This is also a good question.Â We've tried to find ways to do this, and I have to admit that the last few months have made this nigh unto impossible, but I will tell you how we've tried to do this under normal circumstances.
One way is to make their birthday a special day.Â They get to pick what's for dinner, they used to get the day off from chores, but while I've been unable to do their chores for them, they get a "Saturday candy" for doing their chores instead (Saturday candy is a regular sized candy as a reward for doing all their chores all week and having them all done by 10 am on Saturday, including mopping/vacuuming the room they have).
We have tried to have great birthday parties, and in many cases the party is shared with one or two other =][/siblings who have birthday's nearby.Â We let them invite over ar8 children and we always have a treasure hunt with rhyming clues to lead them all over our property in search of the stash of party candy (if you've ever done the cloth diaper hunt on my sites, you'll have experienced a taste of this, but without the screaming and running around).Â We usually divide the kids into two teams, equally dividing the kids according to age and there are two clues at each location, one for each team.Â After the treasure hunt we have a bunch of games like pin the tail, hanging donuts on a string and having them eat the donuts without touching them with their hands, some kind of tag, water balloon baseball was a hit this year, water balloon tosses, water pistol war, capture the flag, clothes pin drop and many more.Â The winner get's three candies, second place gets two, and everyone gets one candy for being a good sport!
We also try to bring one child with us when we run errands.Â This may mean taking one big kid and one little kid, especially when I was pregnant as I neede the extra help with the shopping.Â This one we haven't been doing very well with this year, but I hope to re-instate it once things settle down with Esther.Â I did take a different child with me each time I went to Seattle and we had a great time both times - I even got beat playing the alphabet game by each child!Â I rarely lose, so they were both very excited that they beat mom! Â Both times we also went to Dick's Drive In in Seattle - this drive in has been there for over 50 years and is iconic for Seattle - cheap, wholes hamburgers, fresh cut french fries, hand dipped hard icecream shakes and cones - very limited menu, low prices, and cash only!Â It's just 3 blocks west of I5 on 45th st if you are ever in the area!
We also try to go camping at least once aÂ year.Â Camping means less work, fewer distractions, lots of game playing, time around the fire - great memories that I wouldn't trade for the world!
We also encourage the children in their God given talents - we don't have them all take piano lessons, just the ones who show an interest in it.Â So we have kids taking Karate, piano lessons, art lessons and in the past we've done violin lessons as well.Â Each child can have one type of lesson if they want, but if they want to do more, they would have to finance it themselves as we are on a tight budget usually.Â Daryl is also great at doing projects with the kids.Â Today he's buildling an insulated dog house with Jessica out of building materials left over from our new home.Â Last week he was working on cars with Jason and Jonathan.Â He's made boomerangs, go carts from lawnmowers, recumbents bikes out of spare bike parts, and other fun projects!Â He's an inventor of sorts and is very creative.Â It's great for the kids and him!
I try to remind the children of things they've done in the past as well.Â When the newest member of our family makes a milestone, like smiling or walking, I love to tell the kids when they did those thing..."Elizabeth, you walked when you were just 8 1/2 months" "Reuben, she learned to smile at the exact same age as you did - and she has the same dimple you had as a baby!"Â I think this means a lot to the kids - knowing that I can remember things that they did at certain ages and such.
We also like to make Christmas as fun for each child as possible on a limited budget.Â But that one is probably more family memories, than making each child feel special - but their identity is in a big way wrapped up in being a part of our family and doing things as a family that just wouldn't be the same if we didn't have everyone doing it together.Â Being part of a big family is special too!Â We all love to see jaws drop when we are asked questions about our family..."how many brothers and sisters do you have?"
So making your child feel special and loved is challenging whether you have a large or small family and it takes creativity and sensitivity - but mostly just being together is the best, as I've come to appreciate more than ever these last few months as I've been away from them all so much!