Finding Peace in Parenthood
nurturing The relationships with our children
I find parenting three children, relativity close in age, incredibly challenging! As an only child, I often feel like I am inventing the wheel and constantly trying to fine tune the art of parenthood. In the day to day, I get caught up in what I'm hoping is normal sibling rivalry conflict and find it hard to nurture individual relationships with each of the kids. Shortly after we wrote our family vision statement we developed a monthly routine to help strengthen the connections we have with each of our children and what they have affectionately named, 'SPECIAL TIME'!
Every month the kids choose what they want to do for their 'special time'. Our goal is each child gets one solo date with each parent. So two dates, per child, per month. And only one in busy months. To ensure it actually happens we make sure it get it on the calendar (the month before) and the we all have it to look forward to!
It's usually a pretty low-key outing like ice-cream, dinner, or a bike ride. Every so often, it's more elaborate like this overnight spa trip to Lefay Spa Resort, a Mets baseball game for Ben, or a Frozen Sing-a-Long with Adeline. And then once a year it is something of the parent's choosing... Audrey planted grape vines with Josh at an Italian winery and she went with me to a private photography workshop. We believe it's important for the children to witness each of us cultivating our interests and life-long learning pursuits.
After reading, The Five Love Languages of Children, it was easy to identify Audrey's as 'Quality Time'. This sacred time is soul-filling on so many levels. Without the demands of competing attention of other family members, we can explore the wonderful freedom of uninterrupted time together. Our kids are always so different when alone with us - they truly open up and share their deeper thoughts, feelings and reflections. And I always find that the time allows me to be a stronger and more compassionate parent.
In all honestly, like with all things parenting, these special dates sometimes fail miserably. Cue the time I was out on a special sushi dinner with our oldest daughter and as soon as the food arrived her sensory processing issues kicked in and she became tired, overwhelmed and naseaus and needed to leave immediately. Sometimes all the best of intentions and prior planning doesn't pay off. Our youngest still reminds us she would have preferred ice-cream over the the surprise Frozen-Sign-A-Long movie. No joke, sometimes an impromptu game at home with one of the kids feels just as beneficial for both of us!