One of my main fears as we continued to grow our family was whether we were compromising our ability to spend quality time with each of our kids. It is actually my main concern with each positive pregnancy test – even desperately wanted pregnancies. I have wasted so much of my time being anxious that I wouldn’t be able to spend one on one time with each of my kids that it has robbed me of so much of the joy that I should have been feeling.
Change How You Define Quality Time
I’ll start with telling you this one life-changing fact that really changed how I look at our parenting and our family as a whole.
Quality time IS NOT just one on one time.
When we’re playing a board game with our kids, is it truly not “quality time” just because we aren’t dedicating this time to one on one per kid?
While I truly believe that quality time can be spent with all of us together, one on one time is also super important.
One of our favorite ways to sneak in one on one time in the margins of our days is to play quick games with our kids.
Quick to me is 15 minutes or less.
Now we often play multiple rounds of the same game and end up spending almost an hour playing the same game or rotating through a few of our favorites.
Other times, we’ll have gotten lost in our day and now it’s almost time to get ready for soccer and I have barely seen my kids even though we’ve been home all day together.
In moments like that, I’ll grab Rat a Tat Cat and we’ll play a quick round together.
Other favorites that take 20 minutes or less are:
Quixx – super fast dice game that we love!
Disney eye found it – my kids as young as 3 have loved this and it takes 5 minutes to play!
One on One Time with Each Kid in a Large Family
With 5 kids and hectic schedules, it just isn’t feasible for us to take our kids out on individual dates as often as we’d like to.
Instead, we squeeze in quality time by taking one kid with us to do certain errands.
Usually it’s grocery shopping, but other times it’s quick runs to the gas station, to pick up take out, or a trip to the hardware store.
While it isn’t the most glamorous time we spend with our kids, they all fight over who gets to go and it’s uninterrupted time we wouldn’t otherwise have.
In the car we listen to whatever music that particular kid wants that day or we just talk.
I’ve learned so much about each of my kids from these trips alone.
One thing I’ve noticed, especially in our now four year old, is that our kids are really influenced by each other.
What my daughter tells me she wants to be when she grows up changes based on who is in the room.
If my other daughter is there, my four year old wants to be whatever her sister is.
It isn’t until I get her alone that she will tell me she wants to help deliver babies or sell jewelry.
Screen Time Quality Time
If you would have asked me this two years ago, I would have told you that screen time negates any quality time you’re spending.
Unless maybe I was romanticizing a Home Alone marathon at Christmastime.
Now I realize that the time we spend sitting on our couch battling our kids on Stumble Guys from our various devices is 100% quality time.
Switch from Homeschooling to Gameschooling
Or even unschooling if you’re super daring and intentional.
Homeschooling your kids gives you around 1000 hours with them per year that you wouldn’t have if they were in public school.
I have battled various parts of my personality for years to figure out our homeschooling groove.
My husband will tell you that I’m a curriculum collector.
I’m a planner abandoner.
I will make a million well-intentioned homeschool schedules, checklists, and plans only to bore my kids to literal tears before we’re forced to regroup.
Enter gameschooling and unschooling.
I read the Brave Learner and opened my eyes to the fact that learning really is happening everywhere, all day long.
It wasn’t until my kids started to ask me multiplication questions in the car (before it ever came up in our curriculum) that I realized they really would learn whether I was forcing it down their throats or not.
Gameschooling is just my answer to my controlling side that says I have to be intentional to make sure they don’t miss something important.
Without going into excruciating detail about how we homeschool since it isn’t the point of this post, I will just leave it at this:
We can teach our kids whatever they want to learn in a super fun way, usually using games or experiments, without ever touching a workbook.
So geography class today might be Ticket to Ride First Journey with my 5 year old or Scrambled States of America with my 8 year old.
Maybe we’ll play together as a family on a team and play Ticket to Ride the adult version or the United Kingdom version.
Then we’ll watch a fun documentary on Youtube about whatever routes my kid got after we’re done.
Even if it’s just playing in the background while we build legos together in our living room.
Finally, I’ll nag you to not waste as much time on your phone and lose yourself in your kids instead.
I have a love hate relationship with my phone.
It is on of my sole sources of self-care in the form of my Kindle app.
It is also equipped with a nagging little weekly reminder that I spent 5 hours on average on my phone each day last week.
Imagine what I could do with that much time.
Maybe I have a baby on my hip and can’t cuddle one of my kids and read a book for one on one time.
But while I bounce my baby on my lap I can also play a game with my 8 year old, cuddle both kids and watch an episode on Netflix, or just ask intentional questions of whatever kid I catch alone for a few minutes.
Do you know what a symbiotic relationship is?
My 5 year old excitedly told me all about it during one of these random conversations that I purposely sought out.
Thank you Octonauts.
How to Spend Quality Time with Kids at Home
Another big way I spend one on one time with my kids is to do chores with them.
My oldest is just about to turn 9, so all of my kids still love helping with things around the house.
If I ask any one of my kids to help me make dinner, they are super excited about it.
If I’m doing a chore there’s even a remote chance one of my kids can help me with, I ask.
This lets me double up on responsibilities I have to do while turning it into an opportunity to bond with one of my kids.
There is simply no way to add more hours into our days.
I try to capitalize on any chance I get to spend with my family because there are other responsibilities I have that I can’t include them in.
I’ll leave you with the advice that the time is going to pass anyway. Be intentional about spending more time with your kids in whatever form you can get it. Be even more intentional about giving Instagram and tiktok far less minutes of your life. Revise your idea of what quality time is and soak up every single second you’re given. It’s a gift and these young years are flying by too fast.