As a Mom of 4, one of my biggest concerns is spending enough time with each child and making sure they feel loved. In my mind, this is best achieved by sneaking time away ALONE with each cutie and really being able to focus on OUR relationship. This all sounds wonderful and very basic – but in our world with calendar squares bursting full of commitments – even a few hours is difficult to come by for such necessary parent/child bonding. Difficult, but not impossible. It all just takes
a little a lot of planning, but at the end of the day, is easily worth the juggling of the schedule.
Several years ago – when our oldest were now mature enough to be left at home without supervision and could live to tell, I started something that we (back then) called Mommy & Me time … EX: Mommy & Mary time. Now that they are all so grown up, I refer to our time together as Mom time or Mom Dates. Each child gets 2-3 opportunities in the summer to plan out an activity and know that it will be an uninterrupted time together with the best Mom in the world – or at least the best Mom in their HOUSE. They all really seem to dig it and usually have ideas by Spring as to how to spend their time with me. We leave these visits for the summer, because we naturally have more time available, what with that darned SCHOOL not being in session and ruining our plans. Each kiddo is so unique, and consequently, I have learned to expect quite different activities from them. And to be clear – it is not an entire day that we carve out to bask in our freedom from the rest of our family… if we are lucky, it’s 3-4 hours. But it’s time spent that we can experience only in that fashion – and it creates some awesome memories. Also, it doesn’t have to break the bank – to this day, one of Mary’s favorite times with her Mom was when we went to Barnes and Noble and got cozy in a big leather chair and read out loud to each other, then went and got big ice cream cones – simple pleasures!
I am always sure that the KIDS are the ones to plan our outings, so that we are to be certain to do what they WANT to be doing with their dear old Mom. Obviously, I have ~ on occasion ~ not been thrilled with the movie choice or activity plan, but I chalk it up to time together, whether it’s my favorite or not. On the flip side, we have taken FABULOUS trips to IKEA and had awesome times playing miniature golf and eating Chipotle that balances everything out. These opportunities give me a peek at the individual child rather than “the kids” as a whole – and we can both put our guards down a bit since we are out of the house and there are no chores to be done or phone to be answered or anything else that could divide our attention or throw us into “battle”. It allows me to dig a bit deeper into their lives and talk more about what is happening to them then they may want to discuss in front of the sibs. It feels like a break from norm – a tiny vacation from reality … not that our reality needs an escape – but we have our moments. We can voice our concerns about up coming events, rant and rave about whatever has us irritated, or I can just sit back and watch how these kids are maturing right in front of my very eyes . Sigh.
I am super glad that we started this tradition as a family. It, like everything else, is what you make of it. For us, it’s a fun, relaxed time to enjoy with each other. If it starts to stress anyone out, we change the date or the activity or whatever it is that is stealing our joy. I truly expect that my own babes will continue this tradition with their own kids – and I hope and pray that a quick trip to visit Grandma is part of the plan!