By today’s standards, we have a large family—four girls. In a large family where both parents work outside the home, it’s easy to get lost in the everyday shuffle. It’s also easy to forget to connect when you’re just trying to survive each day—running from work to practice, food, baths, household chores.
That’s why we make it a point to date our kids.
We do three rounds of dates per year: Mommy date, Daddy date, Mommy and Daddy date. These dates are our chance to make sure we really connect. Our kids look forward to these dates and so do we. Sometimes the date is fancy and big, other times it’s a park and ice cream. The point isn’t what we do, it’s who we do it with.
Each date provides different insight into our girls. When we’re on our individual dates, they’ll tell each of us things they don’t naturally tell the other. Our Mommy and Daddy date is an opportunity to be surrounded in love and giggle at all the funny things in life.
These dates let us see our kids individually. We really get to know what’s at the center of each little heart.
Don’t get me wrong, we spend lots of time doing this throughout the year, but when they get to be the sole center of attention, we get to see what’s important to them. There isn’t competing for attention (which happens a lot when the ages are really close together). Funnily enough, their personalities are different when they’re alone. My bull in a china shop girl is quite the little lady when she isn’t fighting to be heard.
We started dates when our oldest became a big sister—she was 5 1/2 when our middle daughter came. Hot on her heels (14 months later) were identical twin girls. When you go from being the one and only to one of many in that short of a time frame, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been forgotten. The dates were the solution we came up with.
“If you feel that you need some extra attention or need to talk, let us know and we’ll make time super soon. It may not be the second you ask, but we promise to make the time even if you need to stay up past bedtime to do it.” In those words, we were able to give some control back to what had become a pretty chaotic life.
Over the years, we’ve refined dates, included the younger girls, and really focused on what each wants to do with us. Though honestly, to them, it doesn’t matter what we do. They are just genuinely happy to have the time alone with us. My favorite reactions to dates are when they plan and plan what they want to do, but ultimately come up with, “I just want to spend time with you. Can we play a game?” or “Just you and me?!”
The value isn’t in where we are or what we do, it’s in who we’re doing it with.
Why do we do this? We do it because we want our girls to know they are important. We do it because we want to be who they talk to when things get hard. We want to be who they turn to when they’ve tried hard and failed. We want to be who they want to talk to when they’re carrying a heavy burden they need to unload . . . we want to be their comfort.
When we spend time with them, we find out who and what is important to them. Those people and those things become important to us, too because they are impacting our kids.
It’s important for my husband and me to date so we stay connected. It’s just as important to us to stay connected to our kids, so we date them, too. Date your kids, they’re worth the investment!