Monday, November 8, 2010

Larger Family Life Part 2 - Time for Young Ones

As I have been pondering on our life, Larger Family Life  and the juggling between older and younger children I have been trying to look at what I can to develop more special time with the little people in our family.

One of the harder things with a larger family is that much to the surprise of some people it is harder to spend time with the smaller children. I think this is because the older children have so much more complex issues with maturing and preparing their hearts and souls for the  tasks ahead of them. The older ones often need much more time to sort through  issues or just plain encouragement for them. Therefore they tend to need more help as they go through these preparation years.

I know that when the older children were little and we had really only the middle to little children, really under  12's. It was easier to spend more time together with the children. Mostly I think it is part of the fact as I said in my earlier post that they had so much in common. Also there wasn't the disunity and 'hurridness' that comes from the older children having lives outside the home.

Work and social life for older people means that adjustments have to be made for them. This usually involves the change in a schedule for the younger children. The younger children often have to make these sacrifices for the older children.

One of the things I have noticed with schedules is the bedtime routine.
This may only be a situation in our family..... but I wonder if it really is.
Our younger children go to bed later than our older children ever did except on special occasions.

When Kynan, our oldest was 13 (now 21) he would have lights out at the latest 8:30pm. Which meant a bedtime of 8:00pm. The younger ones would go in at 7:30 and lights out at 8:00pm, the babies would drop off even earlier than that.

Life for our younger children as far as bedtime goes is quite different.
Because we still like to spend meal times together as a family and our time after meals in family time, (this can vary through the year) the available time to use has moved to a later time altogether.

The point is we still like to have this time together. So often the younger children go to bed later than that ideal time we had with the older children.

From our point of view it is worth it to have the bonding time together. We could feed the little ones earlier and send them to bed, but not only would it cause division within the family, less time together, therefore less time to build relationships BUT it would also require a lot more time to create bedtime routines.

Another fact of life is that we really are much busier.
It takes a lot more time to do things in a larger family, this is not a complaint....it just is what it is.
Meal preparation takes longer, meal clean up tales longer, washing requires more time from beginning to end: washing, drying and folding up to ironing (avoid this if we can, we do) and putting away, simply because there is more of it.
Organising outings and Feast days, birthdays, anything that is out of the ordinary just takes more time because there are more people to organise for.

It makes sense that with all this ACTUAL LIVING that my time with the little ones can be delegated to the 'when I find time' category. As much as I try to avoid this and I know that they are not deprived, partly due to the fact they have other siblings, both younger and older (which can give much more variety in what they spend time doing) to spend time with, unlike the older children who just had me and each other.

It does not  mean that I don't want to spend that special time with our little ones and I often try to achieve this. However in all honesty, apart from lesson time I often don't spend that memorable creative time with them that I did with the older children.
In an effort to counteract this I have been trying to come up with a WORKABLE daily guide line I can use.
On my side bar I have a list of things to create a "Daily Goal of Living" with our family.

Each day our children will~
♥ Pray and live the Liturgical year
♥ Do meaningful work and serve others
♥ Read living books
♥ Experience beauty - through beautiful art, music poetry and literature
♥ Enjoy the outdoors - through outside play, exercise, nature studies and bush rambles
♥ Exercise their imaginations and creativity - through play, art and crafts
♥ Ponder, discuss and exchange ideas
♥ Receive focused love, affection and attention

Whilst this is a list on a few of my favourite blogs as well  I think it was originally put together by Melissa Wiley ( I think, I just can't remember so if someone can correct me, please do) and as much as I  love the ideals it contains I often don't think of it in everyday life, I am so slack .

Using the above ideas as a focus I have contrived this list to use as a guide for spending time with our younger ones each day.

♥ Read 4 picture books per day (outside of lesson work books) Each child gets to choose one each.
Reading is also something I used to do far more of with our older children.
♥ Spend time outside just idly wondering, meandering, playing games and playing in the sandpit. No set task, just enjoying God's creation and the time together.
♥ Spend time doing some creative play: play-doh, sewing, colouring
♥ Try to do some cooking with them. I used to cook  a lot with the older children but since they themselves tend to cook, I don't do as much with the little ones. Our older children loved cooking with me and Autumn still remembers fondly kneading bread with me at 3.
♥ Really just enjoying any time for cuddling, and being together. Especially being open to spontaneous ideas presented by the little ones.......no matter how '"busy" I am.

I really do hope that this helps me to focus on the needs of our little ones more and that we do create some more meaningful and dedicated time, enjoying our journey together.

Well once again I haven't covered everything I wanted to in my Large Family Living Series. So stay tuned for Part 3, sometime.

Blessings to you and your homes,

2 comments:

Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website said...

Thanks Gae. This is a wonderful post.
And I certainly relate to all of the sentiments you have shared therein.
We actually just made a small adjustment in our routine so that the Middles and Littles get the center of attention for a change.
The Bigs have been asked to sit out a season of sports and extra curriculars so that I can enjoy taking five of the younger kids to gymnastics for five weeks. I plan to make use of our special time together...a few impromptu picnics on the way home...a stop in to visit Jesus at the Adoration chapel...little things that we haven't had time to share because they (as you so aptly point out in your post) are always being carted around to support the Bigs...or at least stay occupied while I support the Bigs...now, we've decided it's time for the Bigs to support the Littles for a while...and this means Mommy will get more time with them!
I look forward to Part 3 of your post!

Jamie Jo said...

This was a great post and I can relate so much, even though my kiddos are 10 and under.

I see a lot of what you discussed happening in our own family and it's hard. I think when you have more than 3 children, it tugs at the mother's heart when she just can't give the time she did to the first few.

The love grows but the time seems to lessen.

Thank you so much!

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