With the addition of another child every other year or so, we knew it was important to spend time with the older children. (We were taught by our early mentors to put as much time and energy into our first two kids as we possibly could, knowing that the “trickle down effect” of teaching would come into play.)
Note: This is another reason we have felt so strongly about not letting an eight month old, eighteen month old, or twenty-eight month old determine the entire family’s schedule [i.e. have a “toddler run home”]—it never felt right to let a toddler’s “wants” override a teen’s needs. Anyway, because of the advice we received to invest significantly in our older kids for the “trickle down effect” (which majorly works, I might add), we always looked for ways to spend more time with Joshua (now 29) and Kayla (now 26). One of the ways I did this was to implement “Terrific Tuesday” or “Wonderful Wednesday.”
One afternoon a week (either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on our schedule) a different “older” child got to have Mom to himself or herself for a few hours. We tweaked our afternoon schedule (which usually involved Mom teaching/story time/lesson planning), so that right after lunch, somebody else did story time with the littles and got them to bed for their naps (one of the olders not having her “Terrific Tuesday” that day), and I gave my undivided attention to one of the other olders.
The child got to choose what we did for our afternoon together (though it couldn’t be expensive—just a few dollars at the most). I spent many a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon at the public library, reading a chapter book aloud at Dairy Queen, playing ping pong in the basement, or challenging a tween to a Scrabble or Rummikub match. And then, of course, as the title of this series suggests, in addition to being a “terrific Tuesday,” it also became another ‘terrific time to talk.”
When kids get their parents’ undivided attention, something happens within their hearts. There is a softening that takes place that doesn’t just happen when you are gathered around the game table or watching a movie as a family. Kids (especially tweens and teens) are very astute when it comes to their parents’ priorities. Showing our kids that they are truly our priorities causes a special bond that doesn’t just happen when we only make time for their sporting events, debates, or concerts.
And yes, it was a sacrifice for me. I used to (and continue to do so today with my writing work) have to work later in the evenings and often after the kids were in bed in order to get all of the work done that is required in raising a large family and homeschooling several children. Our special times with our kids were not just “extra” time that we had waiting to be used. They took conscious efforts and sacrifices to make them happen. But now that our seven children are nearly eighteen to thirty-three, I can tell you unequivocally—it is worth it all to find as many “terrific times to talk” as you can.