One of our favorite ways to stay close to our kids was always spending one-on-one time with them. Yes, we had seven children in fourteen years. Yes, we were busy. Yes, my husband worked long hours.
But just about nothing got in the way of staying close to our kids. It was that important. (And it still is today with our adult children ages seventeen to thirty-two!)
Carving out one-on-one time with our kids in a busy household is not easy. Everything is vying for our time and attention. However, one way that we found to do this was to “make a date.” That is, make appointments and actual schedule that time so that (1) the child knew it was coming and (2) we knew that it was already planned and the child knew about it—so we were less likely to cancel. (Somehow, saying that we are going to have more time together just doesn’t work that well!)
We did this in a number of ways—half birthday dinners with Mom and Dad, Wonderful Wednesdays, “sit closest to Mom days,” and many more…all of which give me great joy in their memories.
Recently we have added a downloadable product to our store to help families set up these “appointments” with their kids. They are called “Keep Close Coupons.” The title alone tells your child that time with him or her is important—it is purposeful. That you want time with your child and that you want to be close to him.
I have tips in the Keep Close Coupon front matter describing how to use these coupons, so I thought I would share them here in a blog post as well. These tips apply whether you buy our coupons or create your own. 🙂
(For more on building strong relationships with your kids, see our podcast episode, Ten Tips for Staying Close During Intense Training Times With Tweens and Teens.)
Thoughts about these coupons
(1) There are a lot of coupons for special things floating around, but we like these because their name tells the why behind them. We are going to do this or that because we want to keep close.
(2) Don’t pass them out constantly—and possibly not even once a week. (Other coupons, like affirmation ones, are good for weekly or lunch box types of coupons.)
(3) These should be used to communicate to the child that you want to do something special together so that you can be close to each other.
(4) Try to do low to no cost things so that it doesn’t become a thing where your child always has to DO something in order to be with you. (See ideas below.)
(5) Alternate with just Mom; just Dad; and Mom and Dad together with the child.
(6) The activities together do not have to be long. (Again, see ideas below.) They can be as short as an hour long card game or a walk in the neighborhood.
(7) While you don’t want these to get expensive, if you have pre-teens and teens, do plan to incorporate some food-related outings! It can be simple like an ice cream cone from McDonalds, but our experience has been that tweens and teens love to eat!
(8) Be sure that your times together are not always so activity-driven that you can’t talk and just be together. For example, while going to the movies might be fun, it would be better to go to the park and take a picnic snack and walk around the lake so that you can really connect.
(9) Take notes about what your child likes, what outings or times together meant a lot to him before, etc. Our oldest son thrived on my husband meeting him in the driveway to shoot baskets at ten every night after Ray had put the littles to bed. Some things are more special to some kids than other things are.
(10) If you are giving these to teens, you might not want to put a date on the coupon. While it is easier to schedule with an elementary child (Saturday morning breakfast sandwich at the park), teens’ schedules are often challenging to work around. You want to give him the what then determine a time together that works. (These should not feel like obligations to the teens—like time that you are taking away from other things.)