this conversation.

    Our responsibility is not to raise perfect children. Our responsibility is to trust God, to seek His guidance and to obey His commands as He enables us by His Holy Spirit.

    Does that make sense?


  2. Cheryl @Treasures from a Shoebox
    February 17, 2011 | 8:21 am

    I do agree that the world makes too big a deal out of “each child needs lots of individual time”. I read where one mom schedules time alone with each child. With 10 children, I would get nothing else done! We are almost always together, and the children like it! We do one-on-one time during occasional errands. I also like to take them for an ice cream on their birthdays. When I recognize that one child needs some individual time, we will cook together. This is usually enough time to share hearts.


  3. Tami
    February 17, 2011 | 11:03 am

    We only have four (soon to be 5) right now and we do schedule one-on-one time with mom. It’s only a 15 minute block of reading time together (adds up to an hour a day, which is not that huge of an amount of time), but we all enjoy it. They get to pick out the book and I read it to them. It’s funny, though, they know it’s “their time” but they are allowed to invite siblings to come listen too, and this happens fairly often. I realize that as our family grows this arrangement may not grow with us, but I figure why not enjoy the things I can enjoy while I’m in this season with a bunch of little ones.


  4. Cari
    February 17, 2011 | 12:55 pm

    There was a time when I felt so bad about not having “alone” time. So I made this plan, and worked out a time table. The day came to start the “alone with mom time”, I was excited. To my dismay my child didn’t share my excitment. “Why do I need alone time with you when we are together ALL the time. Maybe I could have alone time with Grandma?” I questioned all my homeschooled children and they ALL agreed they needed alone time just not the kind of time I was thinking. The point is, listen to your children. They will let you know when they need extra time with you.


  5. chantelle
    February 17, 2011 | 2:29 pm

    Thank you so much for this encouraging post. For letting me know that you sometimes fail, that at times you do desire to be alone, but are striving to “bring glory and honor to Him” everyday. Your statement is so true when you said “It seems that “me-time” begets the desire for more and more “me-time” and that the real peace and contentment is found in choosing to remain plugged-in to my kids.” Thank you. 🙂


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Yes, by nature I’m a peace and quiet, ‘leave me alone’ type of person and I do fail often.

    Your comments are always encouraging to me, thank you!

    Now, back to the kids… 🙂


  6. Brandy K
    February 17, 2011 | 7:34 pm

    can you recommend missionary biography titles to read to the kids?


    Jama Reply:

    My children LOVE the Christian Heroes Then and Now series. Not all of the titles are about missionaries, but many of them are.



  7. Juliana B
    February 17, 2011 | 7:44 pm

    Thanks for all the great posts; I’ve got a question for Q&A (two actually). Would you mind talking about what you serve for lunches? I’m struggling a lot with lunch time right now.

    Also, potty training. My 3 year old son has the pee pee thing down for the most part, but we still have to take him at intervals rather than him telling us, but totally refuses to poop on the potty and is starting to hold it until inconvenient times (i.e. bed time). Any suggestions?



  8. Teresa
    February 17, 2011 | 10:02 pm

    Thank you for this post–of all the ones I’ve read by you, I think this one has been my favorite. I appreciate you being “real” about the challenges of dying to self, and all the daily, minute by minute choices we make as stay at home moms to be emotionally/spiritually/mentally present for our children. I am a day dreamer and a “to do” list person, and I never expected being with my kids 24/7 to be so stretching for me, but it really is. And they are such “easy” kids to be around, so sweet–but just the fact that they are children and act like it is exhausting. 🙂 You are absolutely right–there is no way to have the wisdom to recognize our children’s unique needs without the help of the Holy Spirit at all times. The days I “get it right” and remain relaxed and connected with my kids enough to take advantage of the little moments I have with them, I always notice a huge difference in their attitudes. It’s intangible but essential, and I so appreciate your ability to articulate what “being there” for each one of your kids looks like and feels like. It’s something I continue to try to catch a hold of as my children grow and change, and it’s a constant challenge! Thank you for being an inspiration and an encouragement, Kimberly.


  9. Brittany
    April 29, 2011 | 9:07 pm

    What has helped me is not so much “alone time” but making sure I start the day letting them know I’m happy they are here. Just like any kindergarten class, I have a morning circle-time. We welcome each other and take turns getting big hugs. Since we are always together I tend to take them for granted. But I can show them every morning that I am happy to see them, and I love them. We do ordinary circle things and Bible verses, a hymn of the month, and I try to incorporate things for the older ones as well as my toddler, but we all participate together. So… they are not alone with me but they are each getting my attention first thing in the morning. When I fail to do this I think our day doesn’t start off very well.


  10. Karyn
    July 30, 2011 | 7:04 am

    Hi Kimberly
    Thanks for sharing this. I struggle so with letting go of “getting everything done”. My children are home with me all day and I am often too busy organising or cooking or cleaning to just be with them and I find myself getting irritable at them if they keep coming to me instead of doing “what they should be doing” when I know they just need to be with me! I love having them with me and the best days are always those when I’m closest to them, doing things alongside them. So hard to die to self and spend time on what’s of eternal value. Thanks for your advice. much love, Karyn


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Oh that dying to self thing.

    It is so hard and I never want to do it, but don’t you find that when you do the right thing rather than the thing you want to do, that God multiplies the blessing beyond what you expect?

    And yet, the next time I struggle again. *sigh*


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