Friday, March 12, 2021

7QT: Giving Individual Attention to Kids in a Big Family

 Happy Friday!  Phil and I talk often about how we can give our kids individual time and speak to them in their love languages and I thought I would try to compile what's worked well so far in this parenting gig.



Once our oldest child was able to babysit, we started taking the kids on one-on-one (sometimes two kids at once) dates.  These don't happen often, maybe once or twice a year per kid, but we try to make a thoughtful choice in what to do with them.  It usually involves eating out or going to an event (ice skating, movie, bowling) and making them feel special.  I know their favorite foods and pick restaurants that serve them or stop by the store for their favorite snacks.  JP’s love language is “buy me the spiciest chips you can find and some fried chicken.  Or better yet, just get me some spicy fried chicken”.



One of the best blessings of this past year was gaining a new workout buddy in my daughter Maggie.  We attend fitness classes together and do zoom workouts from home.  We get to have our own girl time each day and have most definitely bonded by doing this.  Phil likes to box/spar with the boys one by one, shoot hoops or throw the football.  PLaying with their Dad like this is definitely Andrew and Eamon's love language.  We take the family to the track once a week and we all run/walk together. It gives us time to run with each kid for awhile before moving on to the next. Can you believe the younger set of kids actually ask us when we can go run together?  They love it!  


Watching TV and Playing Games

We're pretty strict with screen time, so on the weekend we try to watch a show together.  We pick a kid's favorite show, or let them choose the movie, and then sit with them cuddled under a blanket and eat popcorn.  Right now, Alexander's favorite show is The Hardy Boys and our Sunday night viewing of an episode is his favorite time of the week.  His love language is "sit and watch a screen with me so I can talk through it the whole time" :)  We also pull out card games and board games and get to have individual time playing with a kid or two at once. 


Errands and Chores

This is such an easy one to take one kid at a time with us.  Sure, grocery shopping isn't the greatest thrill, but when you're the only kid who can make the snack choices for the week, you feel pretty powerful!  Declan loves tagging along no matter what the errand is and I can remember going to the dump with my dad and I loved it.  Little kids also love helping do chores, so we play music while we sweep together or I teach them how to bake with me, do this as often as you can before they realize that chores aren’t fun ;)


Physical Touch

Some of my kids are major huggers and others are like trying to catch feral cats.  But everybody needs physical touch in some way.  I love to take the time to hug each kid and tell them I love them.  I hope they will always remember feeling that.  We also do back rubs and dance parties and high fives, etc.  Brendan will come into my bedroom in the morning and lay right on top of me, his love language of physical touch is strong and I always feel bad for his future wife ;)



A lot of great conversations with older kids happen in the car.  They’re stuck with you and they don’t have to make eye contact, and so I use this time to ask lots of questions.  I’m nosy, but also they will start talking eventually, and follow-up questions are the best way to get in there.  I aim to be as open and understanding as possible because I want them to talk to me about anything.  We talk often about awkward subjects like puberty and drugs and what kids their age are doing.  I feel like if they’re ok discussing their hairy armpits with me then they know they can ask me anything.  I want them to feel like “I can’t wait to go talk to Mom about this” and not “I can’t let Mom know about this”.  Once they get phones, it’s easy to send a text wishing them well on their game or congratulating them on their progress report. Bonus points for stellar emoji use, especially with the middle school crowd. 


A Disclaimer

I also want to point out that even though we try to give our kids individual time, I don't think being from a big family, and therefore having less one-on-one time with Mom and Dad, is a bad thing.  Some personalities shine in the spotlight, and others like to hide amongst the chaos.  Giving kids siblings allows them to always have someone around to talk to and listen and play, and learning that you're not the center of everyone's attention is a good life lesson.  We don't want to raise entitled kids, we want to raise kids who are thrilled with any special time and gifts they get.  Little acts of love add up to kids who feel very loved, or at least that's what we're hoping.

Have a wonderful weekend everybody, and I pray you can find simple ways to make everyone in your home feel loved and appreciated.  {Linking up with Kelly}


  1. I loved these ideas Colleen! I love to give a hug a day to each of my kids. I’m curious, what are your rules for screen time? We try to limit it as well but I feel like it is all too easy for them to go over the limit so I’m looking for ways to help!

    1. Thanks Katie! I wrote about it over here:

  2. These are all great ideas! I especially like the one-on-one date idea.


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