We are about to have our 5th child and with our growing family comes more of a necessity for spending quality alone time with each of our kids. The logistics of this also get more and more complicated but that should not stop us from trying and growing in our ability to single out our children to show them that we love them, want to hear from them, and want to get to know them as individuals in the family. In this episode, we share some practical ways to get some alone time with each of your kids and why it is so important to cultivate that experience on a regular basis.
Join our Free Parenting prayer challenge today and build a habit of praying for your children daily.
Thank you for the gift of family. Thank you for the blessing of children. May we be people who are willing to make our children feel special, and to feel seen and heard. Help us to spend quality time with them, building fond memories and moments that build our trust with them. Help us to carve out time to show our kids that we desire to be close to them and want to dialogue with them. We pray we would be fun and intentional parents with the purpose of teaching our kids your ways. May our children have a heart to build a family of their own because they love our example and appreciate all they experience. May your love be woven into our legacy and may your light shine in our relationship with our children.
In Jesus’ name, amen!
– [Aaron] Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God.
– [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.
– [Aaron] And today we’re gonna share some fun ways to spend quality time with your children.
– [Aaron] Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after.
– [Jennifer] I’m Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife.
– [Aaron] And I’m Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution.
– [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade.
– [Aaron] And so far we have four young children.
– [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media.
– [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day.
– [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one full of life,
– And power.
– [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God.
– [Jennifer] Together.
– [Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey, as we chase boldly after God’s will for our life together.
– [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. Okay, Aaron, this is just, I am so excited about this episode. I don’t know why.
– You’re always excited for all the episodes, I like it!
– [Jennifer] No, this is different. This is like I’m giddy over this because we have young kids and the whole episode is about spending time with our kids, things that we’ve been learning, as–
– [Aaron] We should let the cat out of the bag. You actually really like our kids.
– I do, I’m biased.
– So, that’s why you get so excited about this.
– Okay, fine. I was gonna say we’re gonna share things we’ve been learning as new parents. Are we still new parents?
– [Aaron] Someone recently called us new parents. They said, “I would consider you still new parents.” And I’m like, we have a fifth kid on the way, how are we still new parents?
– I know, I think it’s ’cause they are all just still little–
– [Aaron] They’re all young, yeah.
– [Jennifer] Yeah, we’re in a lot of just little kid time. And so even though this episode is about spending one on one time with your kids, really it can go for any age kid. But before we jump into that, why don’t you give us a little update on something you shared a couple weeks ago on studying your kids? And if you guys don’t know what I’m talking about, you gotta go hear that episode.
– [Aaron] So I got some journals and I purposed to take some time to write in those journals things that I’m observing from my children so that I can kind of learn them, think about my children on a level when they’re not around and say, “What are the things that I’ve seen in my kids, “ways they’re being, things they’ve said?”
– [Jennifer] So he got one journal for each kid, and he’s not writing to them, per se, he’s just writing about them to help him.
– [Aaron] Yeah, I just write stuff I’m observing as if I’m like, on a safari, like “I saw Elliot today do this.” I will say this I wrote about Wyatt in the wrong book.
– [Jennifer] I know.
– [Aaron] I had to rewrite the whole thing, which is actually kinda good ’cause I wrote it better, but.
– [Jennifer] What are some things you’re learning about our kids?
– [Aaron] Yeah, well, just some cool things. It’s cool writing it down, and I’ve only been doing it like once a month right now. So it’s not like every day I’m writing something about them, but it’s cool ’cause I write down emotional things about them, like when I see how they respond emotionally to things.
– [Jennifer] Okay.
– [Aaron] I also write down things that I see them getting good at–
– Or interested in.
– Or interested in, things they say, ’cause every once in a while, they say something really remarkable, and I’ll just try and remember those things and I write it down, I’m like, “We asked this question and he answered this way.” And so just, it’s really cool, I’ve done it twice now and I’m gonna continue doing it, you’ve encouraged me and said, “Hey remember you said you were gonna?” I’m like, “Oh, yeah.” So I think over time, it’ll become more of a habit, but it’s been a fun thing to to write down and I would encourage parents to figure out ways that they can learn their children.
– [Jennifer] Do you feel like it’s requiring you to pay attention more? So like, are you trying to notice things?
– [Aaron] I am, I am.
– [Jennifer] Your eyes are on them more.
– [Aaron] Yeah, and I’m not just, “Oh, yeah, they’re in the background, doing their thing.” I’m trying to watch them intentionally like, how do they respond to that thing? How are they gonna answer this question? How are they…? So yes, I would say it’s making me more intentional.
– [Jennifer] I just think that’s so cool. So something that I wanted to share before we get started is that I had a friend recently asked me at church, she just said, “Hey, have you taken Wyatt out on a date, “like just you and him?” Okay, Wyatt’s our, he just turned three, and I was shocked. I was like, “No, I haven’t, thank you.” Because they know that we do this. They know that we like to take the kids out for one-on-one time, and we’ve been doing it with the older kids, Elliot and Olive, but I don’t know why I just didn’t think about taking Wyatt, and he is getting to that age where he would probably love it. And so it kinda woke me up and it was a good reminder that God knows that we have this desire to spend one on one time with our kids, And He used a friend of mine to ask me about it.
– To remind you.
– To remind me.
– [Aaron] It’s like a gentle nudge.
– [Jennifer] It was! It was really cool, so thank you friend.
– [Aaron] Yeah, and you know what, just a little bit of honesty, especially as our family grows, ’cause we had Elliot and it was our first time being parents and so we had all this energy on every milestone, on everything with him and then we had Olive and that dwindles a little bit, all that attention. And then now we have Wyatt and now Trude, and now we have Edith on the way, and I just, sometimes it can be easy to forget certain children in the place they’re at, forget what we did with our older children at that place.
– [Jennifer] Yeah, or that they’re all individuals, because we see ’em as a pack, we’re always going places together, and so being able to separate them and say, “You are unique, and you are special, “and you are important to us.”
– [Aaron] So before we move on to the topic, we just wanna tell you about a new free resource. One of our ways we minister through this ministry is by creating free resources and paid resources. We have our books, of course, but we also love to create these free resources to encourage you in your prayer life and your marriage and your parenting. And the new one we have, I don’t know if you’ve taken the Marriage Prayer Challenge yet, but now we’ve created a Parenting Prayer Challenge where you can sign up to pray for your son or daughter or both and we’ll send you a prayer prompt every day for 31 days, to encourage you in your prayer life over your kids. It’s pretty awesome, and all you gotta do is go to parentingprayerchallenge.com and sign up completely free today. Go do that today.
– [Jennifer] Okay, so the topic for today is, you know, spending one on one time with your kids, spending quality time with your kids, some even call it dating your kids, like having date night with your kids. And I’m not sure exactly where this came from, but we have two couples in our life that have been instrumental in our faith and in our parenting that we wanted to share with you guys ’cause I’m sure the idea came from one of two of these places.
– Or both.
– Or both. Matt and Lisa Jacobson from Faithful Life podcast, and Isaac and Angie Tolpin from Courageous Parenting podcast. Again, both of them have been instrumental in both of our faith and our parenting, and they’re so encouraging you guys, so if you’re not already following their podcasts, you need to go check them out right now.
– [Aaron] Yeah, and we started dating our kids after Olive was born, Elliot was getting older, he was almost three and we’ve tried to continue it since. There’s seasons that we totally forget to do it, but we try and make it built into a regular routine. So just one example right now Olive’s in dance and so I take her to dance, and I sometimes, maybe every other week, I’ll go early, and we’ll go have dinner together before she goes to dance. And so it’s just me and her, and that’s actually been a lot of fun. We get to go eat together and then she goes and dances off all the food that she ate.
– [Jennifer] Yeah, not all of the the opportunities that we take with our kids happen regularly because well we’re going into having five now, our oldest being seven.
– It gets a little harder.
– [Jennifer] Yeah, and it just gets hard. So we try and take advantage of every opportunity that we have, but as a large family, we also like to do things together. So I would say our goal is usually to take one kid out a month, and so either you will take them or I will take them.
– Or you take two and I take two. So we kinda just mix it up and we play with it.
– [Aaron] A good tip to make it more regular, and we tried this in the beginning was monthly birthdays. So Elliot’s birthday’s on the seventh, and so remember we tried doing on the seventh of each month would be like that date day for Elliot. We haven’t been consistent with that, but someone might be able to take that and run with that idea.
– [Jennifer] Yeah, the thing that I remember from that when we tried it was that the kids began to expect it.
– Yeah they did.
– Which was cool, because we want them to know that we wanna spend time with them.
– [Aaron] It’s my birthdate day coming up!
– [Jennifer] But we also like the spontaneous, “Hey, I’m going to take you on a date right now.” So, we’ll leave that one up to you to decide, but we thought it’d be fun to share with you some standout moments that we’ve had with our kids on these date days. Do you wanna start Aaron?
– [Aaron] Yeah, so speaking about Olive, I would take her to dinner, and we’d go to one of our favorite restaurants and it’s right there, right where she goes to dance. And I’ll leave early and we’ll spend about an hour eating together and just talking, sometimes she’s coloring, sometimes she’ll bring a book that she loves I’ll read it to her, but a couple of cool things about this is it really stands out to other people. They start seeing me with my daughter and they’re like, “Wow, this Dad’s with their daughter” or just, it’s a really intimate thing. So it’s an example to others, which has been really cool. It also gives you enough time to just ask them questions and be like, “Who are you?” This little girl who’s growing and turning into a her own person with her own ideas and with her own dreams and which is just a really powerful thing. A couple months ago, there was a really funny thing that I found out about Olive from dating her. So we go to this restaurant and I order something I’ve never ordered before, and it’s this shrimp pasta dish. It’s amazing, I loved it. It’s like one of my new favorite things. And I get it and I’m like, “Oh, this is so good. “Oh my gosh, this is so amazing.” And Olive leans over and she’s like, “What’s that smell?” And I’m like what?
– She’s really straightforward and blunt.
– She’s like, “Dad, that smells disgusting.” And I’m like, “What are you talking about?” And she literally, she was like “I can’t eat Dad, “this is ruining everything and I don’t like that smell.” I find out she doesn’t like seafood smell, ’cause it smelled a little like shrimp and she was like, “It’s disgusting!” So every time I order she’s like, “Dad, don’t order that, “I can’t eat with you!”
– [Jennifer] Actually, I remember her coming home that night and so you went to dinner first and then dance. So you guys were gone for a couple of hours. And she came home and I was like, “Oh, how was it?” And she goes, “Mom, Dad ordered this food “that I did not like.”
– [Aaron] “It was disgusting.” And so I found out that Olive doesn’t like the smell of seafood. So I have to get that pasta when I’m out around Olive now.
– [Jennifer] That’s funny. Something that stood out to me was, I remember a while ago, just having a hard day and needing a Mommy break. You know, all the Moms right now are like, “Yep, I feel ya.” And so I asked Aaron if he could come in and watch the kids while I went and grabbed some lunch by myself. And I was really looking forward to it ’cause you had said yes.
– Oh I remember this day, okay
– [Jennifer] You understood and said yes and I was getting ready to go, and it was a day that I was actually having a really hard time with Olive. And so I don’t know why all these stories revolve around her but–
– She’s special.
– [Jennifer] She’s special.
– [Aaron] She’s our only little girl right now.
– [Jennifer] She was just having a very emotional day, which was new for her in her development. She wasn’t like this before, and it was rubbing me the wrong way. And so I was getting ready and you looked down the hallway and you kind of signaled to me like–
– I said it quietly–
– Do you wanna take her?
– [Aaron] You learn really quick not to say things out loud. ’cause then it’s like, it ruins everything.
– [Jennifer] And I was actually really frustrated that you even acknowledged that–
– Or even asked you.
– Or even asked me because I just wanted to get out of there. And I’m just being honest, and I just felt my in gut like, yes, that’s the right thing to do and so I–
– [Aaron] But with your body language it was like no.
– [Jennifer] So I said, “Olive come here,” and she came running down the hall. She goes, “Where you going?” ’cause I had my shoes on. I said, “I’m going to lunch, do you wanna go with me?” And she lit up like just–
– You made her day.
– I did. And so we went to lunch and I sat down and I tried asking her some questions and getting to know like what’s going on, I acknowledged that she had been emotional and she acknowledged that she had been emotional. And it was a really encouraging time for our relationship. It was almost like God showed me where it’s gonna be when she’s 16.
– [Aaron] I know, I love those glimpses! I’m so excited for that.
– So cool. And just being able to get her away from all the boys in the family, and just see her for who she was and what she was going through, it was like an eye opener for me. So that’s something that really stood out to me and showed me like my little girl is growing up and I need to be there for her and what does that look like? We also took a little devotional with us and it was a book that you actually started going through with her on your guy’s dates. And so I took it with and read a page out of it and we talked about it and she was just, she came back just different from that opportunity.
– [Aaron] Well it totally encourages her and makes her feel so loved. And yeah, she had a totally different attitude the rest of the day from that time with you. And that that’s kind of how is with all of our kids. I love when I go out with Elliot. Again, I take him to piano, and then I’ll take him to a lunch. So we what we do is we couple events.
– [Jennifer] Things that you already have responsibility to.
– [Aaron] Yeah so, I’m like, “Oh if I just leave a little early, “then I can go actually have a date with my son.” He looks forward to it and we go and we’ll color together, we’ll talk, I purpose to not have my phone out at all.
– [Jennifer] That’s good.
– [Aaron] I had to check it once in a while for a text message or you might call me or something, but I try and put it away so he knows that I’m intentionally trying to be with him. And then like, I just try and be, it’s actually honestly, it’s hard sometimes ’cause I’m like, how do I engage with my son? I’m trying to come up with creative questions, I’m trying to dig deeper than just what we always hear out of his mouth. I’m like, you know, what about this? What do you wanna, you know?
– [Jennifer] But you can’t expect it because when they’re so young, they might not and that’s okay.
– [Aaron] Yeah, but I have to try. And so it’s cool. The last time I went on a date with him, so he’s been loving video games. He’s playing Zelda, like that little, it’s like a remake of the original Zelda, it’s pretty awesome, actually. And he just talks about it a lot and I’m like, “Okay, Elliot, you know that someone came up “with this game, right?” And he’s like, “What do you mean?” And I’m like, “Well, this whole story, “everything you love about this game, someone–“
– Someone designed it.
– “Created it.”
– [Jennifer] Someone made it up, yeah.
– [Aaron] It came up from there, like all the names of the characters and all the places and he was like, “What really?” And I was like, “And you could too.” And I actually started talking to him, I was like, “Why don’t you describe a game?” And we literally spent the hour and he came up with his own game about a little boy with a backpack and his backpack has all of his powers and toys and we came up with what the adventure was gonna be about and he had to save the ancient. And it gave an opportunity where I was able to coax out of him more creativity and he was actually able to see beyond this thing that he loved to something to something that he could create like something he loves.
– [Jennifer] That’s so cool ’cause you took something that he was interested in and you saw it and you said, “Now how can I use this “to benefit our relationship?”
– [Aaron] And it was fun because it made the conversation unique, it actually drew something out of him, I would imagine, made him feel more powerful like, “Wow, I could do that?” like, “I could make that thing? “I didn’t even know that was impossible.” I’m like, “Well, yeah, someone made it.” So it was a lot of fun and I actually got to hear his creativity and I would ask him questions like, “Well, what does that character do? “Where did he come from?” And now he’s like, creating these back stories. And so I told him, I was like, “You should do that “as a school project this year, come up with a game.” So that was that was a really powerful, fun experience, too.
– [Jennifer] That’s awesome. Another standout memory that I have is with Elliot, I’m not trying to copy you on these stories.
– It’s okay if you are.
– I know. But this actually happened when we were on vacation. I was pregnant with Wyatt and so Elliott was probably like three, almost four years old and we had gotten the opportunity to go to Maui, and it was really fun. And I remember waking up really early one morning and I shook you and I was like, “Hey, can I take Elliot out?” And you were like, “Yeah,” but he was sleeping, but it was so cool. I woke him up and we snuck out without Olive waking up and so you and Olive stayed resting.
– [Aaron] I slept for another two hours I think.
– [Jennifer] Well it was probably like 5:45 in the morning and I’m like trying to get dressed in the dark. And we went downstairs ’cause we were staying at this resort with access to the beach, and we went, their coffee shop opened at 6 and so we went and got a bagel and walked all the way out to the beach. And I just sat there and we ate a bagel and then he played in the sand for like 30 minutes, 40 minutes, and we walked back up and got to have breakfast again with you guys. And it’s such a standout memory for me because I loved having that one on one time with him. I love that we got to take a special unique opportunity away from everyone else just to be together. We got something that we both love and shared it, a bagel. And I have this memory of sitting on the beach, even though that whole vacation was pretty memorable, that’s what stands out to me because I sat on the beach with just my son and I got to watch how he plays and I got to observe him and engage with him and love on him and it was just, I don’t know, one of the things we’ll talk about in just a minute is just the benefits of having that one on one time with your kid and I would say building memories like that where they stick with you–
– [Aaron] And they’ll stick with them too.
– [Jennifer] Well with them, but it makes you wanna recreate ’em. Oh, it’s so powerful for the relationship, for the friendship, for the engaging aspect of what this is.
– [Aaron] You know, in this episode, I would say our main goal in sharing these things with you is in parenting and in just marriage and in life and in church and all these things, there’s so many things drawing our energies and attentions and every one in a while we just need to be reminded that we need to be taking opportunities to slow down and to get off the beaten path with our kids. To get to know them, to let them know that we are there for them, we like them. Like, it’s one thing to love your kids, it’s another thing to like your kids. And our kids need to know that we like them. Like I wanna spend time with you, I wanna be near you, I wanna know who you are and how you think. So that’s our encouragement. What are some benefits, if those that are listening now start trying to implement some way that they should be taking these date days, date nights, alone time with their kids?
– [Jennifer] Well, I the first thing that comes to my mind, and it just happens when you have multiple people in the family, when you step away with just one is you get uninterrupted time with them to really hear them and what they’re going through.
– Which is nice.
– And to chat. It really is nice because anyone with multiple people in a family, you sit down at the dinner table and everyone’s talking over each other. And we’re working on that, our kids are pretty young so they’re still learning that but it’s all the time in the car, while they’re playing, it’s constant and so being able to pull away from the crowd and saying, “Hey, I see you and I hear you, “and I wanna hear more.” It’s powerful.
– [Aaron] And then that goes into the other part of this, which is you get, you get to be un-distracted. But now this also takes, you should be intentional on this. Like I said, I try to not have my phone out because I don’t wanna just be, and sadly, we see this sometimes, you see a father with their kid, and they’re just, that Dad’s on their phone and I don’t wanna be that guy and I’ve done that before. Make sure that we’re like, the intention is to be with your child.
– [Jennifer] So it kind of gets you out of your elements to where you’re purposeful and you’re thinking ahead, you’re thinking through all the steps while you’re on this date, because your purpose is for them.
– [Aaron] Yeah, and you know what our children see it. They feel when we’re with them or not. Like, “Oh, I’m just here. “Dad’s just here, but he’s not here.” Or “Mom’s just here and she’s not here.” So intentionally putting it away, which totally shows them respect and honor and says, “I wanna know you, I’m here for you.”
– [Jennifer] It lets them know that there’s, I kinda mentioned this earlier, but it lets them know that they’re special, that they’re an individual from the family pack.
– [Aaron] They’re not just one cog in the whole piece, that they’re a person.
– Yeah, yeah. We also get to know them. You know what, like you mentioned studying your kids earlier and I feel like having that one on one time, you really get to know them, where they’re at, what they’re going through. Something that I mentioned Isaac and Angie Tolpin earlier from Courageous Parenting, and Isaac, he just has this really great tool that he uses with his family that he shared with us, and he really is good at this, like naturally. But he talks about going three questions deep and this is a great tool to use for little kids because sometimes you ask them a question and either they don’t fully understand, or they don’t know how to answer it and so by asking the same question three different ways you get to pull from their heart. And so maybe you guys can just tuck that away or go look up Courageous Parenting and check that out but he talks about going three questions deep. But Aaron, why don’t you give them some examples of what kind of questions they can ask on these dates with their kids?
– [Aaron] And this isn’t the definitive list, of course.
– [Jennifer] No, no, but just some things that we go through.
– [Aaron] Yeah, and the idea is, and it’s a challenge, is I wanna be deeper than just like, “Hey, how are you? “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” Which I love those questions, but we wanna be able to go deeper so, “What do you know about God?” Which is a great question for discipleship, because then you get to find out like, where they’re at in understanding God.
– [Jennifer] They may say some off the wall thing that you might have to correct.
– [Aaron] Yeah, or they’ll blow your mind away and you’ll be like, “Wow, I didn’t even, “I’ve never thought of that about God.”
– [Jennifer] Or how do you know that ’cause I didn’t teach you that?
– [Aaron] Yeah. Another question is “What has God been teaching you?” Which actually makes them think like, “Wait, God teaches me things?” And then they can think like, “Oh, well, maybe to be more patient with my sister.” Something like that. “What have you been interested in lately?” And you might already know the answer–
– [Jennifer] Well I was gonna say their interests can change so you might know the answer, but it could also surprise you.
– [Aaron] Yeah, ’cause like forever Elliot loved Iron Man, and now it’s Spiderman, but now it’s not even Spiderman, it’s Zelda.
– [Aaron] “How are your relationships with your siblings?”
– [Jennifer] This is a really good one for kids, that they are recognizing that their relationships with their siblings are important, and so they’ll most likely be honest with you about how they are. Go three questions deep though.
– [Aaron] Yeah. A good question is, “What things have you been frustrating, “or have been frustrating you lately?” Ask them like, “Hey, have there been things “that have been bothering you? “Are you frustrated with something “or do you feel sad about something?”
– [Jennifer] Something that I’ve been used to asking when I have one on one time with the kids, like Elliot and I just ran an errand recently, and he jumped in the car, and we were headed over to my sister in law’s house and I just asked him, “Hey, bud, how’s your heart? “What’s going on? “What are you thinking about lately?” So just things like that are really good. And then the last one Aaron.
– [Aaron] This is a hard question to ask your kids. You know, sometimes they won’t even know how to answer this but if you wanna honestly know the answer, and you honestly ask it, it’s “How have I been doing as your Mom? “How have I been doing as your Dad? “Is there areas I can grow in? “Is there things that I do that bother you, frustrate you?” Now it doesn’t mean that their answer is always gonna be applicable or right but it’s a way of honestly saying, “I care how my children view me.” Not that I just–
– Maybe they’ll be, maybe they’ll be really affirming and they’ll encourage you.
– [Aaron] Well and younger, they’re all, “You’re the best Dad ever!” And you get you’re probably not or you don’t feel that way but as they grow up, and they know that you care, they know that you want to know.
– [Jennifer] And if we see this as a longevity thing, like an investment, then each time that we’re with them, and we’re asking these kinds of questions, we’re asking this specific question–
– [Aaron] They might start thinking of better answers.
– [Jennifer] Well, not just that but in their own maturity and development they will have more deeper, right? But you’ve prepped them over the years on answering.
– [Aaron] Well and what it’s also doing is building in them a trust of–
– You can tell me.
– Mom and Dad wanna know, and I can tell them.
– Yeah you can trust me.
– They wanna know things and I want to tell them things and I wanna share with them. So it’s this open line of communication and it’s not just not having deep, if we as parents early on think “Oh I’m not, “I can’t have deep conversations with my kids.” Then when they’re older, it’s not gonna just start out of nowhere.
– So we gotta start now, even if the conversation doesn’t go deep, at least you’re teaching your children like, “Hey, let’s communicate, I want to hear from you.”
– That’s good.
– You know?
– [Jennifer] So we were talking about the benefits of why we do this, why we have one on one time with the kids and we took a little side tangent to talk about questions that we asked them on these dates but let’s finish up with this list of just some of the benefits.
– [Aaron] And one of them is you get to know them. Remember we talked about we wanna like our kids. You get to know your kids.
– [Jennifer] You get an opportunity to speak into their life.
– Yeah. Going back to the whole continuing that open line of communication, you want your children to come to you for advice, you want your children to talk to you. So speaking into their life–
– [Jennifer] Here’s two of ’em, I’m gonna share fun for both of you. Just whatever you’re gonna go do, and it doesn’t mean you have to spend money, I mean–
– [Aaron] I’ll say this though, fun is a heart position and it’s a posture you have to take. You have to decide in your heart this is going to be a fun thing not a inconvenient thing. Because I have hard time with that. I can be like, “Okay, this is inconvenient, “I have other things I want to be focusing on.” But if we say, “Nope, this is gonna be a fun thing. ” I wanna spend time with my kid.”
– [Jennifer] Well and you can look at fun and say, “What’s something that I think would be fun “that I wanna invite my child into?” Or you can look at it from their perspective and say, “What would be fun for them?” And the other one I want to share, I already touched on it earlier, but it’s building those memories and allowing your children to build those memories of having fun and doing something with just Mom or just Dad.
– [Aaron] Another one, it’s just logistically, especially when your family starts growing, taking one or two of the children out of the home helps the other parent also, it gives the dynamic of reprieve, it allows for other things to take place, it allows your wife or your husband to have time to themselves or with the other kids. So there’s just a strategic, logistical thing that happens with taking one of the kids. And then also, your kids begin to look forward to it.
– Yeah, even if it’s spontaneous, they still know “Mom and Dad love me and they like me–“
– “This is something that happens, “I’m gonna get time alone.” And you know, it also opens that opportunity that our kids come to us and they say, “Can I go on a date with you?” They actually invite us on dates, they long for those times alone with us.
– [Jennifer] Yeah. I’m gonna run through a couple benefits just for the parents’ sake, investing into this relationship long-term. So casting that vision of, kinda like when I said when I was sitting at the table with Olive, it felt like how it would be sitting with her at the coffee shop at 16.
– [Aaron] Which is exactly what you’re doing. That’s a pattern you’re building of, if you want to be sitting when your child’s 16, 17, 18, 20 and you have that deep close relationship, it doesn’t start then.
– It starts right now.
– So. We admit, we don’t have a 16 year old, but I would assume that if we haven’t been putting in the time and investing in that way, when they’re 16, are they gonna want to spend that quality time with us?
– Well, I hope so.
– Well, yeah, but I think the investment comes way earlier on and I think we need to be mindful of that.
– [Aaron] Well, and I’ll throw a shout out, Isaac and Angie Tolpin from Courageous Parenting, they do have older children and this is what they say. They say, “Hey, we started early investing in this “’cause we wanted our children to want to hear from us, “want to spend time with us.” And they do. So we have examples in our life that we get to look at and say, “Well, let’s just start now “and let’s follow that example.”
– [Jennifer] Another benefit is Aaron you mentioned that that whole heart posture of kids being inconvenient, like being an inconvenience, and so when you think about one on one time with your kids, going to spend that quality time with them reinforces that they’re important and special to your heart, so that it doesn’t feel like a burden, the day in and day out of things that you’re doing with them, because even you start to look forward to spending that quality time with them and then you get to have fun. Like when I think about taking my kid for a treat, sometimes it’s even spontaneous to us in that, “Hey, there’s this window of opportunity “and I wanna go share it with them.” I like a treat, I like coffee, I like hot chocolate, I like a good conversation and so it’s a benefit to us in that way. And then the last one, which Aaron you touched on, but it alleviates the other parent who’s with the other kids for a brief time. So if I take one or even two of my kids, and I go on a date with them and you’re at home with the other ones, it changes the atmosphere a little bit and I think it’s nicer and easier.
– [Aaron] I’ll say this also, not just on the date side of things, we’ve kind of made a commitment to each other, it doesn’t happen every time but if any one of us are ever gonna go run an errand, we always take one or two.
– It’s an opportunity!
– It’s an opportunity for the children and it also is an opportunity for your spouse and it’s called this, it’s divide and conquer. It’s this idea of like–
– Except you enjoy it.
– [Aaron] Yeah, but you enjoy it. So it’s a pretty smart strategy for not always having the burden of all the children all the time on just your wife or just your husband. It’s this idea of like, we’re gonna work as a team so that this parenting thing doesn’t feel burdensome all the time.
– ‘Cause sometimes it does.
– [Jennifer] Okay you guys, we’ve shared a lot, but we also wanted to share some cool practical date ideas to spend time with your kids and these are just a handful, there are so many more, and especially when you think about different age categories, ’cause different kids will be interested in different things. And we also just wanna be clear that you do not have to spend extra money on these things. You can make it as simple as going for a walk around the block and heading to the park, playing catch with your son or daughter, or you can save up and go to a nice dinner with them. But we just wanna reiterate that you don’t, it doesn’t have to be a painful experience as far as finances or time.
– [Aaron] And our kids are, they’re super complicated but they’re also very simple.
– Yeah it’s time.
– They want presence and time. So like, I would imagine my son Elliot, if I just took him to the top, we have a hill, a butte that we can go look up on top of at sunset or sunrise, he would just love that.
– And it’s free. We just take the time to do it.
– [Jennifer] So here’s the thing, don’t let anything keep you from excusing your way out of this. If you’re a parent, and you have a child or children, no matter what their age is, it’s important to spend quality time with them and have one on one time with them to have those conversations and share with them your heart and hear their hearts and really just invest the time into that relationship and I think this is a good word and warning to all of us as parents, especially looking at the longevity of our relationships with our kids and where we want to be with them when they’re older.
– Yeah. And just a note, imagine or realize what you as an individual need and desire. Don’t you want your spouse to spend quality time with you, alone time to get to know you, to look in your eyes and say, “Who are you? “What are you doing?” Jennifer we just had to talk about this. You know like, “Hey, I want you to get to know me, “I want you to ask me deep questions.”
– [Jennifer] Yeah. Even if you were to think about along those same lines there and if you were to think right now everyone listening about you as a child and what you desired most–
– [Aaron] I think about these things.
– [Jennifer] Think about that. Spend some time today and really think about what did you desire most from your mom? What did you desire most from your dad? And if you have children, try and implement those things. Try and be that way.
– [Aaron] I don’t know if I’m right in this, but I would imagine the things that we wished we had the most, the things that we wish that we got from our parents are probably the things that we have the hardest time giving to our kids. I would imagine that’s true ’cause we’ve seen in our own lives, like me, patience. That’s something that my mom and dad struggled with with me at times, I’m not very easy person be patient with. And so patience has been something I’ve had to work really hard to give my kids. And so if you look at your relationship with your parents, I would imagine the thing that you longed for the most and probably didn’t get is the thing that you might have the hardest time giving. But don’t let that be the reason. Like say, “Okay, you know what, God help me in this. “I wanna give this to my kids. “I wanna give them that attention, that affection, “that patience, that gentleness that I didn’t receive.”
– [Jennifer] And even without thinking about it, every person in the world, every human desires what? To be known and loved. So, bottom line, this is an opportunity for us to get to know our children, to let them know we know them that we’re paying attention, and to give them that quality time where we’re conversing with them about things and loving on them.
– [Aaron] Okay, let’s give some ideas. These are practical ideas for, and you’ll have to look at this and figure out the age range, where your kid is at age-wise and say, “Oh, this would be appropriate or this would be applicable.”
– [Jennifer] And then talk to each other about scheduling and timing and like, is this something we can put on the calendar? What would be best?
– [Aaron] And how does it work? Like practically?
– And we would encourage–
– Is it once a month? Is it every week?
– We would encourage you guys to take time doing it ’cause even Mom who’s at home with the kids all day, she still needs that one on one time. So finding ways to give Mom that opportunity and then finding ways that Dad gets those opportunities. And every family will look different.
– [Aaron] Okay, so here’s some ideas, a meal date. Just picking a breakfast lunch or a dinner and going somewhere, maybe bring it, like you make a pack a lunch and you go to a park.
– [Jennifer] Or bring ’em to either yours or theirs favorite restaurant.
– [Aaron] Right and just you and them.
– [Jennifer] Another one is grabbing hot chocolate and bringing a game along or coloring. Depending on their age.
– Coloring, a miniature board game.
– [Aaron] Something like, what’s that dice game? Yahtzee?
– I was gonna say Farkle.
– [Aaron] Or Farkle, oh that’s a fun one.
– [Jennifer] But hot chocolate and I’m assuming as they get older, it might turn into a coffee date. But hey, that’s fun.
– [Aaron] Another idea is treat ’em to a treat, like a cookie or a bagel or a cupcake or something like that. A donut, we love donuts, and a devotional, bring some sort of like child appropriate devotional and just read it with them and talk to them say, “What’d you think of that? “Do you have any questions for me?”
– [Jennifer] Or maybe you don’t have a resource, but you have a very specific conversation that you want to share with them privately. Use that opportunity for that. Another one would be the trampoline park. Aaron, you’re really good at this one.
– [Aaron] I like this one. This one is a fun one for me.
– [Jennifer] I feel like I’m always pregnant and so it’s hard for me to feel comfortable jumping and I get dizzy really easily but you love taking the kids and the kids look forward to you taking them to the trampoline park.
– [Aaron] And it gets a lot of energy out and you can do it with them. And it also requires, you’re not gonna be on your phone because it’s hard to jump on your phone.
– [Jennifer] It doesn’t have to be trampoline, it could be laser tag or something fun like that but it’s just going to one of those places that is very kid friendly and having fun.
– [Aaron] Another one that’s free, a bike ride.
– [Jennifer] Unless you don’t have bikes.
– [Aaron] Unless you don’t have bikes, but–
– You could rent some.
– You can go for a walk, but a bike ride, a lot of people have bikes. Go for just a bike ride around your block, go take the bike somewhere on a trail, and just have that time of going, stopping and looking at stuff and talking.
– [Jennifer] Wear your helmets! Even you Mom and Dad, be an example. Another one is interest shopping, and what I mean by this is just for example, okay Elliot’s so into Legos and we have this really cool local guy who has a Lego store and it’s small and it’s like a boutique, but you go in there and there’s Legos everywhere. He has a personal collection that he switches that in and out. And so just taking a random afternoon to go check the Lego store.
– [Aaron] And it doesn’t mean even you have to buy anything. We tell our kids all the time we like to go look at things and we’ll say we’re not buying anything today, but let’s go look. And then they’re like “Okay,” so their expectations are totally set and they enjoy looking at stuff.
– [Jennifer] Yeah, so I say interest shopping ’cause it could be anything from window shopping down in a downtown area to eventually you know, your girl is 16 and she actually wants to go shopping so it could change depending on the child.
– [Aaron] This next one’s a free one also and Elliot loves this one, Barnes and Noble trip or library. What we do is we just go and Barnes and Noble’s fun because you can go and they have so many different types of books and we’ll sit in the back and he just picks a book up, starts looking through the pages, picks another book up. Sometimes he’ll be like, “Hey Dad, read this one to me.” We’ll go sit down and I just read to him and it’s just me and him and it’s quiet in there.
– [Jennifer] There’s been a couple times you guys have come back with a gift for Olive or something like that. So using the opportunity as a thoughtful way to say “You’re not gonna get anything, “but what would stand out to your sister or your brother “or your Mom or Dad?” Another one would be going to get ice cream. Go and get ice cream, go for a walk. Some ice cream places do like a factory tour, you could do something fun like that.
– [Aaron] One more is, we got two more, run an errand. This is like a really practical one, I have to go do something, I have to go get the mail, we have to go to the grocery store, and take a child with you and they’re your partner. So I’ll take Wyatt and he’s in charge of the list or Elliot will be in charge of the list of what we’re getting and I’ll say, “Okay, we’re looking for this, what aisle that on?” And so it’s like a fun, something that has to be done, but they’re doing it with me and they’re your partner in that job.
– [Jennifer] And it’s fun when you give them a job to do on that errand. I know you just mentioned that but I had just been thinking like yeah, they really think that they’re valued and have responsibility in the family when they get to be a part of it. The last one that we want to share with you is just a special event. This could be as simple as volunteering to help someone move, so Dad and son go help so and so move or a baby shower, I think of all the times that I get to take Olive on a little date and share in an experience like a baby shower with her and so even something like that you can utilize an event opportunity to take your kids on a date.
– [Aaron] And there’s a ton of other things, our heart was just to get your mind on this. What are ways that you can get alone with your children and get to know them? And taking turns, Dad doing this, Mom doing this because they wanna know both of your hearts are with them, they wanna know that both of you know them, and that you desire to be with them and like them. And it also, yeah like you said, the pack, it shows that they’re an individual amongst the family but that they’re also a part of the family.
– [Jennifer] And as I was just thinking about this, we shared questions that you could ask your child to be able to pull out that conversation from their hearts but also give them the opportunity to ask you questions. Say, “Is there anything that’s been on your heart “that you want to ask Mom or Dad? “Anything that’s confusing or you’ve been struggling with?”
– [Aaron] Anything you want to know about me?
– [Jennifer] Or yeah, you wanna know about me? So I think opening up opportunity for your kids to ask you questions would be a really huge benefit to the relationship by doing that.
– Totally. So we hope that encouraged you. Hope we gave you a lot of good ideas to run with.
– [Jennifer] The next time you go on a one on one date time with your kids, be sure to post a picture and share it on Instagram and tag Marriage After God so that we can see what you guys are up to. It’ll be inspiring to all of us.
– [Aaron] As usual, we end in prayer, so why don’t you pray for us?
– [Jennifer] Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of family. Thank you for the blessing of children. May we be people who are willing to make our children feel special and to feel seen and heard. Help us to spend quality time with them, building fond memories and moments that build our trust with them. Help us to carve out time to show our kids that we desire to be close with them and want to dialogue with them. We pray we would be fun and intentional parents with the purpose of teaching our kids Your ways. May our children have a heart to build a family of their own because they love our example and appreciate all that they have experienced. May Your love be woven into our legacy and may Your light shine in our relationships with our children. In Jesus’ name, amen.
– [Aaron] Amen. Thanks for joining us on this episode. If you haven’t left us a review, please take the opportunity to do that now. We love reviews from our listeners. And also don’t forget to get the new download. Or it’s not a download, it’s a challenge. The Parenting Prayer Challenge. You can go to parentingprayerchallenge.com, sign up, it’s completely free and we’ll send you prompts every day for the next 31 days to pray for your children. We love you guys, see you next week. Did you enjoy today’s show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a review on iTunes. Also, if you’re interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.