How to have an "only" child
When you have several children it is difficult, and often seems impossible, to find time to spend with each child individually. Yet we felt this one-on-one attention was extremely important and looked for various ways to accomplish it.
We came up with simple ways to recognize each child on special occasions and I'll post those another day.
But, for on-going "only" child time we settled on. . .
During the week (Monday through Thursday) each child had an assigned day where they stayed up one-half hour later than usual, spending time with either both parents or mom or dad (usually their choice). When they were all young, this was time after the others had gone to bed. As they grew up the older ones would read, bathe, or do their own thing while a younger brother had his night up. When we had more than four kids, the ages were such that we could have the time with the younger one --- and then the older one would reappear for their turn. Occasionally, because of an activity or because of a meeting or other adult commitment, only one parent spent time with the night-upper but usually it was both of us.
During this time we played or did whatever that particular child wanted to do on that particular night. We have played many games, innumerable times, sometimes over and over and over. (I do not like Chutes and Ladders---you are finally almost finished and BAM!, back to the bottom to start over! Naturally, and probably for the very same reason but with different motives, they loved it!)
We crawled around the floor playing with Fisher Price farms and garages and castles and hid tiny green toy soldiers behind books and chair legs. We colored, we painted, we played with clay and silly putty. We read and we played Atari. Heidi learned the basics of putting on make up and fixing hair when she selected that activity. She usually wanted to be the beautifier and I was always the willing model. All I had to do was sit!
I can't say that we, Dave and I, always loved what we did during this time. Often we didn't even like it. But that was of no importance. Being and doing with one child, all by them self, was what was important. Parenting requires a great amount of time, quite often when you honestly would prefer doing something else.
We learned just how important years ago when we came home to find the following on our answering machine. We are guessing that our then 22 year-old son called when he knew we wouldn't be home. We are not a real demonstrative family and this was an easier way for him to say what he wanted to say:
"Thanks you for night's up, soccer games, (teaching us) tithing and missionary savings, helping us clean the club, alligator bread with chocolate chip eyes. I love you guys."
We couldn't have received a more meaningful gift!
I am Simply Gail and over the past 50 years I have learned that little things really do mean a lot.