Last week, my 7-year-old son stomped into my room and asked, "Ya know what, Mama?" I sat back, wondering what could be so important to this little fellow at this moment. Carter then blurted out, "The dog's off button doesn't work anymore!"

The dog's off button doesn't work anymore? 

The picture came to mind of a golden lab puppy jumping up and begging for Carter's attention. Carter held a remote control with a single big red "off" button that seemed to not be working. Hence, the ever-loving puppy kept leaping up and irritating my son. 

Right away I understood what he was talking about. You see, a few months ago we had bought a puppy, and ever since had been training it to obey simple commands.

Working together, we had taught our dog to sit and shake. However, our entire family was frustrated at how he continued to jump on us even though we were trying to teach him that "off" meant to get down and not jump on anyone.

On this day, my son diagnosed the problem as a broken "off button." As cute as his remark was, this image made me realize that kids and dogs have some things in common. Our lab needed and wanted our undivided attention, if only for a few minutes of our busy day.

Our pup was always energetic and ready to play, just like kids. And just like kids, he was happy and generally stayed out of trouble as long as his caretakers were giving him love and attention.

I guess I'm a bit like our dear little puppy dog too. I have discovered, through various relationships, that the major way I show love is through spending time. I prefer that others demonstrate their love for me in the same way. I recognize that each one of us brings in our own variation of a love language. My husband prefers physical affection when giving and receiving love. My father shows his love by bearing gifts along with hugs and kisses.

Like all other humans, my kids have their own love languages, but no matter their primary one, each desires to have alone time with me, my husband, and the other siblings. My husband and I share a mutual desire to have our own alone time as well. The two of us also need alone time separately with each child. As a homeschooling parent, you are demonstrating every day that people come before things. I believe the fruit of your homeschooling will be seen in the relationships with your children. Someone once said, "When God measures a man, he puts the tape around the heart, not around the head."

 This whole idea of spending time with your family members individually has been richly rewarding to us, and I know it can be rewarding for you as well. Proverbs 9:11 says, "For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased."

I am thankful for the many memories our family has collected. It's great when I hear my children beg to do a special activity again that has proven itself to be well worth the time, effort, and even money we put into it. Receiving verbal praises for mommy dates, sleeping with an older sibling, or working at Daddy's shop is delightful! My husband's talent for arranging for a babysitter and saving up date-night money is defined by me as both romantic and brilliant.

When my husband and I prayed, thought, and weighed all our options before teaching our first child at home, I had no idea that I'd have to intentionally work at refining how I built relationships with my children. With practice though, we all have developed habits of fitting in special one-on-one time naturally into every day. I came up with three ways I can do this—three ways all of us might give the gift of time and connect better.

Find Five Minutes 

Even for families with several children, this is a great place to start. Look into your daily life and take five minutes to spend completely alone and uninterrupted with each member of your family. I actually have this time scheduled on my daily planner. Pick any time of the day when both of you are available, and spend the time alone without any other distractions.