Monday, July 22, 2019


My 20 year high school reunion was a couple of weekends ago, which is a whole nother story.  But as it relates to this blog post, I happened to WIN outright for the alumni that had that most children.  At 4 kids.  This was sort of shocking to me, as most of my friends here also have 4 kids.  It made me wonder if we are weird or just used to living in Arkansas or, or, or...  Really, those are lots of questions for other days that we will probably never get to, because in reality we have four children and that does not leave a lot of time for extra questioning of things that are already done deals.

All of that to say, we have four children and sometimes that feels like a lot.  I know a lot of people who have more than that, but for us, four feels like a full and overflowing quiver.  Especially with some of the extra needs that are brought to the table through adoption.  Also, our kids are very close in age - 4 in 4 years.  This has a lot of pros, but I regularly tell people that I have PTSD from when they were all very little.  The level of exhaustion and intensity is unmatched in anything else we've ever done.

As they have gotten older, certain things have leveled out.  We are *slightly* less exhausted.  At least, the exhaustion has shifted.  The physical things are easier - they mostly sleep at night, they mostly dress themselves, etc.  The emotional things have gotten harder, because we are raising four people.  They all come to the table with a different set of giftings, preferences, temperaments and needs.  We are actively trying to balance their needs with our needs and with all that is always going on.  The mental gymnastics are often overwhelming.

One of the things that we've discovered is that our children thrive when they spend one on one time with us.  As an added bonus, we've realized that we often enjoy parenting more when its one on one, instead of us with the whole herd.  We saw this so clearly when we peeled Lily off for her 10th birthday trip, and it inspired us to make it more of a priority.

So, we try for John to be able to take each kid out on their own about once a month, which roughly works out to about one kid "date" a week for him.  We haven't quite managed to figure out the best way for me to get as much one on one time out of the house, but I am working to take those moments we get at home and use them more intentionally.  The honest truth is that especially during the summer, I am more likely to need time away from all kids, simply because we have had a LOT of togetherness, and I need to be able to think whole thoughts on my own.


This is a work in progress and changes with our schedule and the season.  Just the second we feel like something has legs and can walk around, everything seems to change.  But, we are working on it, and it does make a difference for us all.


Often this means that John will plan things that he knows each kid will love, and it has been fun to see them respond to this thoughtfulness.  He's run races with the big girls and has also hiked Pinnacle.  There are regular trips to Yogurt Mountain and Barnes and Noble.  We did realize that the kids were starting to equate "dates" to "getting a toy" or something else, and so we've cut back on buying stuff on the outings to make it more about the time spent together.


I'm hoping that building these relationships intentionally will increase the connection we have with each of our children and also build their confidence.  It allows us to speak truth into them and provide more context for big picture things in life, especially with the older girls.  Another thing that John did was had them take the Strengths Finder for Kids test, and it was amazing to see how well those strengths already define who they are.  We want them to know themselves, just as we are trying to know ourselves.  


I would love to hear other ideas about how people schedule intentional time with their kids - we still have a lot to learn.  It's tricky to figure out how to balance everyone's needs, and we get it wrong probably as often as we get it right.  But, we are trying and praying that God blesses and multiplies our efforts.