Having three kids under five, staying at home with them, no one being in school, means I have very little alone time with each child individually. When I had two kids, I would stagger their afternoon naps so I could sneak in that extra time with the youngest, just truly playing with her and reading to her and smiling at her.

Like, looking her in the eyes and smiling.

Because for me the long days alone with the kids, especially when they were younger, were hard. Hard to feel like I accomplished anything beyond the basics, and hard to even feel like I was getting quality time with them. Ironically, although I have three kids now, and SuperBoy is much more into exploring the world and not just eat-diaper-nap-read-repeat, my quality time with them has gone way up because I'm more aware of wanting and needing it.

A few years back I gave you a sample day with two kids, and last year I described my day with three, and maybe I talked about my day recently too.

For me, to avoid the days blurring together into one big tantrum scream fest where I'm diving into my iPhone for a little break, I've been mindful of one-on-one time with them.

SuperBoy

superboy

His love languages are verbal affirmation & physical touch. I'm also all verbal affirmation over here. We snuggle in the morning when he comes into our room, thank you, king-size-bed, and when he gets up from his afternoon rest/naptime. He processes his feelings verbally and I'm extra aware of when he needs encouragement and when his little heart has been crushed by what I thought was a perfectly legit comment {pitching a hard baseball inside is not a great idea}.

Our one-on-one time has been working through this book on learning to read periodically (like 5-10 minutes a day--somedays!). I'll deposit the babe & the big girl in our newly opened for the season playroom and go into the library to delve into it. He loves reading and I love listening to him read.

SweetPea

sweetpea

Her love languages are quality time and gifts. I'm not a quality time person, but YES am a gift person! She longs for someone to be with her in her room while she sorts//arranges//re-arranges all her bags of pilfered goods from around the house. Or to watch her sort//arrange//re-arrange her dollhouse.

During the day, I love putting her down for her nap because it involves picking out 100 items for her to nap with. For her, that's connecting with me.

I also make a special effort to once a month go up to Grand Avenue just a few blocks away to Bread & Chocolate and get a little croissant to share with just her. We usually hop next door a few doors down to Red Balloon Bookstore and pick up something from their bargain room in the basement. So many steals! Oh, the joy $3 can give my little magpie who deeply desires a special little sticker book or pen cap or anything for her bags of happiness back home.

BabyLoves

babyloves

Well, he's 11 months old so I'd say his love languages are still nursing and baby wearing. Luckily we do a lot of both. Increasingly as he hurls his body around on his stilted legs, he is engaging and playing more with the older kids. He even will run//joggle away from me if I pretend to chase him and then scoop him up & smoother him with kisses. He laughs a deep open mouth chuckle the whole time, too.

Beyond nursing him, diapering him, cleaning up after he's smeared food all over the counter, I really do want to make one-on-one quality time with him: truly aware & present time to read & play. So I'm trying to do more of that while the big kids cavort in the other room.

Do your kids had different personalities than you? I read a great book on this and it's really helped me be me authentically with them while still addressing who they are.

Tagging on here that this nesting homemaker bundle of over 70 e-books including great ones on parenting ends Monday--so if you're into that kinda love language {reading!! mine! haha} hop over:

holding the space

I hear from a sweet girlfriend she is in labor. I'm at home. I sling the baby on my hips and go upstairs. The older kids clamor what kind of baby will she have? is she going to want a chocolate cake? while following me up the stairs that creak, down the hallway that's dark, and into the Sitting Room, my work studio. I scan the room in a hurry and blink, in that second recalling the memory of where I safely stowed the matches out of their reach.

In a few steps, I recover the matches and light one. The baby tries hard to burn his hands but after setting him down to toddle, I cup the match and my favorite candle made by another sweet friend. Lit, it lets off the sweetest smell and the three kids huddle to watch it flick flack.

I'm holding the space for this girlfriend in labor.

A lit candle, powerful but vulnerable, makes the perfect analogy for the laboring mama. Her body can do this. It was made to do this. Her breath in & out brings that baby closer to her arms through his or her biggest journey of their life.

Don't you wish we could remember how it felt to kick off the top of the uterus? To head down from our warm cocoon into the bright cold world? Or to feel the surgeon's rubbery hands lifting us to our mama's welcoming eyes?

Probably best those memories are in our bones and muscles instead of our cognizant memory. Though Blythe's brother says he remembers it, so some of us may be able to access that trip.

I hold the space for her, whispering prayers and feeling slightly anxious until I hear the news, mama and baby okay. Every time a friend or family member is in labor, or their baby's birth mother is, I've lit a candle, wishing so hard on it that everything goes okay, wanting so much to will into being my wish. We are so interconnected, we mothers by body and mothers by heart.

It doesn't matter that each labor is different. It doesn't matter that I've never attended another woman's birth or baby-meeting. My mama heart strings for them, the tense anticipation, the conscious effort for peace, the desperation and euphoria.

candle

Wood wall hangings by my dear friend Kelly at Of Thistle and Thyme. Stack of my fabric just waiting for projects.

My friend Laura is a theologian and mother. Her series on prayer are amazing. She loves the prayer on the Breastplate of Saint Patrick for labor, and I do too:

Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.