Many times moms will ask me how I divide up my time with the children or how I ensure that each child gets enough “special time” with either mom or dad.
Most of the time, these questions come from moms with two children– who spend the bulk of their loving energy making sure they have done things equally for each child (I say this because I remember how I felt when I had two children…it was exhausting trying to ensure I did everything fairly and equally). To them, my answer is simple: have another baby. When you have three kids and you’re outnumbered, and quickly realize you can’t do everything equally, so you stop trying and just do your best.
The lesson here? Our best + God’s grace is way more than sufficient.
But to truly answer the question about making sure I spend time with my children as individuals, I’ll just tell you how David and I do that…because there really isn’t a formula.
First, we have a “freedom of speech” policy in our house that encourages children to speak up about their needs, wants and frustrations. The kiddos all know that they can come to us and let us know what their needs are without reservation. Most of the time, they sneak into my bathroom while I’m puttin’ on my Maybelline in the morning and ask if they can have some special time with me.
Daddy takes the kids to workouts in the mornings. That’s a big kid priviledge that every once in a while ends up at IHOP with piles of pancakes.
My husband takes the kids out hunting usually one or two at a time. Ducks and gators have come to fear the Rebacks. At least in our mind. Hours spent in the quiet of the canoe end up as priceless memories.
I rarely run an errand alone. If I am going to Target or Publix, someone always tags along. We’ll stop at our favorite Thai restaraunt after and talk over spring rolls.
I rarely run alone. Who needs iTunes when you have a spritely kiddo chatting your ear off about the latest movie, their favorite new book or game or some injustice they’ve seen on the news?
And the gym? Forget it. I never make it there by myself. I always have a partner in crime that pushes me past my normal routine.
I may sneak out the backdoor to throw a few passes with Judson. Or Courson sees me out in the yard pulling weeds and comes to work alongside me. If I am quietly folding laundry, Ryli walks up and starts telling me about her studies.
You see, it’s not something I schedule, but I am intentional. In the end, I bet it all pretty much evens out. I’m available all the time and sure, somebody always needs me. But in the course of a week, there are a dozen opportunities for any child to hop in and talk with mom or dad, or for us to reach out and include them in what we are doing.
And every night, I take the time to tuck them in and listen bedside.
There are countless opportunities to pour into each child as an individual. The biggest prerequisite is to just be available and open to giving up a lot of “me time” to listen and walk alongside them.
And although spending special time with each child is valuable and important, only setting specific times to do so will really crush the organic opportunities God brings to fulfill this need. Just keep your eyes and ears open. Grab the moments when you can. And enjoy every second.