Your letter was a joy to read. Your thoughts on mothering were beautiful and certainly inspiring. If you are concerned about making time for individual time with your children then you are on the right path. Remember that the Author of time and the Giver of that time is the Lord. Surely the good Jesus will hear the prayers of your heart and give you the time that you need. I admire you. I want you to know that your letter has come in a very timely fashion. With all the Christmas preparations in the works here at my house, I have fallen short of my desire to be there for my children.
For example, on Friday they wanted to go to a roller skating party with pizza, etc. with their homeschool co-op. It was to be the last gathering of this semester before we meet again in January. They had planned special fun for little people, teens and a quiet place for nursing babes and moms who wanted to chat.
I had made plans to have the Faith Formation teachers over for dinner. My plans were loose (I could have rescheduled), the children's plans were not. Because I was busy with supper preparations for the teachers, we were forced to miss the party.
This made me feel badly later that evening, when only three of the teachers came to the dinner and I was forced to get my children's help with my adult party. They had to help me prepare the food, entertain the teachers' children who came to the party, and help me clean up. A skating party would have been a much better choice for them.
I tell you this story because it brings home a point that I must remind myself of often. The desire to be with your children is holy and right and setting this as a priority is important. The only other person you should desire to spend time with on the level of your children is of course your husband.
Homeschooling gives us a wonderful joy and opportunity to spend time with our children. We can have flexibility to find those pockets of time to be there for our children. You mention reading with your children. That is fantastic. I believe with all my heart that reading to your children is one of the very best ways to share time with your children. When you have a large family, reading aloud to them is like spending one-on-one time. They have your undivided attention and you theirs. I used to love to nurse a baby and read aloud. It seemed everyone was so cozy and quiet. Many times we would all pile up in my bed at night, right before their bedtime. My husband could rock who needed it, I could nurse who needed it and everyone else could listen.
Here are some of my best pockets of time that the Lord has given me:
When you go to the grocery store, ask your husband to baby-sit everyone but the child you are wanting to spend one-on-one time with. While you shop, talk about any and everything. Stop at Sonic on the way home for a quick ice cream or something.
"Invite" just one child to help you prepare dinner, or garden, or whatever. It may sound strange to say invite, but my children view it as a privilege to be asked to help me do the things that I normally would prefer to do by myself. Then use the time talking.
Remember that drive time can be talking time.
It may sound old fashioned, but tucking people in bed at night opens up a perfect opportunity for special talking time.
In the evening before I go to sleep, I usually crawl in bed to read my devotions or knit. This has always been my quiet private time. Many times a child will come to the bedroom door, knock quietly and ask to come in. I am so grateful that this happens. Mu husband is usually puttering with the computer or paperwork, during this time. If they want to see him, likewise they know where they can find him. :)
I think what I want to say is this: "talking with" is the most important time you spend with children. Be available and be ready to talk whenever the opportunity arises. The Lord will give you unexpected moments and you will use them wisely. Engage in conversation with children at every opportunity. Do not wait until you are alone with one child, but instead be ready to talk whenever your children want to. Sometimes when we are studying together, a question will arise that sparks conversation. There at the kitchen table doing school, whomever is sitting at the table, will enter into the conversation. Golden moments and the reason behind my personal joy with the homeschooling lifestyle. Be flexible and ready to stop the business at hand and talk.
During lunch or tea time, I usually ask how everyone's school day is going. Another good time to talk.
Your children are young and you probably can not imagine the days of college aged or older children. But there will come a time when you will be so grateful for the times that you invested in talking. Nothing is more rewarding than carrying on a serious discussion about issues with a well read, polite, intelligent college student and realizing it is your own lovely child. Praise God!
Dear Jesus, I praise You and thank You for the lovely witness of this dear mother. She has expressed from her heart the real meaning behind mothering. Lord, give us the wisdom that is of the Holy Spirit. Help us to understand that when we make time to talk with our children or stop what we are doing to be there for them we are indeed, in a small way, imitating Your desire to be with each of us. Lord, You are ready and waiting anytime day or night to hear our prayers and be there for us. We love You, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Sending out a prayer,