My husband has been having what we call “Special Time” with each of our five children for years. Once a week, he carves out an hour or two to spend with one of our kids doing something that allows conversation to be the main event. Yes, even as adults, they enjoy some one-on-one time so they can glean from his years of experience and wisdom in so many areas.
When he started having Special Time with them, he learned that what may have been special to him was not necessarily memorable to them. Now if the Special Time included working on a home project, or running an important errand together, the choice may not be the child’s. But many times, their Special Time was at the discretion of the child whose week it was to have daddy all to himself for a few hours.
Considering Their Preferences Is Special
As he would plan Special Time each week, he soon learned to take into consideration the individual child’s interests. While it may seem that ANY child would like to go to a playground, we found out quickly that each of our five had distinct preferences.
While one enjoyed getting to go shopping to pick out a gift, another wanted to play ball in the yard, while still another chose to go for a walk and just talk.
Perhaps my husband was going to take one of the children out to a special lunch. What may be a favorite place to him just might not stand a chance against McDonald’s and its Playland.
So we learned that if we were to make a time special for a specific child, we needed to customize that time by including some of what he or she perceived as special.
Giving Yourself Is Special
I enjoyed having Special Time with each of my children on their Special Day. The Special Day was an assigned weekday every week in birth order—having five kids, this worked out perfectly. I often would need to have that special time at home which limited my options.
While building wonderfully intricate inventions with Legos was not necessarily my forte, my sons would still appreciate that I would come into their world with them. That I could do. It was more about time together, talking, doing, exploring what was important to them.
Recognizing Their Uniqueness Is Special
The book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages of Children, helped us understand our kids better as far as preferences for spending time together. It explains how all of us are wired with different percentages of the five ways we give and receive love. Each of our five was a different mix. And helping them discover their unique makeup was exciting.
It didn’t matter whether they’d rather go to the trampoline park instead of Incredible Pizza. Our job was to do as much as we could to follow their lead—within reason of course.
The Rewards Of Doing What They Love
The time that we spent with our children individually has reaped many rewards now that they are gone from the nest. They know they can still trust us to be interested in what they are involved in. They know we will be their biggest cheerleaders. They come to us with their frustrations, their need for guidance, and their greatest successes. And we will be there right alongside them, as we always have been.
Question: How do you carve out special time with your child to do what they love? Share your answer in the comments below.