This One Thing Done Consistently With Your Kids Will Matter Most
With five kids, and an abundance of vocational transition in our lives, there's been no shortage of chaos as me and my wife navigate the challenges of parenting. And as our five kids get older, I suspect the craziness of life is going to kick into high gear. On top of the natural craziness of life, there’s also the real challenges of parenting with excellence.
There’s an abundance of advice mixed with our own experiences to figure this out and end up with kids that want to spend time with us when they’re no longer required to do so. But, it’s not easy and requires an abundance of grace for ourselves and our children.
So, in the worst case scenario where I fail miserably in every area of parenting, what’s the one thing I could do to that would not only make up for my shortcomings but would rise above them in a powerful way?
Having a strongly anchored connection gives us the power to work through anything and everything. And, it also surfaces underlying issues that may not be appropriately resolved or brewing underneath. So, how does a parent prioritize and act on the choice for placing the parental relationship first?
To be more specific, one-on-one time.
In 2014, we moved from one city in Gwinnett County to another. As many car owners do, we regularly took our two vehicles to get the tires inspected and rotated every several months.
What I quickly realized was how fruitless it was to go by myself and wait for a few hours for the car service to be completed. So, I decided to bring one of our kids (we had three at the time, now five) with me, and we’d walk nearby to YourPie (a wonderful pizza place) and have lunch together. And this moment launched a new ritual. Each time I got the tires rotated, I brought a different child. We traveled, walked, and ate together
After doing this for a year merged with my desire to lean in further, I designated a weekly date with my kids. For a season, it was lunch on Saturday. When I learned the YourPie in Suwanee Georgia had kids eat free (now 99 cents), I shifted it to Monday nights (those dollars add up!).
With four kids in the midst of our chaotic life, they are each guaranteed at least a dozen meaningful one-one-one times per year in this system.
When our fifth child gets old enough, it’ll make the weekly schedule a little complicated, but we’ll find a way to make it work. The key is to adapt to the chaos while maintaining that weekly time. And, if something comes up, we simply resume the following week.
With this intentional parenting effort, I’m spending time with my kids sharing life, building relational equity, and having fun. While they’re all young (the oldest is 9) it’s this parental investment that will have powerful dividends when they’re going through the challenges of junior and high school, and beyond.
When you fast forward to when your kids are all grown up and moved out, you’ll have two potential scenarios. One where life quickly flew by and your kids slipped through your hand’s grasp, and another scenario where you placed a stake in the ground and made sure that time spent together happened consistently throughout. Which one you choose depends on how you act today.