As homeschooling moms we sometimes wonder how we are to have individual time with a particular child. Our days are filled with “togetherness,” which is exactly what we have chosen with our homeschooling. Family interactions and fellowship are of vital importance and top priority in our homes. However, I also desire to build relationships with each child individually, and I see that these relationships are nurtured not only through family time, but also through one-on-one time. I want to share some ways I have found time to spend with a child in the midst of a busy, homeschooling family of ten.
For the bulk of my homeschool day, I accomplish school with one child at a time. I go over his math and English lessons, dictate spelling words, go through his current writing project, and whatever else he might need mom-teacher help concerning. Not only do we have concentrated school time, but this is also an opportunity to have individual time with a particular child. We sit side by side on the sofa, allowing me to put my arm around the child, pat his back, or rub his neck.
I like to have one child scheduled with me to be my meal helper. Just like school meetings with a child, meal-helper time has multiple purposes. Through it I am teaching my child to work, gaining the benefit of help, and experiencing the joy of fellowship with him. The minutes spent together in the kitchen are ones where we can talk with each other for an extended period of time on a regular basis.
Another vehicle for me to have individual time with a child has been to have one child scheduled to spend a half hour with me each afternoon. With our five younger children, that meant that each child had a half hour a week of personal time with me that wasn’t kitchen or school time. I would start on Monday with the oldest child, working to Friday afternoon for the youngest.
When running errands or grocery shopping, I make a point to invite a child to join me. If I rotate children, then on a regular basis each child has an outing with Mom that includes the opportunity for personal, private conversation between us.
For several years, I have taken my oldest daughter for a monthly date. We go out to eat and then to WalMart. To make sure this is an appointment that I am committed to remembering and keeping, I have set it for the first Monday of the month. During the two to three hours we are away from home alone together, we are able to talk and cultivate our relationship, which is important to both of us.
As my younger girls are approaching the age where I began the monthly dates with my older daughter, I am asking the Lord for creativity on how to do this with them as well. Perhaps I will have a monthly date with each of them on another week of the month. Maybe I will have them take turns on a date night.
Being involved in mentoring relationships with other Christian women, I realized the importance of my first-priority mentoring being with my own daughters. These were one-on-one friendships and studies with a focus on discipleship. To begin this with my daughter, when Sarah was about fourteen, I would meet with her for a personal spiritual study time twice a week in the evening after the younger children had gone to bed.
This evening meeting with my daughter was another opportunity for individual time with a child. It also allowed me to pursue my personal goals for our relationship. We used DoorPost’s Polished Cornerstones as a basis for our studies. Meeting in the evening after the younger children were in bed didn’t take me away from time with them. Even though it was set for later in the evening, it didn’t require much physical energy.
Right now, I have two girls whom I pray with and put to bed at night. They share a bedroom with their older sister. While this evening routine isn’t individual time with one child, it is different from our time together as a family. These two girls and I usually have several minutes to share with each other every night in addition to the knitting of hearts that takes place as we pray together.
Perhaps the best one-on-one attention I can give happens spontaneously when a child comes with a desire to talk. I know from experience that this is almost always when I am involved in a thought-demanding project. I also know from experience—and I think the children know as well—that I can appear to be listening but really not be at all. It is imperative that I value my relationship with that child more than accomplishing whatever it is that I am involved in doing.
I want to capture those relationship moments by stopping what I am doing, facing my child, looking intently at him, and paying close attention to what he is saying. Jesus tells us, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). When my treasure of time is invested in a child, then my heart is with him as well. That is also a key starting point for the keeping of our children’s hearts.
We can invest individually in our children’s lives through written communication as well. Almost two years ago, I began writing my children personal notes of encouragement—one child per week. While I am not talking face-to-face with that child, those written words of affirmation give him my undivided one-on-one attention via a medium he will have available to read over and over if he chooses to do so. I have an article on that subject.
As we look for ways to build a relationship with each of our children, we can ask the Lord Jesus to provide us with time and creativity. Then we implement what He shows us to do. We can purpose to have a mindset to take advantage of the spur-of-the-moment individual time that will occur in the midst of our days at home with our children. May we be mommies who nurture relationships with our children in family settings and also with each child individually.