Raising a Large Family :: Spending Quality Time with Each Child


Today, I want to talk about a very important part of raising children, no matter how busy you are or how small or large your family is. Most mega-sized families, including mine, tend to spend a lot of time together as a whole. My kids will tell you that their most favorite people in the world are their siblings (well, most of the time) and they love to hang together. Our big kids do help with the younger ones, but they also spend a lot of time just simply enjoying their younger siblings. We recently took a trip and I noted that one of my favorite parts was watching my big kids fill with joy when they watched their younger brothers and sisters squeal with excitement over a park ride or character sighting. Every day with a large family is not filled with dreamy moments like those, but I sure do soak them in when they happen. However, as much as we enjoy all of us being together, the fact is, each of our kids needs our undivided attention. They all need to know they are important, special, and noticed, and that their dad and I are never too busy for them. 

Quality Time with Each Child in a Large Family

Syncing Routines

One question we get asked a lot is how we focus time on each of our kids, individually. Clearly, that’s a challenge, but it is very important and we have adapted to that growing need over the years. Investing in 13 kids, one-on-one, requires being very intentional and creative. My husband and I know the kids’ routines and the times they will be available for individual conversation or an opportunity to be together alone. We make the most of those times. 

For instance, the big kids make their way to the den later at night after little kids are put to bed. We cherish this time with our bigs and it’s worth being tired the following morning. A lot of deep, helpful, and fun conversation happens at that time with these mini-adults, and it gives us time to listen to, dream with, and simply enjoy one another without interruptions. We also schedule date nights with our big kids regularly and spend a night doing whatever they choose while a babysitter stays at home with the little ones. 

Giving Individual Attention

We make time for “one child only” when doing things such as making a run to the store, when a child needs to shop for something, or when a child needs to be picked up from a practice or school event. One of my favorite times to catch up and “lean in” to an individual kid is when I just plop down on his or her bed and talk. When a child asks me to do something with them that would allow me some time alone with that child, I do my best to make that fit my schedule. This sometimes means riding an ATV into the woods with one of my boys to check a game camera or put corn out for animals to eat. Maybe this time is something more glamorous like a shopping trip for a prom dress. Whatever the occasion, I’m all in, even if it requires muddy boots. 

Really all that it takes is simply being aware of whose tank seems to be full and who needs extra individual attention. This is what we consider keeping a radar on the heart and being aware of attitude or behavior changes that give us a heads up to check in with that child. Asking a few questions typically lets us know when a child needs some extra time with Mom and Dad.Raising a large family - spending quality time with each child

No matter the size of your family, I would encourage you to be intentional about your time with your children. This usually means putting down the phone, computer, or remote. Turn off the music and simply ask questions. My kids make their share of mistakes and don’t always seem to want to discuss every little detail of their lives, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want me to ask. I promise, they want us more involved in the details of their day-to-day than we tend to think. They won’t be in our nests forever (we hope), so let’s make the most of every minute we have with them. 


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Polly was born and raised in Birmingham and has been married to the man of her dreams for almost 25 years. She and her husband currently have 12 children. Eight of their kids are home grown. They have adopted two children and also have two children from foster care. Polly's children range in age from 23 down to five months old. She enjoys having a house full of her best friends and babies. Polly has been a stay-at-home mom since her first baby was born and has homeschooled most of her children. Recently, some of her children have transitioned to private school and she can now be found on game nights roaring from the stands for her football player and her daughter's dance team. Along with her husband, Polly is a co-founder of Altar84, an organization that promotes orphan care awareness and partners with a ministry in Haiti to provide medical and nutritional support to over 500 children. Some of Polly's favorite things to do include traveling (even with a dozen kids), reading, spending time doing adult things with her big kids, and her favorite hobby these days is going on dates with her super cute husband, Shawn.


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