Saturday, July 19, 2008

Attention

If you've just stopped on by, I'm tackling questions that people wonder about "big" families. I personally still think of us as "just us" and forget that our family size is a bit of a cultural abnormality. We aren't perfect, please don't look at my baseboards or in my cupboards, and most certainly not in my bedroom, when you come over, but we are happy and love what's going on in our "large" family. Take a look at this post if you want to see how this on going series got started and please feel free to leave any other questions that I can give you my view on.

Rissa asked
4. Do you ever consciously feel that you need to give more attention or love to any one child, just to make sure it's all balanced, or does it seem to balance itself? I always wonder if it will be difficult to manage each child's specific emotional needs. And, along the same lines, do your children ever get jealous of each other because one seems to be receiving more attention than another?


This seems to be a big concern for a lot of people. I get asked by perfect strangers how I can give enough attention to each child.

I guess I would have to ask how much individual attention do you think your kids need? I sincerely believe that God allows us the time we need to accomplish each days tasks. If you really feel like you need to spend more individual time with your child then I would say write down everything you do in a day and figure out how you can re-prioritize your day.

As far as how it works for our family, I found that when I had only 1 child he needed me a LOT more. When our third baby was born, the older two played more together. As it is right now, our 4 older kids ages 23 months - 6 play together all day long. Mostly, they need me for a little redirecting sometimes and the occasional referee call.

People ask me if having them so close in age is hard. I'm not sure. I imagine it would be a lot harder if they didn't have each other to play with!

As far as emotional needs, I do find that it all balances itself out. I don't feel like you can divide just your time up equally doing certain things, because for instance - Isaac could care less about me having "talking time" with him for long periods of time. In fact, it would be more like torture if I had him sit and talk with me for the same amount of time Giovanna likes to sit and talk. (I have no idea where she gets it from. Let's just say my husband is thankful I get my thoughts out on my blog! ;-))

We have one particular child who seems to need a lot more positive affirmation than the others. I have to remember to verbally praise that child and notice the small things, otherwise s/he will start acting out for the attention. Another one seems to need more frequent hugs through out the day, and I try to make myself available when I'm approached for affection. This one was more difficult for me than I thought it would be. I didn't realize that I tend to shrink back from lots of touching and affection, it's definitely not my "love language." But I recognize that it is important for all the kids and have made that change to be more affectionate, but one in particular child gets grouchy if s/he hasn't gotten their daily quota of needed hugs :-)

But those are just "in the moment" kind of things. I like the phrase "mother in the moments" that I read once, I wish I could tell you where.

I will drop what I'm doing if there is a pressing need of someone's. Yes, that takes up a big part of my days. But I remind myself I'm a professional Mommy not a professional housekeeper.

I do want to tell you that it is rare that all of the kids need me at the same time. Well, unless it's related to food ;-) I can think of only one or two times where all 5 had a demand at the same time. It's much more frequent when 2 kids need something at the same time. And honestly, no two situations are the same. So.. I just make the call on what to address first the best I can.

We do like to give the kids individual attention. I read on another Mommy's blog about taking their kids out for "dates" and that it's not very involved. She shared about a trip to take her son to McDonalds just to get a milk shake together. I thought that was great and we should start doing special outings like that.

If Jake or I do any kind of errand or trip away from the house we often try to match up a kid who needs some individual time or if they like that particular task a lot. For instance, Isaac LOVES to shovel coal in the winter. So he always goes with Jake when we need to get some more for the coal stove.

The kids are always with us, by our sides, and we try to include them in almost everything we do. We really feel like all the needs are met and it balances out great. It also provides constant teaching and training moments all day long. Because it's not just about giving them attention. It's about building their character.

Of course, we always feel like taking the Bible to mean exactly what it says is the best way to approach life.

Deuteronomy 11:19 "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

3 comments:

Kristin said...

So true how keeping the kids with you all the time helps with the emotional needs. Our kids are with one of us almost ALL THE TIME. They know that if they have a problem or just need a smile, Mama or Daddy is close by. A smile can be shared by many and you never run out--no matter how many kids need one!

Katie said...

@kristin - I like that! You're right that all benefit from being around a smile from mom or dad!

Amy said...

I have one less child than you do - but I find all this to be quite true in our home as well. I am rarely needed by everyone, but often have two kids on my lap :)