Someone recently asked me how we find time to spend 1:1 time with each of the kids since there are a lot of them and only 2 of us.
In general, we always make a point of sitting with each child throughout the day and evening, playing a game with them or just snuggling up on the couch. Having them tell us about their day, or telling them about something exciting coming up. We intentionally take "a kid or two" with us whenever we run errands if we don't have to take everyone, and that way we have some time with those children and the other parent with the others. All in all, it works out really well for us!!
That said, at the beginning of the summer we asked ourselves how we could be more intentional about spending more individual time with the kids since they've got more time available while out of school. Our answer was a "kids' date night"! Though I know many people that have set up 'date' nights with their kids, we were again needing to be a little more creative due to the number of children we have. Taking one kid out each week still would mean that over the course of 8 weeks each kid only got one 'date' night out. So we called in reinforcements!
We are very blessed to have four grandparents living just minutes away as well as some aunts and uncles and numerous 'pseudo family' that we knew would agree and enjoy pitching in! Tonight is now the first night of "kids' date night"!
Tonight the oldest two girls will go with Michael's parents, the oldest two boys with my parents, the next two younger will go with me, and the youngest two will go with Michael! Each of the kids will spend from about 4-7 with their 'date', which for the two sets going with grandparents, means literal 1:1 time, whereas the ones with Michael or myself will be 2:1, but still, very much able to spend focused time with THEM. :)
It looks like it'll be every 2 weeks throughout the summer that we'll do these date nights for the kids, and by the end of the summer all the kids will have had 4 date nights, one with each set of grandparents and one with each Michael or I. Of course that's in addition to the regular time we spend with them all the time :). I hope it builds some lasting memories for all of us and the kids as well.
If this really works out well, we will consider going in to the school year with it and calling in other family or pseudo family for weeks when one of the 'regulars' isn't available.
In addition to kids' date nights and regular errands and daily time spent together, Michael and I are always looking for opportunities that are good for any one or two or three or... eight! of the kids that they would enjoy taking part in. When I decided to go visit with my sister, there was a lot that went in to deciding to "just take off" but the timing was right and I really needed to do it then. I was originally planning on going alone, but realized that although I'd love the time with just Elizabeth, Lynae would be able to come for free. Hmm... and if Lynae was coming, then having Brianna come along since they play so well together sounded like a decent idea. Ticket prices were GOOD, so... we made sacrifices in other areas to make it work. Why those two? Because, quite simply, they are the two that adapt most easily to different places and would allow me to still enjoy the time with Elizabeth. I also knew I could deal with both of them on a plane (four, actually), and they would enjoy what Elizabeth and I would do while we visited.
In the next couple of weeks, Michael and Kristopher are going to try to have a guy's get-away. Kristopher has done GREAT with all the transitions, but he's our 'current kid' that's probably been through the most adjustments with the adoption. There's now another very able-bodied child that is technically older than him who is impeding on his space, his toys, and his place in the family. He's doing great, and knows that she's not replacing him or anything else... BUT, it will be a good thing for him to have some individual time with his daddy, too!
In order to do little get-aways with the kids we definitely save up for a long time ahead of time, and we sacrifice in other areas to be able to do it. It's a blessing to have the opportunity to do these things with our kids, though, and they create a much needed atmosphere within our home, within each of our children, and memories that will last a lifetime for all of us :)