I’ve written on my blog before about the importance of “me” time (twice, in fact) and couples taking a break from their parenting life to spend quality time together. Here is why I think both are so important: taking time on your own or with your spouse, to de-stress and do something you enjoy, not only helps bring more happiness within yourself, but also in your relationship as a couple. It can have a domino effect – happy individual, happy couple, happy family.
But what about having quality, one-on-one time with your kids? Is this not equally important to “me” time or a night out with your spouse? I believe it is, and that is the reason I want to discuss why I think it is important to date your kids.
Now before your head spins, obviously I don’t mean date in the romantic sense. However, take a moment to think about why people date (romance aside). Two people who have just met will go on date as a way to get to know each other, or in the case of a couple who have been together for a while, they will go on a date to strengthen their already established bond.
As parents I think it is essential to the relationship with your kids to continue getting to know them and strengthening your bond with them. Family life can be hectic, between work, school or daycare, cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, homework, sports or extra-curricular activities, the list goes on – while you may all be seeing each other every day, how much of that is quality time?
I don’t know about you, but in my household it is very common for my kids to want my attention right when I am in the middle of doing something, whether it’s getting ready to go to work, making dinner, or doing a load of laundry. Our busy everyday life doesn’t always allow for me to spend enough individual time with my son and daughter, and lately it seems my kids have been showing me that this is something they want more of. My daughter has been going through a bit of a clingy phase, sometimes getting upset when I drop her off at daycare and saying she’s going to miss me and wants to stay with me (talk about tugging at the heart strings!) And my son, my little helper, is always following me around the house asking to help with cooking, vacuuming or putting a load of laundry going.
I made the decision that every once in a while I need to drop everything and just hang out with my kids, whether it’s in the moment or planned. Dishes need to be done but my kids have started an impromptu dance party in the family room? I’m gonna leave the dishes on the counter and get my groove on! My kids want me to read them a book? Doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I love books and I love reading to my kids so that answer is obvious.
Recently I spent some planned one-on-one time with each of my kids. First I spent some time with my daughter. I went with her to her toddler dance class one Saturday morning and then afterward took her on a shopping date. After some fun twirling, skipping and jumping to music, I went to pick out some new clothes for my little lady. I made a point of letting her choose clothes that she wanted since I normally do it myself. She really enjoyed having me hold up outfits next to her and asking her what she thinks. The result of our outing was lots of hugs and kisses and being told I was the best mommy!
The next day I took my son out on a lunch date. He was very excited about picking the restaurant, and I was very excited to spend some one-one-one time with him to talk about what he’s looking forward to learning this school year and about joining a new sport ball class at the community centre. Sadly, none of those conversations took place. You see, my son has recently become quite the baseball fan and is showing more interest in checking out sports. I made the mistake of going with him to a restaurant that typically plays sports on the televisions found all throughout the place. Needless to say his eyes were glued to the screen and he paid very little attention to me. While this wasn’t the outing I was hoping for, I decided to look at it as a learning point. Before we left the restaurant I calmly told him that I was upset, that he hurt my feelings and that I wanted to have a discussion with him at home. After we got home, I spoke to him about his manners while being out for a meal with someone and that it’s not polite to ignore them. I asked him how he would feel if I had done the same to him and he responded that he would be sad. We ended our lunch date outing with an apology and a hug. We also made the agreement that perhaps the next time we plan one-on-one time together we will do something that will be more of a bonding experience.
I am definitely glad that I have taken more opportunities to spend quality time with my kids. By doing so I have been learning more about the personalities and interests they are developing. My daughter is turning into quite the storyteller! She’s always making up things while she plays with her toys, and not only is it quite sweet but also sometimes quite comical! I am seeing more and more that she might have my husband’s sense of humour. My son is very inquisitive. He often asks about why things are the way they are, or how things work (although it’s not always fun when he asks such questions at bedtime!) For his first piece of homework this September (he’s in senior kindergarten) the students were asked what they want to learn about this school year. His answer was that he wants to learn how playgrounds are built! I also love his growing taste in music and how much he enjoys dancing and singing along (or trying to since he doesn’t know all the words).
As parents we always believe that we know our kids best. And while this is true, spending quality time to really get to know who our kids are also gives us a stronger bond with them. So, does this mean there will be a second date, you might ask? You betcha!