WFMW: Dating my kids

When Finny was born and the older three un-nurslings were getting the shaft, we looked upon the mayhem and decided in a fit of inspiration/desperation to divide and conquer in order to investigate where our sweet, cooperative children had gone and how to evict their horrible replacements. And so.... the Special Day was born.

It was simple. Each child was given a day, we started off giving each kid a day every week but then dropped to every kid getting a day twice a month. (Hey, we have a lot of kids!) On the designated day, Aaron or I would take The Chosen One and only The Chosen One out on a date of their choice (within reason and a budget of $10).

And then we focused our complete and undivided attention on that child. If this meant listening to one solid hour of Pokemon gobbledegook, feigning rapt attention then so be it. The results were quite startling. Children who had been not so slowly becoming demonic suddenly, within one hour became human, even angelic again.

But perhaps even more importantly was that we got to know them as individuals again, we were reminded that they were hilarious, thoughtful, sweet, quirky, creative and simply delightful. We talked to them about what was making them tick, what was stressing them out and we got to spoil them. And they got to know us, that we liked to eat all the whipped cream before we started drinking the hot chocolate, that we once wet our pants at preschool, that we prayed that their future spouse would cherish them the way we did.

I also discovered that I have a favourite child.

It was The Chosen one. Every time. Now that is one cool kid. My fav for sure.

Life is busier now and Special Days are less regular, but whenever one of my kids starts to show a little more attitude then is strictly necessary, starts to seem distracted or withdrawn, or when I start to see my children as a noisy foursome rather then four fabulous individuals, I know that a date needs to become a priority.

I have learned to be creative, maybe sneak in a date with one while the others are at soccer practice, maybe go for a long and vaguely torturous run together, perhaps surprise them by pulling them out of school a little early and taking them out to lunch before that dentist know, that sort of sneaky, subversive thing. Sometimes it just means letting one of them stay up a little later, or snuggling next to them in their bed for a few minutes of whispered chat after kissing them goodnight.

And the results continue to be startling. And as much as I put tremendous stock in the power of my terrifying Look aimed at a misbehaving kid, I have to say that Special Days are the most effective disciplinary tool that I have in my mommy arsenal.

It makes sense you know. We grow closest to our Heavenly Father when we have regular one-on-one time with Him too. I figure if it works for Him..

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nyn said...

I love this. Shae and I have been doing this with the girls since our second was born and Elise turned five. It is amazing how they thrive with that one on one time. I know they love it, but so do I.

Kelly @ The Miller Mix said...

We've been doing this with out older child and it really does work wonders. Our variation is that we go to his school for lunch every other Friday and then have breakfast out on the Saturday between those Fridays. He loves it and we get to really focus on him and only him.

Peg said...

You are such a good mom!

{april kennedy} said...

I, too, love this post. Dave and I have meaning to do this...a little differently though. Each month is date night with daddy or mommy, switching kids each month. Thanks for the reminder.

And just a few months ago, at the end of the school year, Kaia was having friend troubles at school. She stayed home from school one day and instead of making her stay in her room the whole day (since she really wasn't sick), I took her out to a fancy restaurant for lunch and we had a good talk. It was a special time for both of us. That one on one time really does work magic.

Just like prayer!

Bailey's Leaf said...

My daughter loves a date to Panera for a bowl of soup to share. She gets a bagel, I get the hunkin' lob o' bread they provide and we go to town. Our last big Happy Mommy Date took us to the local art museum to see an exhibit of Wegman photos of his dog Faye. She loved it.

Yup. The kiddos need special time. I wholeheartedly agree. They need to know that there is time that we can sit and spend together and it doesn't always involve homework. For us, my husband has created "family time" before bed. After the bath has been taken and homework done, we'll play a game together, watch a short movie-- do something with the three of us. I find that it is a time that all three of us look forward to.

Thanks for reminding us to stop and smell the roses!

Swing on by for the Crock-Pot Fest I have going on. I figure that with a houseful, you could use some crock-pot recipes! :)

Peggy said...

I love this. I need to do this. I just have one child so you'd think that we spend a lot of one on one time together but we don't. *I* don't. I need to.

{ L } said...

What a super special idea. It will be something they hold close and treasure forever.

PS I just LOVE your blog and your fun style you add to it. :)

Samantha said...

I remember doing this more officially during one of Hailey's difficult stages. And now that she is busy with school and friends I really try to spend at least an hour in the evenings with her before bed--mostly talking and reading. It really helps her go into a more restful night.

We also did this when I taught preschool. We called it "banking time." We would choose 2 or 3 more disruptive children and spend a couple times a week one on one with and activity of their choosing in which they had complete control. It worked wonders!

Rachel R. said...

Wow; I really needed to hear this. Thank you.

We have two at the moment, so maybe hubby and I can try the "each take a child" method. :)

Kate @ The Gaines Gang said...

I love this! And you are so right when they start to go south it mostly means they are looking for you praise.

Thanks for sharing!

Lydia Moon said...

Thanks for reminding me! I struggle to find the one on one time with my twins, but I really do want them to know that I love them individually. I needed to hear this again.