Do you ever hear the “experts” talk about how important it is for you to spend one-on-one time with your kids? Do you ever listen to their reasons, hear their ideas, and then find yourself desperately socking money away to pay for the children’s inevitably hefty therapy bill?
We all feel like we are falling short. We all wonder if we’re doing enough, wonder when we’ll realize we were doing it wrong, when we’ll see the fruit of our ignorance, hoping all the good will outweigh some of the stupid. This is true whether you have one kid or ten. We want them to know we love them, to know they’re safe, they’re treasured, and an integral and irreplaceable part of the family. But life is so busy! There is always so much going on, and there is never enough time, enough money, or―Lord have mercy―enough energy to do all the things we might think of doing to communicate to these little humans how important they are to us!
Several years ago, when struggling with this dilemma, this idea came to mind, and we have been doing it ever since. Let me be clear: I do not want to share this in some attempt to show you how together we Mullers are. I am hoping that maybe it will give you hope that you can do little things, that are actually sustainable and affordable, and that the whole one-on-one time doesn’t have to be so ridiculously unmanageable. I always think of the wonderful words of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta: Do small things with great love.
This is how it works: you choose one day of the week that works for your family, and on that day one child is celebrated. (We do this only with school-age children, and we take a break in the summer).
When it is your day you get to . . .
- Pick what’s for dinner. At dinner, everyone goes around the table and says at least one thing they love about the person we are honoring. (I love this part, and I am always amazed at the thoughtful things everyone comes up with).
- Pick a special dessert. This is easy enough and special because we don’t always have dessert, but they know they will get it on that day.
- You get to stay up 30 minutes later than everyone else and do something with Mom and Dad. The only stipulation here is that it can’t involve a screen of any kind―good ol’ fashioned facetime. For us it usually means a board game, but every family will accomplish this in their own special way.
And that’s it!
We have been doing this for almost seven years now, and my kids still love it and still really look forward to it. Some of the things I have loved over the years are that we get to celebrate as a family, plus it fosters appreciation for the individuality of each member of the family. Also, I have learned things about my kids I didn’t know. They end up communicating their needs to us simply by what they choose to do when they have us to themselves. It has also revealed a lot over the years about their love languages (quality time, physical touch, gift giving, acts of service, or words of affirmation). Lastly, it is sustainable. After all these years, I don’t feel burned out on it, and it has become this unique and enjoyable part of our family culture. It isn’t expensive, and it doesn’t spoil the child whose week it is. It just affirms for them that they are an integral and irreplaceable part of the family, and that we want to make time for them.
Obviously, you can take this idea and tweak it for your own family, but the most important thing is finding small ways to show them how big our love really is, without spending thousands of dollars or feeling inadequate while scrolling through Pinterest. YOU are really all they want!