My word for 2017 is “Intentional”. I have worked hard choosing different aspects of my life to focus on being more intentional. I’ve created time to work out, restarted the budgeting sheets with my husband and carved out time for Bible Study at night. One area that I knew I still needed some work in was being intentional with my kids on an individual level. I chose to focus on my oldest daughter first. As an almost 9 year old competitive dancer and social butterfly, our time alone is getting harder and harder to find.
I decided to surprise her with a day trip to Chicago via the train to visit the American Girl Doll store and enjoy some much needed time away. I learned some very valuable lessons on this trip.
Experience something new – If you get an opportunity, take the train somewhere. We took the Amtrak out of Galesburg, which was less than an hour away. The seats were comfortable, there were bathrooms in the car, a snack car in the back and you can find tickets for under $50 round trip. This allowed us to sit and spend quality time talking with each other since I didn’t have to focus on the road, or finding a place to park.
Engage their interest – Our daughter has been asking to get her American Girl doll’s ears pierced forever. After surprising her with the trip and bringing her favorite doll, we spent over 4.5 hours walking around the store, looking at every detail, outfit, doll and accessory, then excitedly we stood in line and waited while they pierced her ears and fixed her doll’s hair. Her excitement brought me so much joy to watch and it was fun to follow her lead and let her guide me through the day.
Embrace the experience – I had asked many people if we should do lunch at the cafe and was met with mixed reviews. Some thought it was overpriced and others thought the food was mediocre. I decided since it was just us and we had the time and no siblings to keep entertained we would do it. It was amazing. They treated her like a princess, her doll got a special spot at the table and the food was good. My favorite part though was the box of papers they had on the table. Each slip of paper had a question or topic to talk about. It was so fun to hear her silly answers and talk about her dreams for her future. It reminded me to slow down and really listen to her words.
Indulge a bit – Since we had time to get away all by ourselves, we enjoyed some special treats just for fun. A stop at Garrett’s popcorn and hot cocoa at Ghiradelli’s provided us with lots of laughter and extra full bellies.
Document the fun – We took a lot of pictures on our day adventure and to remember it I made a quick and easy snapfish book for her to look at and remember the experience we had.
While I understand this type of trip might not work for everyone, the point remains the same. Find something your child is interested in and find a way to dedicate time just to them. It’s so easy to get caught up in social media or checking work emails, however, those can wait. If you are like me, you have realized in moments like these that those little kids who were once completely dependent on you are now turning into amazing kids with thoughts and dreams and even struggles. If we don’t make the time to invest in them now, they won’t take the time to share these things with us when it’s important.
I challenge you whether your little one is 2, 10, 18 or 36 to commit to spending some intentional time together. Listen to each other and hear the words they are saying. Indulge a bit in some of the simplicities of life like ice cream, hot chocolate or your favorite fast food restaurant. Then remember to document your time together with a picture, card or memento from something you enjoyed together. While this may seem silly, memories become fleeting as we get older and the things that we said we would never forget, start fading away.
How can you choose intentional time with your child?