Works for Me Wednesday: Kid Date

Ok, so this should be more precisely titled “Works for Us, Wednesday…”  But then I’d miss the whole linky bit, here, so I’m keeping it as is.  But, you get the point.  This little tip is something we’ve honed to a very worthy custom in our household: it’s the “Kid Date.”

The kid date is not, as you might wonder, when just the kids go out together and run wild, going out on the town and boozing it up or sneaking into movies.  No, no.  The kid date is when the kids get a turn for their own, SOLO, date, with their dad.  Sounds small, no big deal? Oh, no.  Not at all.  Especially when you have a family with many children, this is a really key thing to craft, if you can.  Heck, I’ll go out on a limb and say even if you have a standard size or even small size family, this is a good thing.  That time of undivided attention between the dad and kid?  Priceless.

The Kid Date is a standing Wednesday night gig in our house.  We protect it as much as possible.  Yes, it means a Dad Date, really.  The kids all get lots of time with me.  But their dad, he is a hard working guy and he is busy…all the time.  He’s around as much as he is able. But, his job stuff is, um, time consuming.  It just is.  So, a few years ago, we intentionally started carving out a protected night every week for Dad and one kid to go out, alone, to do whatever they thought sounded like a good idea.

This whole concept played off our standing date, Saturday night.  That’s right, Tom and I have a standing Saturday night date.  It’s all old fashioned, that standing mom/dad date, you betcha.  But, oh boy, it’s priceless and we protect it like gold.  Because it is.  But I digress.  We figured that our weekly date out was so important to our relationship and to staying connected that it would be great for each kid to get solo time w/ Dad too.  They get it with me; I have to make an intentional effort to find that time to check in (and some days/weeks I do that better than others), but with Dad, the time constraints are much tighter.  So, voila, the weekly kid date.

Now, the only way to do the kid date fairly is to make it a system.  We put it on the calendar and we rotate down the troops in age.  No randomness at all (because then there would be intertribal war, not good), though swapping due to homework deadlines is allowed (they work that out between themselves, mostly).  And, just this past month, little Gabey was finally considered old enough to be allowed to go on his first kid date! Oh happy day, er, night!  He was so excited!

It’s a little difficult some weeks to have the kid date, the weeks get eaten up with basketball practices or late meetings or tests…but we really try to make it happen.  And it does mean that Tom has sat through multiple excruciating memorable viewings of the latest kiddie flick (Fly me to the Moon, anyone? Anyone?)…but that’s just what a dad does for his kids.  It’s a tough duty but he’s the man for it.

And is it worth it? All those cheeseburgers, those cartoons, the crash of the bowling pins? Well, I’m not him, but I think he’d say, “You bet.”  Because in between the skittles and the  pasta, sometimes in the dark of the drive home…the kids talk.  They chatter or they open up for a heart to heart or they ask the hard questions.  Or sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes they’ve been known to fall asleep in the movie.  But almost every time, that kid comes home to about half the others already asleep.  They come up and check in with me and hug me.  And I ask them, “Did you have a good time?” And they give me an extra kiss or hug, and say, “Yeah.”  Then they go find their dad and hug him goodnight and say thanks for going out with me.  And then, he thanks them back for going out with him.  And that, that is where the gold is.  That connection.  Little bits, along the way.

Kid date.  Worth the time, the trouble, the juggling.  It’s a bag of skittles, all gold.

>Works for me Wednesday

>Having a great babysitter who is like part of the family! A rare bird, indeed!

Miss Sally O, is our gal Friday! She is part babysitter, part big sis, all around helper around here. She is the one who I can always call on to hang with the kids, and not worry about them at all. She is old enough to be responsible and capable and have a good sensible head on her shoulders; but young enough to be high energy (a must!) and fun to be with!

People say, “How do you manage all those kids, and homeschool and run the house?” and so on. Well, with a little help of course!! There is no way to effectively be mom, homeschool, take kids to doctor appointments, cook, and well, just keep all those balls in the air, FOR ME, than with a little help. {I know there are so many moms who do manage this and so well. I am in awe of them. And I know my shortcomings and my limits! And so my gratitude kicked in and my pride went out the window on this issue, ages ago!} This dear girl makes me a better mom. I can focus on who needs me and what needs me as it arises, and be a better juggler with her extra set of hands for a couple of hours.

Of course, I’m not stupid and I realize the toll it takes on a gal…so I always worry a bit about her leaving for greener, quieter pastures. She is good enough to answer, today, at her own blog. {And yes, I realize it’s not gonna last forever, or long, she’s gonna graduate college, get an exciting job, find a great guy, get married…the list goes on and makes me happy for her and sad for us, but we’ll enjoy it while it lasts!}She’s part of our family, she’s my right hand gal, she’s the biggest “sis,” she’s Sally O! And we are grateful for her here!

>Works for me, Wednesday: Buddy up!

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Ok, we are on the road again.
Well, in the air again.

And while in years past, this flight has made me want to commit hari kari, I think that it might be just a hop and skip today. Meaning, compared to 30+ hours of travel, with flight legs of 17+ hours, a mere 4.5 hour flight is a walk in the park! I laugh at a mere 4-5 hours…I hope I hope!

However, in the spirit of it “Works for Me Wednesday”, I am posting one of our more successful travel tips for the summer season: Buddy up!

I know, this is Kindergarten teacher 101. But it’s easy to forget as you are slogging through the airports, especially with many kidletts in tow. But long ago we learned: get the bigs to be buddies to the littles. And I’m not talking about suddenly having them be actual “best buddies” and getting along with no more squabbles or pettiness (if I had found that secret, I’d be rich, rich I tell you!).

What I’m talking about is assigned duty, like it or not. Each small one has a big one to help them and keep track of them, in every shape and form. From snacks to potty, to general assistance and cheering up and distracting. That leaves me for the littles or most needy one and able to swap as necessary. It also keeps me from turning into a scary Ursula Octopus witch mom. Cartoon character: Disney, of course.
Me, on a bad day.

Last year I got off the plane, beelined to the first airport bar, banged on it and demanded a lemon drop martini, double. Ok, kidding, but a gal can dream. And I did, yes it was that bad. I’ll spare you the recounting, just trust me.

So, I will let you know how well we succeed. Our numbers have grown. Gabriel is a touch needy, he got a few shots on Monday. The others are just amped, which means running around like maniacs. I will be hauling er, escorting, seven kids by myself (but with BUDDIES!). Prof is staying home for a bit to work, he will come and go on this vacation/family visit. Yes, we have someone at the house, so that helps with the to do list. So, we are packing and zooming around, California dreaming. I’ll do my best to post and check emails.

And I am praying, without ceasing, for all the Gladney families on hold, I promise! If anyone has a mind to throw a few our way for safe peaceful travel, we’ll take it!

Top two photos: first is successful buddy effort, looks good eh? Second is another, in Albuquerque airport, looks like it’s working don’t ya think? Hmmm. You can see how good we are at this, but hey, we keep trying!