I have four kids. FOUR.
Some days I wonder how I got here?!?! It used to be just me, running around, worrying about… well, I don’t really remember what I worried about. (It’s been a while. I’m sure it was important.)
Now I have this awesome posse of children with me everywhere I go. It’s amazing. 🙂
But one thing I do worry about is thinking of my kids like a “posse”. I tend to clump them all into a group, while forgetting they are each individual little people. Full of uniqueness and divine potential.
Especially my second daughter.
She is so independent. She does her homework, clips her nails, tends the baby, keeps up on her chores and really doesn’t need much mom support (yeah, she’s amazing). But as a result, she tends to get lost in the shuffle. Sometimes I don’t really know what’s going on in her head.
In a quiet moment (you know, those mothering moments when I pull away from the world), I had the inspired idea to start mom-daughter dates. Yes, I know this concept isn’t new, but at our house it is. And we’re preteening it here, desperate times….
So I did what any sensible mother would do- I borrowed my little brother’s long board.
My daughter loves to long board. She is the only one in our family who does. And she is getting quite good at it. So I figured, I’d jump into her activity and join the fun. After dinner one night, while the rest of the family did the dishes and baths, the two of us strapped on our helmets and wrist guards and headed to the streets.
I felt as cool as this guy:
But looked a lot like this:
Seriously. I’m terrible. I looked like a giraffe trying to balance on a log. Although, I did make it past my neighbor’s houses without falling. Small victories. 🙂
We spent 30 minutes boarding through the neighborhood (and no, I will not give you my address. I don’t need any embarrassing pictures floating around.) 🙂 I didn’t improve much, but I did learn that my daughter is nervous about her upcoming testing and is going to miss her big sister when she goes to middle school next year. I remembered what a contagious laugh she has and that she is always up for an adventure.
It was a sweet success.
Dropping into her world for just those few moments, has strengthened our relationship. She snuggles up to me more often. She talks more. I understand her needs better. Everything is a bit smoother.
My husband and I are now committed to spending a little bit of one-on-one time with each of our kids. Often. It is never big or expensive, but more small, sweet and tender. Short walks to the river, playing at the park, studying a Pokemon book, talking in their bed with the lights off. Whatever it is, the important ingredient is full-parental focus.
Here are a few ideas to get you started, and yes, they are in my typical, simple, no-fuss style:
- Ask them to tell or teach you about their favorite interest (be sure to be in a quiet spot where no one else will interrupt);
- Sign up for a class together. I know one mother-daughter team that takes a Spanish class together every week;
- Go out for Slurpees and drink them at a park;
- Watch a youtube video on fancy handwriting and practice together. (here’s a favorite of ours.)
- Snuggle in bed and make shadow puppets on the wall;
- Take them to one of your favorite places;
- Go on a bike ride;
- Read a book snuggled under their favorite blanket;
- Just sit on the floor of their room, at their eye-level and just listen.
What do you do for parent-child dates? I’d love to hear your ideas! If you don’t, I challenge you to try it out. I bet you’ll see great benefits!