Tips & Advice
Being a father to multiple children
Being A Father To Multiple Children
Affection, love, physical time, getting kids into bed – all of these things become more difficult when we have multiple children. If you’re a dad with two or more kids you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. And our kids know this as well, that they can’t have as much time with us as they might want. Sometimes the competition for our attention becomes physical and our kids fight, or moan, or sulk because one of the kids is having time with us. So how do we practically resolve this? How do we split our attention between our kids? How do we successfully split our time?
Some authors have commented on the amount of ‘quality time’ our kids need from us, and the conclusion has often been a minimum of 15 minutes everyday. When you have a busy lifestyle this suddenly becomes relatively achievable, but how this looks can be challenging.
As a response I’ll list some ideas you can try. It’s not a one size fits all scenario, so the best idea is to try a few of these until you get some success
Be the Mediator
- One way to do this (if your kids are still younger than 10) is to become the mediator. Your kids will want to do something active like playing, or being outside or drawing. So be the one who helps them do it together. Help them to decide the game that suits them all, or help them make a competition out of drawing that fits both skill levels. Then navigate the game with them, gently remind them of the agreed rules, and help them play. The trick here is to let all of your kids know that you are going to spend time with them together, then make suggestions and help them decided how to do it. Start with being silly, wrestling, water fights, silly dancing all that stuff – because then the fun will encourage them to do more.
Just A Hug
- Recognize when a hug is enough. Our kids behaviour often speaks volumes, but usually if our kids are misbehaving what they really need is positive attention. Sometimes a hug, a kind word, 10 minutes passing a rugby ball, a small gift or helping them with their homework is enough to settle them.
- Our kids are not always capable of having conversations to connect with us. So don’t rely on that as the sole way of having quality time with your children.
To Schedule or Not To Schedule?
- Some kids need more certainty – so sit down with them and outline a schedule. Often this is about ‘fairness’ because our children usually have a sense of injustice. So on Tuesday after school your eldest can have some 1:1 time with you, and on Fridays you and you youngest get to go to the park before dinner. Some schedules need to be a little more instant – so playing with toys with one kid can happen ‘but only for 15 min, ‘cos then I’ve got to help so-and-so with homework’ and then set the oven timer to help your kids understand that play time has finished.
- Be clear with you children why you are playing with one of them at a time so they understand you aren’t ignoring them.
- Use the routines that are already established in your household to spend that quality time with your kids. For 10 minutes while one of your kids is having a bath – make an effort to give them heaps of attention. Ask them questions, play games, do silly voices. The routine of that means you can really engage with one kid at a time. If you have 6 kids, or some kids who are in your house but aren’t yours do this in a variety of ways. Bath time conversations, or reading a few pages of a book to them when they are tucked into bed, or walking to the dairy with one to get milk, or getting the oldest to help with dinner or plating your daughters hair after a shower and talking about her day. All of these things can be rotated with different kids on different nights, so they will all feel included.