March 20, 2008,
M.Y. asks from Hanford, CA on March 08, 2008
How to Give 6 Kids Their Own Special Time, and How Can I Get a Quieter House??
I have a large family and have no idea how to make each kids feel special. Plus, my house is very loud...how can I get them to quiet down?
So What Happened?™
Thank you all for some really great ideas, I have tried to start a special day per week as well as anytime I or my husband run errands someone goes with us. As for a quiter house....well I may never get that...but Im okay with it.
Thanks again to all who gave advice.
V.G. answers from Los Angeles on March 20, 2008
I don't have any advice from experience but I can direct you to Rocky's blog, she's also a momma in So Cal with 6 kids (3 of which are adopted). Her blog is entitled, 'Muthahood Ain't for Sissies' www.muthahood.com
N.S. answers from San Diego on March 09, 2008
One of my friends has 5, she lets one stay up 30 minutes later than the others on their "night of the week." I know that it is only 30 minutes, but it really helps. It also helps the others go to sleep, because if they fight the whole sleep thing, then they lose their night and it goes to the kid that didn't get to enjoy the time with the parents.
S.T. answers from Los Angeles on March 09, 2008
I raised 7 children, my "big kids," a family of 4 siblings more or less left on our doorstep when my first husband and I were just married at 23 and they ranged in age from 4 to 8, and my "little kids," who were 10 years younger. Of course things were much different then. By the time the younger ones came along and were old enough to play noisily, we lived in Irvine in the first planned village, and they could safely play outside in the greenbelts just outside our house. They could work off noise and steam with tag, hide and seek, kick the can, pick up games of baseball and touch football, amateur "Olympics" they organized themselves, and theatrical performances they also organized. Actually, it would be just as safe today to do that, but we almost never see children outside anymore. Parents are kept so frightened, mostly by TV stories about kidnapping, and children are too often allowed to sit inside in front of the TV and computers. And, of course, we have kindergarten children with homework!
Our home was always filled with classical music. Believe it or not, it is very soothing, and aids concentration. We didn't have a television blaring in every room, or even in one room, most of the time. When we finally did get a television, our children were required to choose, together, one program they wanted to watch each evening.
I think one of the most important things we did to give individual attention and recognition was to actively search for an area of interest and natural ability of each child, and then follow up with excellent instruction in that area, attendance at events, and attention to practice times, lessons, etc. As a result, five of the seven became accomplished professional artists, including three dancers, a ceramics artist and a visual artist. Another is an accomplished pianist and composer, although not as a professional. The one who never became an artist per se became a tile and marble contractor known for his craftsmanship and artistry. Because we weren't forced to spend hours overseeing meaningless busy-work homework, we could do all these things, and make trips on Sundays to museums, the zoo, etc. (And our children did well in the excellent Irvine schools and in college, by the way, despite learning problems for the four older children, and the fact that they learned English after coming to this country from Germany).
We also encouraged reading. We both read for enjoyment, and encouraged our children to do so. At one point, I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to all the kids together at the dinner table, a chapter at a time. Reading is a quiet fun activity. Have everyone except the very littlest choose a fun reading book or even a magazine like Cricket, and set aside a family reading time even as short as 20 minutes. The parents can read to the little ones. This sets up a good habit, and establishes a quiet time for everyone. Board games are also great, and can cut down on noisy horseplay.
I hope you are enlisting the older kids to help with the younger ones, and generally to help out. We always had a family "cleaning time." I individually taught each child who was old enough a specific cleaning task, spending several sessions with each one. Then we had a chart and rotated so no one got stuck with one boring thing. On the weekend, we all cleaned together for an hour, and got a lot done, so everyone could enjoy more free time. Special time doesn't always have to be doing something "fun." It can be fun to work together, parent and child, or to practice the piano together, or to set up a back yard ceramics studio together.
I do have to admit that I had the full help of my professor husband, and that was able to put off a full-time out of the home job until the youngest was four. I know there are many more pressures now for kids to put in hours of homework, and that takes away from family time and time for other individual activities. I think that parents need to prioritize and speak up about these things and not just always give in. My kids are all well educated and well-read, each in his or her own way, but they have also travelled, learned individual sports, and pursued great hobbies and interests.
Good luck with your big family. I miss having mine at home. They are all now in their fifties and forties and scattered from Hawaii to Florida to Nevada.
R.E. answers from Los Angeles on March 09, 2008
I had 7 kids (all grown up now)- I empathize with you! In my opinion only you might want to have a family meeting about the noise or whatever issue you want to address, then agree on a quiet time period when it most bothers you. If you let them all know how much you really need it, their love for you will no doubt win them over. Then decide on which time(s) would work out best, have everyone sign an agreement to that effect, and make a chart showing each child's name and days of the week. Check off each day they are keeping the agreement, and thank them with a reward at the end of each week. Agreeing in advance on rewards and consequenses for NOT keeping the the quiet time is also important. Kids feel secure when they know what the rules are. I started my own website with tips to help moms and dads organize the kids and help behavior issues, at gomommygo.com. Sample charts are on my website where I drew all the pictures. But I shall add one for 'being quiet' That's a GOOD idea. Let me know if you think of other behaviors you think of!
R.F. answers from San Diego on March 09, 2008
I have lunch dates with my kids. My youngest is now six and they are all in school together for the first time. I take the oldest children individually out of school during their lunch time which is about 45 minutes long 1-2 times a month (every week for me). I don't take the youngest one because he is in Kinder. which only lasts 3 hours, so I still have the entire morning to spend with him. When I check out the older ones from the office we sometimes go out to eat and other times I'll bring food and we'll just sit on the grass in front of the school together. In previous years I would take my younger son with me since he wasn't in school yet. It wasn't exactly one on one time but they knew that I was there just for them. It's so hard to find time after school or during the weekends for me to be alone with each child. This has worked very well for me during the last few years, it's inexpensive and the other kids aren't very aware of who is spending time with me each Wednesday. By the way, I take them out on Wednesdays because that is there early day (each week the teachers get one extra hour for planning) at school so their lunch time ends only about 30 minutes before I would be there to pick them up anyways. I also use our weekly lunch dates as a reward. It is a great incentive to follow the rules and show love towards their siblings when it is there week to go to lunch. I don't think there is any better reward for a child than receiving special time with their parents.
D.L. answers from Los Angeles on March 08, 2008
I have 4 kids and please email me if you get a great response to this as my house is a zoo most of the time.
C.H. answers from Los Angeles on March 09, 2008
I only have 2 kids who are grown now. I worked full time so I would take them seperately for an hour or so on a special outing, maybe ice cream, or shopping for something they needed for school. We always had a great time catching up. They tell me today that really ment alot to them
R.W. answers from San Diego on March 09, 2008
I have 5 kids, ages 8 to 1, and they're noisy. I try to make them notice when they're shouting so they can control their volume. I'm constantly reminding them they don't need to yell.
Just this morning I asked my kids what they wanted to do with the extra family time we had this week, since my husband is taking some time off work. I asked if they wanted one-on-one time with a parent, or just whole family activities. They all wanted to do things with the whole family, and one child also requested one-on-one time. Kids will tell you what they're missing.
N.B. answers from Salt Lake City on March 09, 2008
My parents had 12 children (all single births) and I remember it being very noisy. When my mom wanted us to quiet down she would start whispering. It didn't matter what she was saying, we would all quiet down to hear her. Another thing my parents did was put a tape recorder in the main part of the house for an afternoon and just let it record whatever went on. It was funny to see who actually made all the noise and their reactions to finding out it was them. My dad made copies of the tape for each of the older kids who had already moved out. I requested a copy when I went to college and have loved pulling it out once in a while just to remember what it was like.
As for the one on one time, my parents alternated weekends taking one of us on an inexpensive activity that we chose. They would write it down on their calendar so that they wouldn't forget whose turn it was. Those are some of my fondest memories. I will never forget my first "date" with my dad after I started dating boys my own age. I chose to just go out to a small diner so we could have good conversation and found out that my dad isn't the greatest conversationalist. I asked my mom if she felt the same way when they were dating and she said that on their first date she thought, "I can't date this guy, he doesn't say anything!" (She loves to talk and could go on for hours if you let her.) It was a great lesson as a teenager to see that the first date doesn't always show how the rest of your lives would be together. I plan to do the weekly "dates" with my kids. Right now I only have one but the second one will be here shortly! I hope I helped!
A.T. answers from Los Angeles on March 09, 2008
first of all, my hat's off to you for raising such a big family. I can imagine it must be hard to give them each special time, and because there are so many of them, you might need to let them know that you love them each very much but that they have to share because there is only one of you. How about each kid has their special day, where you give them 20 minutes or more (if you can) of your time for an activity that is centered on them only. For the older ones, 20 minutes might not be enough, but you can negotiate. And the older ones might be able to understand that you are going to need their help around the house, if they want you to have special time for everyone.
It doesn't necessarily quantity time to make a child feel special, but quality.
And one way you can make them feel secial everyday and all day long and to let them know how much you love them, catch them at being good, express how proud you are of them, display their art work, take pictures of them and put them on the walls, make them feel important by giving them chores and responsibilities and explaining that without them, this house can't function and you need everyone, etc...
You can email me off list (check my website: http://healingjourney.marriage-family.com) if you want and I can mail you documents and handouts about that subject (I have been teaching parenting classes for the last 5 years and have lots of resources).
And finally, you HAVE TO take care of yourself. I hope you can maybe find a baby-sitter once a week or once a month for a couple of hours, and recharge your batteries. If you are tired and empty, you have nothing to give, your kids feel it and everybody looses.
I hope this helps :)
A. Thompson, MFT