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Challenge: Parenting Resolutions

Here's how ‘date days’ have helped during a time of change

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With the arrival of a new brother in late 2019, I worried how my 2.5-year-old son, Owen, would handle the change. I’m proud to admit my worries (as usual) were unnecessary. Saying he has rocked his new title of “Big Brother” is an understatement. Isn’t it interesting how often we underestimate our kids?

Owen and Connor Anderson

While my oldest is a warm-hearted toddler who treats his little brother like his best friend, there are still many times we’re dealing with terrible-two meltdowns and attention-seeking behavior. I’ve tried to be as aware as possible that change is tough for a toddler, and find ways to make the transition easier (for all of us).

So, for 2020 one of my goals is to incorporate a monthly “Mom & Owen” date. It’s a day for my son and me to hang out just the two of us. We get to spend time together, with 100% of my attention focused on him.

A new library recently opened five minutes from our house, so we decided on a visit there for our January date. Owen got his first library card and checked out some books. We played in the kids’ area, he looked at books on his own, and we read together.

Owen Anderson reading at the library

Here's why date days are important for all of us

As I watched my little guy (who now seems so big) use his imagination as he paged through books, I remembered what it was like when it was just us. Oh, how our lives have changed since Connor came into the family! And while Connor has brought tremendous joy to us in every way possible, he pulled a lot of time and attention away from Owen. That’s just what happens when we expand our families.

Needless to say, my first “Mom & Owen” date showed me how important it is to have this individual time together. Owen had a constant smile on his face knowing he got to hang out with mom by himself. I reminded myself to appreciate it, as I know it won’t always be like this. He felt truly special and couldn’t wait to tell his dad and Connor all about it.

Owen Anderson playing trains

I quickly realized how long it had been since it was just us. As a mom of two (or more), our attention is yanked in different directions immediately upon welcoming a new baby. Time speeds by until we suddenly can’t remember the last time our focus was solely on just one of the kids.

My suggestion for those going through a time of change is to do what you can to still make your kids feel special, and like an individual. I’ve found that incorporating date days is easy, fun, and practical.

Check out these tips:

  • Make them one-on-one. If you have multiple kids, try to have a date day with each of them.
  • If monthly dates won’t work for you, that’s okay. Every few months is okay, too. The goal is to make time for just the two of you to connect in a fun way, consistently.
  • Pick activities that both of you enjoy. Dates are meant to be fun all around and shouldn’t be seen as a chore. They don’t have to be exuberant, expensive, or all-day events. When Owen and I went to the library, we were there for two hours and it didn’t cost me a thing (except my time).
  • Put your phone away, unless you’re taking pictures.
  • Give your full attention to your child and make him/her feel special. This is a time for you to connect.

Owen Anderson reading a book

Date days are such an impactful, yet simple way to show your kids some love. I even see my husband trying to incorporate them. He’s taking Owen to watch his first hockey game this weekend. And I plan to start this new “tradition” with my youngest, Connor, next year.

As for my February date with my favorite big brother, I think we’ll head to an open gym at a gymnastics facility so he can bounce around and I can relive my glory days as a gymnast!

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