Tuesday, March 5, 2013

quality time in big families

our four boys keep us busy. and sometimes it feels like we're herding them around like cattle more than parenting them. in an attempt to focus on each child as an individual, we've established mommy minutes and daddy dates.

originally the idea was to actually take each boy on a DATE where we left the house once a month and had an outting. but after a few attempts at this, we realized it was usually not happening. so we changed it to work for our family.
monday through thursday, i spend 15 minutes with one child a day. -doing something they enjoy. -one-on-one. these are our mommy minutes.
on the weekends, my husband spends time with each child for 15 minutes. these are their daddy dates.

now 15 minutes may not sound like much, but you can play a few rounds of "uno" or "connect 4" in 15 minutes. plus it had to be doable. if it was a larger chunk of time, and we were running late doing things like homework and chores, it wouldn't happen. and anyhow, 30 minutes of candyland is enough to kill a man. or drive him to insanity. either one.

the hubs has set some parameters for his dates and i've set different ones for my minutes.
my parameters are that it has to:
1. be inside (because i'm usually alone with all four boys when we do mine and i want to be able to monitor them even if passively)
2. not involve tv or phone games
3. not involve wrestling (i tried wrestling one week and it went badly. very badly.)

some things we do for mommy minutes:
read together
build forts

we use their days of the week to help remember whose turn it is.

mommy minutes 
monday: gabe
tuesday: judah
wednesday: elijah
thursday: asher
friday off

daddy dates:
saturday and sunday*

*the hubs usually does all the daddy dates on sunday after nap because saturdays are usually spent running around town.

we usually do mommy minutes around 5pm. i have even set a timer on my phone to help me remember. this gives us 15 minutes to play before i need to make school lunches and start dinner.

the other boys either play upstairs or outside in the back yard while we do it and they are NOT allowed to come into the room where we are playing. occasionally someone is bleeding or broken and we have to pause for awhile. but for the most part, once we taught them that they each get a turn and cannot monopolize others' turns, they were ok with it.

we don't do this every week. if we have company or are traveling or if we're on a school holiday like Christmas, we don't do them. but we try to do them pretty consistently because with four young ones, i want to make sure i'm making an effort to connect with them. my kids aren't in sports or extracurriculars yet so our afternoons are spent doing homework, chores, and playing outside. if you're busy hauling kids to soccer and don't get home till after dinner, this wouldn't be doable.

so that's how we roll. it's not perfect. there are days i would rather sit down and read or watch mindless tv than play another round of "don't break the ice," but so far it has given us some special time to enjoy one another's company.

i'm linking up here. come see!

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