I (Rebekah) am a WAHM (work at home mom) which can be a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I find I am so busy with work that I don’t have time for all the other important things in my life and often the lines between work time and family time can get blurred. One of the most important things is obviously my daughter Finley. I want her to feel like her mommy always has time for her and isn’t constantly glued to her phone or other home/work related things. Most of my work for one of the jobs that I have requires me to be on my phone/computer communicating with people all day. So it can get a bit distracting and if I am not careful the most important people in my life will feel the most neglected. While my little girl is still young I want to learn how to balance that time and make her feel the most important.
I have decided I am going to carve out a special time for Finley. I want to make it a habit to “date” my daughter. Since Finley could sit up in a highchair by herself we have been going to Starbucks. Just me and Finley hanging out at a Starbucks with no distractions. I don’t use my phone (except to snap an occasional photo of her being adorable). I shut everything out but her. Now with a 16 month old and then 5/6 month old you can imagine the conversation is pretty light. But the point is time. The point is letting her know I care enough to just communicate with her and listen to her.
We went on one of our Starbucks dates today! She really enjoys the new Bacon Egg Bites at Starbucks which makes this mama happy because she is kind of a picky eater lately. What did our Starbucks date look like? We ate breakfast and had drinks (her a water and me an Iced green tea). I talked to her about her breakfast. I told her it was hot so we had to blow on it, she said “hot hot” and helped me cool them down. I tried to teach her to say “fork” and “egg”. I reacted to her mannerisms and cues. We said hello and goodbye to lots of people who walked by. She danced in excitement with every bite of egg bite and so I danced with her! After she was done eating I brought out a book and we read about colors. She turned all the pages and had a meaningful conversation with me about the pictures that I couldn’t understand. We also did a little coloring and she told me all about it. Once we were done at Starbucks we headed to her library class that we go to on Monday mornings!
Some people might think it is strange to do something like going to Starbucks with your 16 month old, but I learned a lot today and so did Finley. She learned that her mommy is there for her. That her mommy listens to what she has to say. That her mommy teaches her. That her mommy says hello and is kind to people. That time is love. She also learned about her colors and table manners. What did I learn? I learned that my little girl really loves bacon egg bites so much they make her dance with joy. I learned that she has a lot to say. I learned that she is kind and sometimes shy. I learned that she loves to read. I learned that she loves to help by throwing out the trash when we are finished. I learned that time is love.
My plan is to continue this mommy daughter date time throughout my daughter’s life at home. The date locations may change as her interests change but I want to take the time to spend with her and just with her. Not distracted by other kids or moms or family members. I want to build the habit now, but my goal is for her to know that she is so valuable to me that I will give her my time. Time is love and I want her to know that I love her. Even if we have more children I want to do the same for each of them and continue to spend quality time with Finley on an individual level. Kids change so much and so fast and if we forget to look we will miss it. I purposefully want to plan my time so I don’t miss it!
So how can I do it and how can you join me? Here are the simple steps that I take to make it happen.
Prioritize: Look at all the things you have going on in your life and prioritize them by what is most important. On the top of your list should be your significant other and your kids! Things like cleaning the house or doing that favor for that person who constantly asks for your help or tries to steal your time can wait. Even work can wait!
Plan: Put it on the calendar. Make it a habit to do at least once a month! If you need to plan it out months in advance or you will put it on the back-burner then take the time and go through your calendar. Pick 3 or 4 months’ worth of date nights for your kids in advance. And remember prioritize it! Your date location is part of your plan too. This will depend on what your child likes to do and when they get older they can be a big part of this process by helping you choose what to do.
Prepare: Bring things to make your date a success. I go to Starbucks with a 16 month old so I come prepared. I bring coloring and books and some other fun toys we can play with together. Whatever your kid’s date is think ahead and bring what you might need. It will depend also on the age of your child.
Unplug: That’s right I said it. Unplug. Do not check your Facebook or your messages. Do not let your kids be on their tablets or phones either! Completely unplug a technology free zone!
Pay Attention: Watch your child and see how they react to certain things. Use some opportunities to teach and use others to learn.
Communicate: Children all communicate differently. Sometimes when you are sitting with a 16 month old at a Starbucks the only real word she says is “hot” and honestly sometimes the only real word a 12 or 16 year old says is “hot”. But if you make it a habit and you are real, you will get communication out of it and that is what counts. That’s what will last and what they will remember.
Dating your kids… it’s kind of a big deal, because time is love.