21 answers

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?

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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.

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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


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.

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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.

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!

Hi M.,
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.

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.


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

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.

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!


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

Hi M.,

I have seven kids (19, 16, 13, 11, 7, 4, 23 months), and one on the way. What I've found is that if I really listen to each one--without allowing another one to interrupt, I can make the best use of the moments that come up every day. I have to consciously stop myself from doing whatever I'd rather be doing to focus on them and what they are saying, which is important to them. Also, if I happen to find myself alone with a child, I make the most of that time together and engage him/her in conversation, a game, or reading aloud. I haven't been that great at scheduling a once/week "date" with a child, but I sometimes go on errands with just a child (and the baby), which also gives us some special time together. Check out books by Bill and Martha Sears; they had 8 or 9, and were much more organized than me about time together!
As far as quiet--do you have a lot of boys??? I have three--and soon to be four, and they are noisy and need a lot of outdoor time. We have "outdoor" voices and "indoor" voices, and I do remind them to use their indoor voices in the house. Also, with so many kids, I keep extraneous noise to a minimum; we don't have background noise like tv or radio, as this just adds to the din and my brain cant take it. Sometimes I just need to get outdoors with them, as the space absorbs the sound, whereas it just bounces off four walls indoors!!

SPECIAL TIME: Try scheduling one evening a week (or one day every other week) that is Prince (or Princess) Day when you concentrate on one child. You'll need to post a calendar so each child knows when to expect his/her Special Day. Maybe on that day, the Prince/Princess selects the family activity, or the mommy-Prince activity. Maybe the Prince/Princess doesn't have to do normal chores on that day and maybe he/she gets to select what to eat for dinner. Be sure to schedule a special Mommy day/week as well when you're treated as a queen!

QUIET TIME: It's probably not reasonable to expect quiet all the time, but maybe you can designate 7-8 PM as quiet time when everyone selects a quiet activity, such as reading. Another idea, which I saw work in a classroom of 30+ first graders: When the volume is unbearable, switch the lights off and on several times. Tell the children that when they see the lights blink, they need to lower their voices. If they are in different rooms, instead of switching the lights, try making a noise (blow a whistle, ring a bell, clap some pie pans together).

Good luck!

I can relate!!! i've got 5 kids myself - 15, 15, 14, 9, and 6 and often have others from the extended family there (particularly our little 1 1/2 yr old!).
my 6 yr old needs me the most!!! he's my only bio son. so...what my fiance and i have done, is make a DATE for each one. take them somewhere alone. it can be only 2 hours once a month. it's amazing how that changes things! the little guys need it more often. sometimes just in the form of watching a favorite movie/tv show with them sitting on your lap. maybe monday, you spend 30 minutes watching a favorite show with one on your lap, tues, the next, etc. sometimes that helps too! it's not the amount of time, it's the effort!
quiet??? well, that's another story! we chose our poison here. but, i promise, as they get older, they want to hide in their rooms on the phone more!! hehehe...we have the kids with lights out by 9:30 on the week days. it's hard for the older ones, but gives us a few minutes of quiet.
good luck!!!


I just wanted to concur with a previous response. There is a great power in whispering when you want everyone to quiet down. I am a mom or 4 (3 of them are 22 months apart) and was once a director of a midweek kids program at my church. We had approx. 50 children ranging in age from 1st grade to 6th grade. At the opening time it was just me most of time in front of all of them getting them to listen to what was planned for the afternoon. I learned about the power of a whisper one time when I was getting over a sore throat and lost my voice. When I started talking and the 50 children couldn't hear me the instant quiet was astounding. They wanted to hear what I said but usually we adults raise our voices as the children raise their's and wonder why it is so loud.
Try it sometime. You can tell your children that when you want it quiet you will come up to them with a quiet voice. Tell them that you might be asking them if they want a treat or if they want you to read to them or... They will have to quiet down if they want to hear what you are saying. Clue your husband in (if there is one) so he doesn't think you have gone completely off your rocker. Also turning off TV's or limiting their volume helps immensely.
Remember to be calm and quiet yourself especially when you want it quiet. Also going for a "time out" for yourself works wonders.


I am having my fourth, and I don't have any advice on how to get a quieter house, I think that is part of the territory. I love the noise and chaos. I can tell other people want to leave my house after about 10 minutes, but I think it's great.
As for the kids feeling special, I have a friend who had "parent dates" growing up. One parent and one child have an outing, dinner or a movie, or trip to a museum. It is hard with six, but you and your husband can alternate taking each kid separately somewhere, while the other kids stay with the other parent. You can even bring them on errands and just tack on a special treat, like a stop at the ice cream store or something.
Or pick one day a year each kid gets to play hooky from school and hang out with you, and do whatever they choose. I remember days like that and cherish them.
Good luck.

I had to laugh when I read your post. If you can figure out how to get your 6 six kids to quiet down, please let me know! I've only got 2 kids and I can't seem to do it! :-)

But seriously, with kids comes noise. There's just no way around it. The house would be loud with 6 adults, too. But that doesn't mean that they have to scream and shout like wild animals. We have two little girls (6 and 3) who love to shriek when they get excited or when they're having fun playing. We have a rule in our house that normal noise is ok, but absolutely no yelling or screaming is allowed. If they do it, they get a warning. If they do it again, they have to stop whatever activity is causing them to scream. 99 times out of 100 the warning is enough.

As for making the kids feel special, that's an easy one! Give them each a portion of time (even if it's only 1/2 hour) of your undivided attention. How do you keep your attention from being divided? That's the challenging part! You don't mention if their dad is in the house, but if he is, have him take the other 5 while you spend your one on one time. Since there are 6 kids, you could spend 1/2 hour with each on their own special night right before bed. (Mondays are Susies' day, Tuesdays are Bobbie's day, etc.) And the 7th day is for you to take that 1/2 hour and rest! What you do during that 1/2 hour depends on the kid. Read or cuddle with the little ones. Talk to the older ones. (or better yet, ask them what they'd like to do - play a game, perhaps?) If their dad is not in the house, you may have to ask your 14 year old for help wrangling the little ones while you have your special time. I assume your 14 year old goes to bed later than all the others, so his/her time should be fairly easy to keep uninterrupted.

The bottom line is that the kids will feel special if you treat them like they are special. The fact that you have asked this question tells me that you are a good, conscientious mom, so your kids probably already feel loved and special.

Good luck to you and your big, beautiful family!!

I am assuming that the 2 yr old and the 14 yr old get the most attention? I only have two children so it's easier for me. Your 14 yr old is at the most critical point in their life, high school. he/she needs so much attention. Since the two old is always with you and he gets attention when the other are in school, try this. I am assuming that the 6 yr old, the twins and the 10 yr old get out of school around the same time? Maybe when they get home, they can have a snack and they could each tell you about their day before they do their homework. Hopefully your 14 yr old get home around 3:30 or 4 pm. Then you can do the same give he/she a snack and talk about his/her day. dinner time can you all eat together. After dinner, Watch a show together. read to the 6 and 7 yr olds together and spend maybe spend 15 minutes with each of them before bed time. The ten yr old, tell him/her if they ever need anything to talk about to come to you anytime and take 15 min to talk about whatever. Then 14 yr old probably is in sports or does something extra ciricular so talk to them about before they go to bed and remind them that your always there. remember your two yr old always has your attention. on weekends this is probably when you will have to do quality time. I am assuming that the 14 yr old wants to be with friends? Maybe you can take time in the morning for a couple of hours and do something. remember your two yr old is always with you. you are not ignoring he/she because you do things with him everyday while all the kids are at school! In the afternoon, spend time with the 6 yr old and the twins and the 10 yr old. then take some time individually take a walk with the 10 yr old then come back for the others. On sunday make that family day. Things can't always be like this but at least sometime they can. remember if your children are doing any thing extra like sports, you are giving them you attention. I am sure you are doing a great job. Just remember to always know what your 14 yr old is doing. hope I gave some helpful advice.

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


I asked Martha Sears (7 children?)this question once(about the house quieting down a few notches.) I don't remember her exact wording but she said, it's okay to tell them "you are disturbing my peace!" I tried this, and I know the follow through is important, but honestly, there was something wonderful about saying it out loud, which helped me to remember that it's okay for me to take care of myself, too! I still say it to this day. Generally speaking however, I think we are a loud bunch.They get it from their father, haha!
On feeling special... my four are all older now, but I just told/tell them every single day how much they are loved, appreciated and wanted.

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.

Forget about quiet, its not going to happen unless they are all asleep or in graduate school! If you husband is willing to help, maybe you could schedule one night a week where one child gets to go somewhere with you, even if its just to the park or out for a drive. But make sure they know that this is THEIR special time and let them decide whether or not they want to discuss anything. Sometimes they won't have anything to talk about and will just enjoy the time with you. Everyone gets their turn (maybe even Dad).

HI M.--I had to write because I know what you are talking about. I have 5 kids--ages 18 months, 3,5,7,8 and it is very hard to find special time with each of them--especially with school and sports schedules. Here are a couple of things that I have done to try and help each feel special. Obviously for your little one it is not an issue because the rest are in school and he/she gets you all day. At bedtime I will take pick one child each night to special some extra time with--just giving them snuggles, talking about their day, reading--or whatever. I will also put all the kids to bed at their normal time (which in our house is 7-7:30) and let my 8 year old stay up and have 30 minutes alone with just me! During the summer I would have a special outing with each of my children once a week. By this I mean 1 chld per week so in 5 weeks I have gone through all of them and then start again with the 1st. My husband and I also started something this last summer that was awesome. We both took each of our kids on a special "mom & dad only" outing. We took something that they were really interested in and did it with just them for the day. They are already looking forward to this coming summer to see what their special day is going to be. I don't know if you are involved in a church--but they have a lot of great programs too. My 7 year old does a father-son only bible study on Wed. nights--it does keep him up past his bedtime--but the time that they are sharing is priceless. Anyway--I hope some of this helps. The noise issue--that is a fun one. During the week with school and homework -it is tough to do this--but on weekends we have a mid day break. When the baby is sleeping everyone has their own quiet time. In their rooms with books or hand held games--just some time to "veg out" on their own. Let me know how it goes--good luck!!!

I am a mother of 6 myself. 17,16,15,11,8,4 I would love to tell you it is easy to give them each their own time with you on their own timestable but it is actually impossible. The one thing I have found to actually work is I go for walks at night and only allow/invite the older ones. This gives them time to individually talk and not have to compete with the little ones. I am a crafter at heart and I have crafts that I have the younger ones do with me and usually this works. When running errands I will invite one child to go with me so that we may have one on one conversation I will also get up extra early in the morning and whomever needs to talk will generally be the one who does the same and that also works with staying up late and talking to who needs to talk before bed. About the having a calmer home well I am not sure. We have guitar hero,a computer, cooking time, outside time, reading time and movie time that on occassion works quite well but being a family of 8 is very difficult. But just enjoy it because there have been times when one is gone and it could be any one and there is a funny quietness about the house, go figure. Be happy enjoy the noise soon they will be gone and you won't really know how to handle it. That is what I have been told. C.

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