I took my second child on a date this morning. It’s something we have been trying to implement to give one-on-one time with me, but have not made it a reality. This time was so significant for me as my sweet girl danced freely when a fun song came on at Starbucks this morning. She smiled and laughed and told me about swim team. It was so delightful to not think about the projects I had to execute today at work. It was a sweet hour together.
As I’ve reflected on our time this morning, I thought I’d share five encouragements for you if you’d like to start taking your kids out on dates.
1. Be present. So much of our days are spent thinking about the next thing or what we haven’t done yet or how poorly we did something. The best way to be present is to kill distractions. Kill distractions and give life to your child. Put your phone on silent and turn it face down on the table.
2. Look into his or her eyes. With the first tip taken care of, this ought to be super easy. But because we have implicitly learned not to look at people when they are talking (because we’re “multi-tasking”), we need to make a concerted effort to look at the person. This is cumulative. Don’t stare like you are trying to look at them in the eyes–though staring is better than looking away!
3. Ask questions. This would seem like a no-brainer, but too often parents are not asking questions. They are merely stating. They are saying “Yes” and “No”. This is not the time where you go over family rules and expectations. You are not pouring into the well, you are seeking to draw out from the deep well of your child’s heart. Feel free to default to “Why?” This easily translates into a rabbit hole of conversation and communicates that you care. Do not have an agenda, so that when you do have to have a talk you have already communicated your child is valuable by not having agendas before. It’s a liberating thing to know that dad is not only talking to me because he wants me to do something. Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Do you like friends who only talk to you when they want something from you?
4. Splurge on a treat. With our culture’s slow shift to healthier foods, we have often kept sweets out of the mouths of our kids. Don’t feel guilty on getting a doughnut for your child. Let this time be so out of the ordinary that they are sure to remember it. Tank them up on sugar!! In fact, it might do your soul well to get that triple chocolate cake doughnut too. Carrots and celery can be consumed later.
5. Share one thing you are thankful for in your child’s life. This can be an accomplishment, but even better is something about their character.