I'm not one to sugar coat the realities of having a large family. It would be very easy for me to state that I have ample time to give each and every child and my husband the exact amount of my time that they need to feel complete. I certainly try to be there for all of them but the truth is I am spread thin. There are certainly positives on the flip side of this, my kids are very independent and are strong self motivators and logical thinkers. I just can't always devote time to work out every issue with them and they know this and thus move to figure it out themselves. This should not be taken that I ignore my children, truthfully I spend every waking minute with them on most days but generally as a whole group or a partial group.
I know many parents who eschew the idea of individual time at all. While I do think that parents coddle their children at times and do not expect a whole lot of them, I do think there is some merit in carving out a niche of time to spend with each person on their own. When I am alone with one of my children I get a glimpse into what is going on inside their little head. I see a part of them that they may not let out when they are in the group. I think they appreciate the little bits if time we get to spend alone together and in truth, they value it more.
On Wednesday nights the eldest girls have their youth group meeting about 45 minutes away from where we live. At first the thought of having to drive them all the way over there every week seemed like a burden. But after the first week I realized it was a blessing in disguise. Wednesday also happens to be Cub Scouts night. The boys are already gone with Daddy that night and Genevieve goes with them because there are a lot of sisters who meet and do crafts together at the scout house. That left me, Jillian and the twins home alone. Now we head out to youth group and I drop the girls off. This leaves me with an hour and a half of time to spend with Jillian. Just the two of us.
Generally we just pop into the Walmart that is right across the street. It's huge and still has fabric. Double bonus! Jillian and I wander the aisles, take pictures doing silly things, make birthday lists, buy groceries. After our wandering we get a snack and then I might teach her about crossing the street or safety in the Parking Lot. We both enjoy the time together so much and it is at these times that I get a glimpse of the life of a non homeschooling parent. This would be one of the downsides to having your kids at home all the time. You miss out on those couple of years with just the 'baby' at home. God has given that back to me at least for Wednesday.
Of course my children are not starved for attention or wasting away in neglect and lack of love. They are smothered in affection and drowning in attention. But I would be a fool not to recognize that there are certainly some trade-offs in living the homeschool life. Would I want it any other way? No. I think that while I must make more of an effort to spend time alone with each child, I cherish it a teensy bit more than I would if the opportunity came up a lot more often. Grabbing one of the children when I run errands and buying them an ice cream while we pick up things at the store...I treasure it. It's special to me.
And moments like these will always remain in my heart.
Big Scary Babies...Save yourself!! AHHHHHHH!