A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children ~Proverbs 13:22
So we have three beautiful children. As with most siblings, they spend a lot of time together. They even get along most of the time, and play together pretty well (yes, there are two qualifiers in that sentence). And they usually interact with us (their parental units) on a group basis.
None of that is bad. But these are three individuals. Three very different individuals. It was made abundantly apparent to my grandparents, who visited us today, that their great-grandchildren are very different from each other. All three of the kids were very loud, but they all interacted in different ways. We had my eldest giving projects/creations he had made that included paper airplanes and drawings he had made. He eventually (having been cooped up indoors for too long) ended up running around and doing his ‘ninja’ moves for everyone’s entertainment. Then there was my daughter, who talked at length with my grandfather about princesses and drew him a heart. Then she played mother hen to her baby brother. Baby Brother, who had just gotten up from naps, decided to play bashful (something that apparently did not even cross the minds of his elder siblings). Then Baby Brother was dressed in a princess dress (thanks to his sister) and finally made his grand debut.*
All this to say, even in an hour, it is apparent that our children are not a group- they are individuals. And getting to know these individuals can be difficult. Either because of their stage of life (for example, a newborn needs more attention, because they can’t do anything on their own), or because of personalities (someone is extra loud/attention seeking and someone else is more likely to fade into their own room for some alone time). Of course I could go on to list plenty of other obstacles for getting quality time with a single child in a full house, but the reason is not what I wanted to talk about today.
I wanted to talk about DATES!! Yes, dates with your children. It is something my husband’s father did with his children. And it left such a big impact on my husband, he started it with our kids. I have to admit to being lukewarm about dates. But we found a way to make it work with our family. And even more importantly (to me), my husband decided to include me in the dates!
A quick outline of what worked for us: On any Saturday morning when we would all be home (nothing big is going on/we aren’t traveling/etc.) one parent takes one child on a date. There are two of us and three of them, so if we switch every other time, and the kids go every third time, it’s all equal. What does a date consist of? Saturday morning breakfast and whatever errands need to be done. I usually take the kids to a coffee shop (because I forget that it’s not always all about me), and the grocery store.*** My husband takes the kids to the breakfasting spot of their choice (he is much more selfless than I am) and then the auto parts store or FleetFarm. And during our time with the kids, we just spend time with them. I don’t have a list of tricks for you, or items to talk about. We just give our time and full attention to one of our children for one morning.
And it is so much fun.
So I had to share with you. Take it or leave it. Tweak it to work with your schedule and your family.****
And in all you do, may the Lord bless your endeavors. May He bless you as you interact with others. May he open your heart to the good work He is doing in others, so that you may be an encouragement to them. And may you be encouraged! In Jesus name, Amen!
*I should add that after my grandparents left, Baby Brother decided to play “Underwear Man” and was running around the house in just his diaper, yelling at the top of his lungs, and destroying anything he could pull down and stomp on.**
**I was just thankful that he waited until they had left before showing his true wild colors.
***The difference between grocery shopping with one child versus three… it’s incredible. Words cannot even begin to describe the *bliss* of grocery shopping with only one child!
****In other words: if it’s stressful, then you’re not doing it right.