Kid Dates

by Davina on February 1, 2013

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She jumps out of the car, smiling, she is so happy that she has me all to herself…

The curls, like tiny springs, bounce as she walks.  Her little hand silently slips into mine as she falls into step besides me.  Leaning against my arm I realize that she’s getting so tall and, even though she is my youngest…my baby, she is no longer my baby.

Tonight we are headed to clothes shop but first we are pulling into Panera for our favorite Pick2.  Over Caesar salad and Blue Cobb we talk about school and friends, being the youngest and her new glasses.  We laugh, chat, and eat delicious brownies.  Chocolate covers our teeth and milk chases it away.

Over the fan of the heat blowing through the cold air, warming the car, I ask her how she’s feeling about our upcoming trip to England, the one where Dad and I will gone and she will stay with someone, she and her sisters and Emmett.

Her voice gets quiet , slowly she shares her fears.

And carefully we work out the details of what it will be like, why she is worried, and what steps we can take over the next couple of months.

Time stands still.

And it makes me glad that I’ve made this time every week to just be with my kids.  I’m grateful for the space I’ve made in my life for this exact conversation.

How to create kid dates:

I absolutely believe in making time to connect with each of my children everyday.  There’s something extra wonderful, though, about spending one-on-one time with each of them away from the house and the rest of the family.

Over the years our kid dates have evolved and changed. So what may work one year, doesn’t work the next year.

Now, each Tuesday night I take one of my kids out on a date while the rest of them stay home.  The evening is for one of the kids to choose what we do (within a a budget).  Mostly it’s a time for us to just get to be the two of us.

For my husband, he takes each of the kids on his Saturday trips to visit the teachers he supervises.  The trip is 3 hours and they get to go to lunch, chat, listen to music, and have him all to themselves. Each of the kids love the discussions or the opportunity to read aloud the current Harry Potter book they are engrossed in.

Steps for a fun and meaningful kid date:

  1. Figure out a time monthly or weekly that can be consistent.  You can plan on it.  Your kids can plan on it.  You can know that every week you’ll get to spend some time with one of your kids one-on-one).
  2. With the kids help we made a calendar with Tuesday highlighted.  They came up with the order of who gets to date when.  For every Tuesday there is one child’s name in the  day to remind us all who’s week it is for a date.  I have four kids, so that means every child gets at least on date with me every month.
  3. Create a list of thing you can do together.  Ask your kids for their input.  Have them make their own list to choose from each time they have their date.  This list keeps dates from becoming frustrating for everyone.
  4. Have some questions that you ask each time you have a date together.  For example:  *tell me about school, *how are your friends, *what do you wish I would do better?
  5. Allow your kids to be very open with you, refrain from judging their answers and be willing to just listen.
  6. Make sure they know that this is sacred time to you by keeping your date something they can count on.
  7. Have fun!  This is your chance to be exclusively available to your child, build a relationship with them that fills you up, and create a lifelong understanding that you are important to one another.

Date nights with your kids can become a highlight of your week.

What kinds of ways do you make time for your children?  Do you have a system for your own kids dates or one-one-one time with your children?

 

davinafear_09Davina enjoys dates that include gooey hands, Harry Potter book reading, and trips to see an Aardvark.

When she’s not out adventuring she can sometimes be found teaching Familyness Photo Workshop!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Frau_Mahlzahn February 2, 2013 at 8:17 am

I don’t know — I am a mother of three, so I know how hard it can be to manage every day life _and_ find one on one time with my kids. Which they deserve, no doubt. But it kind of makes me sad that there apparently is a need to set up rules what to do and talk about and to “institutionalize” it. Don’t misunderstand — I agree that one on one time is absolutely necessary (and wonderful), but I think it ought to be self-understood and not such a big-deal-thing or another-thing-that-needs-to-be-done-and-here-is-how -you-do-it-thing…

So long,
Corinna

Reply

Davina February 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Hello Corinna,

Thank you for your thoughtful post. :)

I completely understand what you mean; listening to our children, being there for them, and making time for them should just come naturally to us. It should be something that we just do without thinking. I agree! And what a blessing your perspective is to your kids and family! I love it!

The suggestions I’ve made here are suggestions to get the creative juices flowing and I believe there are many ways that kids dates can happen.

I’ve created moments of my day to purposefully know that I’m making time for my kids. I thought it was naturally happening enough…and then realized it wasn’t. Mostly, it became a realization as my kids have gotten older. Once they didn’t NEED me for everything when they were little. Once they started becoming more and more independent (which is awesome and what I want for my kids) I realized they needed the one-to-one connection to be more real, more on purpose than ever.

With four kids myself, once they leave little-kid-dom :), life gets a lot more crazy. And we don’t even *do* that much. I believe in keeping our life as simple as possible (we aren’t running to soccer games or private lessons or clubs everyday of the week) so that I can make space for just being with my kids and so that they can live more fully. I’ve built in routines in our day so that one-on-one time happens with each of them everyday. (more to come in future posts on all of these little details).

I know, for me, I intend to be with each of my children everyday. But sometimes we end up out late and the day is crazy and homework takes wayyyy longer than planned and people wake up late in the morning, and they’ve had the second tardy to school this week because we’re just off our game, and the whole day feels like a rushing mess. Knowing that I have created moments in my life that my kids can count on getting my undivided attention gives me greater peace as a mom. It has reminded me that I do make myself purposefully available to them and I know that gives them peace, too.

So happy that you’re creating one-on-one time with your kids naturally! You’re awesome!

Reply

Colleen February 2, 2013 at 9:40 am

We do “sneak ups”. When the other two girls are asleep….once in a while we let one sneak up, or wake her up so she can watch tv and snuggle and chat and read with us.
Sometimes there is daddy x 3 where he will take all 3 on an adventure….just dad and his three girls…..
And sometimes well just go on a dateas you described….tho my last one with my oldest (7) was sad….happy sad….I saw just how grown up she is becoming!!

Reply

Davina February 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm

How fun, Colleen! We do this with our 15 year old son. I’ve not thought about doing it with our three girls! I love it. “Sneakups” must make them feel like they’re on a special secret meeting to get to have the two of you completely to themselves to snuggle, read, and chat. I LOVE this idea. And what a great way to work it into your daily life. Thanks for sharing…I think I’ll try this!

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destri February 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm

We just started date nights with our two kids, and it has been so fun for them. We only have two, and so my husband takes one and I take one. We have only done two, one night a month.
They talk about it almost everyday.

Sure we do stuff all the time together, but something about letting them know that it is a night just for the two of us makes it special.
Love your ideas Davina, and I can’t wait to carry the tradition as my kids get older!

Reply

Davina February 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Destri, what a perfect set up! I’ve found that it’s so fun for my kids and in some crazy twist of things it makes them happier and more well behaved. People who feel loved *want* to be more loving to those around them. I love that unexpected phenomenon of kid dates!

In fact, when I take one of my kids on their date on Tuesday night the kids at home are especially awesome. They take special care to have the house completely cleaned up and make sure to have a super awesome time at home together. They want everyone to have a great experience on their date (including themselves) so they make it good for each other. I love the compassion that it creates for everyone! It’s so cool! :)

What an awesome tradition you’ve started in your family. Thanks for sharing, Destri! :)

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Maria February 4, 2013 at 10:37 pm

I need to get back to doing this. We were doing pretty well until we added number three. :) We haven’t done many out of the house dates, but try to do special at home things with one while the other is at a play date or sleeping. I totally agree with you Davina. It does in some freakishly amazing way make children more loving and well behaved. Thanks for this great post!

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