Raising a big family has so many wonderful perks I do not think many people realize. Your kids have someone to play with, there is always something going on, and it really is fun. However, if you ask most parents raising big families what they could use more of, it would be either money or time. You just do not have enough of it; however, you learn how to maximize what you do have. Parenthood, no matter the size of your family, really allows you to develop resourcefulness. As our family has grown over the years, how we spend both is quite the balancing act. Over time, my husband and I have creatively found ways to spend quality time with each kid in our big family.
Though the natural flow of a big family allows most moments to be together, there is something to be said about spending individual time. If I have learned anything, it is how different and unique each of my children are. Each one has their special personality, quirky interests, and desire to be seen in the midst of the large family dynamic. So being able to spend quality time with each kid is very intentional.
That intentional time is possible and in fact is the very glue that allows raising a big family to really thrive. With four kids of our own, having special time may look different for each kid. I will tell you it does wonders for everyone, including us as parents.
Ways to Creatively Spend Quality Time with Each Kid While Raising A Big Family
Speak Their Love Language
“Hugs can do great amounts of good, especially for children.”-Diana, princess of wales
Before you jump into all the ways to spend quality time, define how your kids receive love. Is it receiving gifts? Healthy physical touch? Words of affirmation or encouragement? Too often as parents we can presume that our kids like gifts. I am completely guilty of this. I will pick up a gift, and still wonder why my child is asking for more. It is because that’s not how they best interpret or receive how I love them. So, start by asking! It may sound simple, but it is amazingly effective. If your child is unsure, take some time to sit with your partner and share observations. How does your child express love to you or their siblings? These are all telling signs and helpful directives.
Less Can Be More
Also note that quality over quantity will win every time! Having a large family and desiring to create spaces of quality time can feel daunting if you’re trying to do too much of it. Look at your calendar and the natural rhythms of your family. One or two times of quality moments will speak far more than five that were rushed and lacked sincerity. Providing individual attention can cultivate lasting memories especially if they are of quality.
Be Intentional and Creative
There are a myriad of fantastic approaches and ideas on how to tackle this element of big families. More than anything, I truly find that making it happen is at the top of the list. I have learned the hard way that your kids just want to be with you, and they desire to be seen by YOU. So, whether your creative time looks different than someone else’s, make sure you’re intentionally doing it. Here are some creative ways to incorporate quality time into the fabric of raising a big family:
Theme Date Night
Our kids LOVE having one-on-one date nights. They know these are incredibly significant as they do not get to happen often. Creating a themed date night even puts a fun spin on the event. Is it a superhero date, where you both wear capes? Or is it a throwback date night with your teen where you get to do all the things you would in your teens? Allowing your child to choose the location, attire, and activity gives each kid a sense of importance. These dates truly give you the time to listen and learn more about your kid.
This idea of pajama walks is so fun and simple, most certainly a winner with smaller kids in the family. Who does not love staying in their pajamas? Taking a walk in a silly and unconventional way allows for the time to not feel so ordinary. You can even take time to spot new elements of nature or play a game of “I Spy.”
Cooking a Meal together
As messy as this sounds, give it a try! Rotating the sous chef of the evening is an honorable treat. Purchase an apron and if you’re up for it and a chef’s hat. Cooking together with a child not only builds skills, but it makes memories without having to spend a lot of money. You already have to cook for the day, invite a little helper. Especially for boys, working side by side opens up conversations that may not happen in other settings
Do you have a kid who is into particular video games? If so, consider spending an hour or two playing with just them. This will be a divide and conquer strategy. While you are spending game time, the other children and your partner can enjoy a movie night. Make these moments a big deal. Set up popcorn, pick up movie snacks, and lay out blankets. During game time do a little research to find new moves or how to pass a difficult level, you will definitely win points!
Chores or Working Together
With lots of messes and daily chores coming alongside a child and work together. Once again some of the best quality moments are organic and unexpected. However, with intentionality you will know it is quality time while your child is just glad to have you around. Strike up a conversation in the midst of loading the dishwasher or folding clothes. Quality time is an opportunity to get to know your child and for them to learn a bit more about you. Some of my best conversations are during chores.
Every Family is Unique
No matter how you choose to spend quality time, make it your own! Being creative, intentional, and carving out opportunities within your big family is so important. Each kid will hold these quality moments forever and have personalized stories that are just for you and them to share. Big families are such a blessing and practicing quality time with each kid allows you to savor all it has to offer.
Don’t forget to also make time for quality time for you and your spouse!