Growing up with “Special Time” with both of my parents are some of my fondest memories of my childhood. We would take turns each week and have a “Date Night” with our parents. For example, my Mom and me would do something together while my Brother and Dad would do something together. We called it “Date Night.” Then the next week we would switch. The third week we would have a family date night, and the final week would be just my parents date night.
Many of our date nights didn’t even consist of going out or spending money. A couple of memories were when my Brother and Dad built a fort in the house and when my Mom and I baked cookies. But the fort and the cookies were our ideas that my parents enthusiastically agreed to—another reason why it felt special.
I have continued this tradition with my family and my boys, although we haven’t been as consistent as I’d like to be—especially now. My oldest son and I use to have our special time at least once a month when my youngest son was still in his crib. It was easy for us to put him to bed and then have our date night, even though we weren’t actually going out anywhere. Our date nights usually consisted of a game together, followed by a movie and popcorn in bed.
A key factor in having special time is making sure your child knows in advance that it’s their special time with you and getting them involved in planning that time. My husband and I made a mistake this week. We had special time with each of our boys, and although it was special to us, I don’t think either of the boys really noticed the time apart from their brother or even cared for that matter that they were with just one of us. If they did notice, it wasn’t as big of a deal as it could’ve been had they been more involved in the planning of the day.
We both learned that even a movie and popcorn in bed may not seem that special to us, but to call it our date night, and then to have all the planning and anticipation has made it more special for my son. When we would plan it ahead of time, he would ask me all week if tonight was Saturday “our date night?”
I’m going to start doing special time the way my family did when I was growing up. Plan it at the Family Meetings. Get a calendar. Pick the days and who they’re with, and then let them decide, where and what you’ll do. I can just imagine how special that will make them feel. I want them to have the special memories that I have.