My wife and I enjoyed the webinar this past Wednesday evening, Using Jewish Values To Raise Resilient, Responsible and Independent Kids and we have a question regarding the class:
There is no question that devoting 1 on 1 time with our children is important. Our 2 oldest are away for the summer and we have had a chance to spend a great amount of quality time with the younger 2. As a result, there is better connection and fewer melt downs. We are expecting our 5th child soon (yikes) and we have no idea how to consistently give our children the time they deserve. It seems that the older ones suck up a lot of attention due to homework and conversation. Bedtime is always a bit of a problem and I am afraid staggering the bedtime (as all 4 children share the same room) will just lead to later bedtimes for everyone. We did try to rotate and have a date night for 1 child per week. However, it was hard to be consistent with that.
We struggle with being able to devote time in the morning and evening as well.
Thanks so much for your question. It is really tough to give kids private time.
Here are my thoughts:
1. I think it is great that you are noticing that when kids get more attention they behave better. That being said, with 4 kids in the house and one on the way it is tough. I think kids also just sense the fact that you are trying and they do appreciate the effort that you expend in trying to get them that attention even if you are not successful every night or every week.
2. With a new baby on the way, please cut yourself a little slack, it is great to be able to give individual attention to everyone and you will certainly have less meltdowns but it is not always realistic.
3. When I have a problem like this, I like to throw it out to my kids and discuss it:
“Mommy and I think it is important that we spend private time with each of you everyday, but we seem to be having trouble following through- do you have any ideas on what we could do?”
(Even if the younger kids don’t exactly understand, let them sit in on the problem solving session, it makes them feel important and they start to hear the language of problem solving and solution oriented thinking)
Don’t judge all the ideas, take each one seriously even if you know they are not feasible. You can even write them all done:
Some examples of crazy ideas:
Everyone should take turns going out for ice cream every night, we will take turns every 15 minutes.
We should be allowed to stay up until 10pm, until we have our private time.
Examples of relatively good ideas:
When we come home from school we should set the timer and stay with Mommy in the kitchen while and help while she makes dinner
One person can clear up dinner with Mom and Dad and that can be their private time.
Go through each idea and say what you would think would work and what would not work. If anyone of them speaks to you, you can try it out. If it doesn’t work, you can go back to the drawing board and say,
“Oh boy, we tried to have private time when we clean up the kitchen, but it seems to be too busy then. Anyone have any other ideas? We really want to make this work for our family…”
What is nice about this technique is that:
- You are teaching your child how to brainstorm in a group setting
- You are building their confidence that they can come up to solutions to real problems
- Kids can see how much you value private time and family
- When we let them kids come up with the greatest and most creative solutions.
You will probably have to reevaluate and restructure once the baby comes, but that is all part and parcel of having a beautiful large family. It is the normal ebb and flow of family life.
I hope this helps!