Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dating your kids ... and why it's so important...

I've turned this post over and over in my mind for weeks. And I've hesitated to write it, wanting every detail to be perfect. It's a subject near and dear to my heart. But since it's been so important to me, I've put it off... and put it off... and put it off... till it's been months and I nothing to show for the time I've mulled it over.

Till finally this afternoon I decided I was just going to sit down and write it. For better or for worse, here it is. Bear with me.

With that first child, everything is glorious and wonderful. At least it was for me. Being a stay at home mom, I had household stuff, bills and appointments on my list. But for the most part, I also had an abundance of time to spend with Noah. I've heard other mom's say that first child was a hard adjustment for them. But for me, I just seemed to slip into the reality of living my life around another human being. Especially one so precious as my first child.

Then Lydia came along. Equally as beautiful, equally as sweet, and equally as in need of my time and attention. And as the saying going, work for two kids doesn't just double, but rather it quadruples. Suddenly I found myself without the time to devote all the attention my oldest child desired. And let me tell you, being a socialite, Noah desires a lot of one on one attention.

I also suddenly saw my relationship with my Noah begin to deteriorate. Part sibling rivalry, part terrible twos, part a lack of my own perspective, things were crazy that first year. There are good chunks for that first year that I don't remember. :-) And there was a lot that I learned in that year... and am still learning.

One of the greatest things I'm learning about is "Dating my kids." It sort of all just came about by accident. Two kids, two parents, occasional scheduling conflicts, and BAM! ... You have time with just one kid. But unless you take it to the next level, it remains simply that, ... shuttling one kid to an event and nothing more. The same holds true even if you're a parent of only one child. All the time in the world with that one child won't mean anything if it's not intentional.

Slowly as time evolved, we saw trends in our schedule. My hubby started taking Lydia to gym class on Tuesdays and I'd pick up Noah from school as the time overlapped. Every other week, we just come home and make lunch. But every other week, we've developed our date time. And it can look different from season to season. But nonetheless, every other week, Noah and I spend very intentional time doing something together, out of the ordinary, specifically FOR HIM. There are similiar times in my schedule with Lydia. Just me and her slowing down our day and being together.

These are just a few of the ideas we've developed so far:

*Hot chocolate dates at Starbucks-I hate spending the money, but realistically, every other week, just a kid's hot chocolate and a small latte for me. We sit down between taking Noah to school and heading off to MOPS. We sip our treats and be silly girls. She gets a chance to "talk" without being interrupted and I can really hear what she has to say.

*Lending Library/Library visits- both of the kids love going there and picking out new toys or games to play with. And going by themselves, I get to see what they're really interested in. We always pick up something for the child that's not with us. This has also developed a sense of thinking of their sibling. I've been surprised by how thoughtful they can be.

*Splitting a Jamba Juice- I recently asked if they would split a 16 oz into two cups. So for less that $4, it bought me and Noah some quality time together. I was surprised how much of a treat this was for him. We sat and sipped on our drinks, and it was just right, both price wise and calorie wise. He told me all kinds of stuff that day and we just laughed and laughed.

*Parks and museums-When we're all together, the older one can't go too far from the younger one. And the younger one can't keep up with the older one. While this is just life, it's fun to take them one on one once in awhile. Noah's surprised me by how agile he is when I just let him loose. And Lydia has shown an interest in new parts of the playground that her brother would steer away from.

*Picking a new item at the grocery store to try together-My kids have picked out some interesting items and I've vetoed a few on occasion. But for the most part, it's been a lot of fun. We've tried new things and it's built quite a memory and experience together. You'd be surprised by how impressed your kids will be that you'll try something new with them.

That's just a couple of things I can think of off the top of my head. Spending time one on one with our kids takes time and scheduling, but we know that it will pay exponentially as they grow. We've already seen a change in our son. Both kids really. We continue to marvel at how different they are apart and together. Just as sharing and thinking of others can only be learned in a group, so there are other lifelong lessons that are best learned by individual attention.

I'd love to hear how you "date your kids" and the effect it's had on your relationship. Leave me a comment sharing your personal experience.

Linked to:
Works for Me Wednesday @ Rocks in My Dryer


Elizabeth said...

very cool :)

Fairion said...

I love the pick something new at the grocery store idea.

3XMom said...

we do that too! We both work and have 3 kids, so getting alone time with mom and dad is rare. We try and do one per weekend, although if we arrange a playdate right- we can sometimes do 2. The kids LOVE it. We have also done manicures (at home and at salon), gone to a high school swimming pool to swim, gone to nature preserves, etc.

whit said...

Great post Robin! Quinn and I have been talking about this a lot lately. I firmly believe that two things are essential above all else, 1. helping your children develop their own testimonies of our savior, and 2. making sure our children know that they are loved, through action and word.

Lee said...

Yeah, we find that these moments of being one on one with the kids means so much more than any thing we can say to them.

Vanessa Washburn said...

Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill talks about his daddy dates in his peasant princess sermon series. I love the idea and It's great to hear about other people putting it into practice.

Sherry said...

Definitely need to do this with mine. Thank you for sharing!

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