When we had one child, the opportunity for time just seemed endless. I remember my husband and I sitting on her floor each night playing with her before bed, stopping in our tracks just to watch her newest trick, and easily forgetting the rest of the world to focus on her.
But then our son came along and all of a sudden the days didn’t seem long enough.
If we sat to watch one, we missed out on the other.
Plus, the housework seemed to quadruple and someone was always upset.
Each day began to flood with a million things to get done. And now we had two children who wanted (and needed) our undivided attention.
It just seemed impossible.
We still managed to spend time with each of them before bed at night: reading books, praying, and loving on one another — but it still didn’t feel like enough.
I would go to bed thinking there was more I could’ve done.
I knew they each needed their own attention, they craved for it — it was obvious.
If I gave attention to one, then the other would be left out. That would be counter-productive, wouldn’t it?
And then, after reading an article, the answer seemed so obvious:
Take them on a date!
Saying it seems a little weird, but it makes sense.
They now need their own time together. Not just apart from their siblings, but with each parent alone. I know my husband lets them do and get away with so much more when I am not around, but that’s the relationship they have. They can do that with him. And in the process, they create their own memories.
Just like I get to be more laid back when he is not around. I don’t have to feel like the drill sergeant to keep them in line. I can breathe and enjoy the moment, because, at the end of the day, that was “our time” together. Not focusing on disciplining them, or keeping them in line, but just focusing on us.
During this process of “dating,” my husband and I will each take a kid to go to do something special alone with them.
We’ve tried two different methods to “dating” our kids. And both of them are equally important.
The Spending Time Together Days:
These days range from my husband and son going fishing to my husband and daughter going bowling. Or my son and I playing outside (alone, while the others are gone) to my daughter and I getting our nails done.
The purpose of these “dates” are simply just to spend alone time together. And, let me tell you, it’s wonderful.
It’s always fun to hangout with your children alone. You learn, and can focus on, so many things you miss during the hustle-and-bustle of life. You realize how quickly they’ve grown up, or witness them achieving something on their own that you hadn’t noticed before. I’m telling you, you will be amazed the things you learn about your child when you are spending time alone with them. I mean, uninterrupted, focused time with them.
Some of the best memories I have with my children are the times I’ve gotten to spend with them alone.
Just like the other day, my husband and son went to the dump and my daughter decided not to go (which is a complete shocker in our house, because the kids LOVE the trip to the dump because their Daddy always stops by the store and lets them pick up candy — a tradition they will treasure when they get older, I know it.)
But, she decided not to go because she wanted us to have a “girl’s day.” (: (: Even though it was only a half an hour, we had one of the best times together. I let her sneak into the freezer and pick out some ice cream for us and we played a board game. Nothing special, but it makes my heart so happy thinking back to that little moment.
These are the moments you need in your relationship with your kids.
Little things that you both can look back on and make you smile. Times where you look back and see nothing but happiness.
We’ve been doing these little days for years now, but it wasn’t until recently that we tried something new…
The Actual “Date”:
Now that our children are a bit older, 6 and 4, we attempted something a little different that our normal “dates.”
We actually went on a date with our kids — and it was amazing
My daughter and I got ready together. And my son and husband got ready together. We prepared for our dates separate and then…
My husband took my daughter out to dinner.
And, My son took me out to dinner.
It was the sweetest thing ever, but it also had a hidden purpose behind it.
They are quickly growing right before our eyes (and I mean quickly). Before we know it, they will be teenagers going on real dates (please note that I could seriously cry right now thinking about that…). And I want to teach them the importance of dates.
Not just so they know how to act, but so they know how to be treated as well.
I want my daughter to learn how she deserves to be treated on a date.
She should know that if he’s not going to respect her in public, he wont respect her in private either. Someone worth dating will be respectful to her, hold the door for her, pay for her dinner, interact with her (not their phone), and the list goes on.
Now, do I have high expectations for how someone should treat my daughter on a date? ABSOLUTELY! And she should too! There is no shame in knowing your worth and waiting for someone who truly values you.
Her father is her first example of what love should be like. Why shouldn’t he show her how she should be treated on a date?!
But she also should learn how to act herself. How to be polite and thank her date for doing all those things. I want her to be able to date someone without having her nose in a phone, to value the concept of conversation, and to know that a date is not a one-way street. Just like she expects him to be nice and respectful, so should she.
As for my son, I want him to grow up to be that man who can be respectful and courteous on a date.
He should grow up knowing to hold the door for women (whether on a date or not), to be respectful of their opinion, and to spend his evening focusing on his date and not on his technology.
I want him to understand that to date someone means so much more than dinner and a kiss at night. Dating someone should mean that you are trying to see a future with them… even if it is the distant, distant future… but I don’t want him to date just to occupy time (or my daughter either). I want him to know that a date is purposeful.
I also want him to know his worth. He deserves a date who is respectful to him, who appreciates his manners and willingness to pay without expecting anything in return. He deserves to be treated well and to have someone who will focus their attention on him too.
I know these are a lot of things to try to teach little ones. However, I truly think that, by leading them through example, these are concepts they will be able to have instilled with them later in life. When they look back and remember the little things we did: my husband opening the door for my daughter or my son reaching his tiny fingers into his wallet to pay for our dinner (Let me tell ya, this about had me in tears. Watching my baby walk up to the counter, with his wallet in hand, and paying for our meal — ugh, that will never be a sight this momma will forget.)
Eventually these ideas will stick with them. They may be put in a situation and think, “This is not how you are supposed to act on a date.” Or it may make them more aware of little red flags that they wouldn’t have noticed before.
This is our hope at least.
What I learned:
I have high expectations. But, I really already knew that – just ask my husband.
But that’s okay. They’re my babies — we all do, don’t we?
I learned how valuable alone time is with each of them. Not only to teach them things, but just to spend time getting to know them more. Even to spend time just to simply love on them more.
Even if they “learn” nothing, I hope they will look back and remember the times we shared together. The dinners, board games, secret trips to the freezer — they will look back and remember how we spent the time to focus on them, because they are what’s important to us in life. And hopefully, they will treasure these memories just as much as we do.