Monday, October 17, 2011

Lunch Date

In a family with five kids, having quality one-on-one time with them can be challenging. I will admit that on a daily basis, they get a few moments of one-on-one, but not usually big chunks of time all to themselves. In order to guarantee a little more individual face time, Jared and I try to take them out on a lunch date one at a time. We are not consistent with it-- it seems to happen more in spurts-- but it is something that our kids really look forward to.

As long as it is reasonable, we let them choose the venue for their date. Sometimes a kid chooses to grab some fast food and go to the park together. The older boys like to choose a restaurant where they can get dessert or chips and salsa (or both). Bronwen prefers a cupcake date.

This Friday, it was Ian's turn for some one-on-one. He picked me (Jared usually gets these dates) and said he wanted to have lunch at Bel Air, our local grocery store. I was really in the mood for restaurant food, but we only had an hour before we needed to be home, and I reminded myself that this was HIS date, not mine, so off we went.

We perused their prepared lunches section. I chose a roast beef and fontina sandwich on a sourdough roll, Ian found a little lunchbox with a turkey sandwich, goldfish, applesauce, and a juice box. We also grabbed his favorite potato chips (gotta love Lay's), some shortbread cookies from the bakery, which we planned to share with the others when we returned, and a doughnut for him. Okay, so I never claimed that these dates were healthy.

We sat outside at a little bistro table and Ian talked my ear off. If you know Ian, that wouldn't surprise you one bit; but what surprised me is that he dropped the goofy act that he often uses to get attention. He wasn't babbling nonsense, he didn't use baby talk-- no signs of the silly personality he uses with the family (except when the camera came out). Instead, he talked about things that interested both of us. He told me all about school and his classroom (his favorite part is his teacher, he said), about new friends he has made, and about ways that he has gone out of his way to be kind to other kids in his class.

It was a delightful hour spent, and it reminded me how much we both needed some extended one-on-one time with each other. It also allowed me to peek at a side of my own son that I don't get to see often enough. I am so proud of the young man that he is becoming.

How do you meet the challenge of giving your kids one-on-one attention? Tell me I am not the only one who struggles with this!


Tamara @31dates said...

I love this! My mom does something similar with the grandkids, flying each of them down when they're around 10 for a special trip. They love it, get to spend time with her, and feel like big kids.
And a couple weeks ago one of my old news anchors told me he spent every Thursday morning taking each of his 4 boys to breakfast. Years later, after one of the boys moved out, he came home for a visit on a Wednesday night, and as he went to bed said, "Breakfast tomorrow, Dad?"
It was such a special time for each of them.
I'm so glad you got that time with him. And I love hearing that Ian is growing up a bit!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I am at a cool stage where different school schedules allow me to do this every week with each of my kids. I love it. You made me realize I need to blog about it.

The Good Life said...

When my mom was finishing nursing school, I was in kindergarten and I lived with my nana (my mom's mom) during the week so that she could study and do school. I would go home on the weekends and never once did I dislike my time with Nana. But to make up for the time lost with me, my mom would take me to lunch one on one. When I started elementary school and had lunch at school, she signed me out for my lunch hour every once in a while. Those were some of my favorite memories with my mom from my childhood. Being in a big family is fun and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I know from experience that your kids will cherish your one on one lunch dates their whole lives.

Kim said...

We try to get the kids out on a 'date' at least once a month. It usually includes a DQ cone and a park.;)

But the one-on-one time they talk about the most is their mom-and-me and me-and-dad trips. We have made such amazing memories we want to make this an annual event. Not sure how that will happen with 4, but even if we're camping in a tent in Nana's backyard I will make this happen. An overnight trip is like a super dose of love. My girls suddenly become the perfect angel I know is hiding inside. Both girls talk for months about their "special trip". Being able to zone in on their likes and dislikes, opinions, and random conversation is priceless.

Obviously a one hour luch date is priceless too and far more practical. But I love the memory a trip makes.

angelj44 said...

I loved this post! Gordon does dates more with our kids than me and I need to do them too. I was talking with Audrey today and telling her how I am going to take her to The Nutcracker this year and I got really excited thinking about it. I have a lot of one on one time with her on a daily basis but we don't always do fun big outings one on one which is important as a parent. Thanks for making me think about this.