A Year of Slowing Down and Making Dates with Your Kids.

Envelopes sealed and stacked on a table

I have no idea what moms did before Pinterest, but for those of us in the Pinning age, don’t you love how it really punctuates your mom rockstar status? 

This time last year, I was looking for some inspiration for fun activities to do at home on New Year’s Eve. In doing so, I can across an idea to make a box of envelopes, one for each month of the upcoming year. At the beginning of each month, your kids are to open their envelope for that month to reveal a “date” or activity to do one on one with a parent in that month. I absolutely loved this, put one together and shared it with my son on New Year’s Eve. 

Intentional Time Together Matters, Regardless of Age

I see lots of benefits to trying this out and highly recommend it.  Maybe you have multiple children and believe they could each benefit from one on one time with you. Maybe your schedule with work and the millions of others things you do to manage your house doesn’t leave you much downtime for the fun and simple things.  For me, my son was 10 at the time and, as we approached the holidays, I was feeling the reality of his growing up so fast and the fact that we’re beginning to run low on Christmas’ with him at home. With our family schedule as it is and the fact that I work from home,  I’m physically with my son often so I didn’t feel a need to see him as much as I felt needed to spend time with him that wasn’t filled with homework, errands and rides to and from school.

Tips for Making a Successful Box of Monthly Activities

Make a List

So I started by making a list of things I knew he would enjoy doing like bowling, playing games and some of the places he enjoys going out to eat. I also thought about things I knew would be going on in the upcoming year. As a football coaches’ family, our fall months are always crazy. So I didn’t have any illusions something big and complicated would be successful those months. I also knew we were moving over the summer and factored that into what I planned. Finally, of course, season-specific items must be placed where they make the most sense. By the end of making the box, I was probably more excited that he was to open the envelopes each month!

Be Realistic

As usual with things such as this, it’s important to keep activities within the realm of what you can accomplish. While I would have loved to have taken him to Disney World one month or something, that wasn’t going to happen. Some activities, like a movie, lunch out, or bowling did cost money. Other activities like stargazing, board game night or an indoor camp out were free using things I already had. Activities can be as creative as you want them to be and within the confines of whatever budget you choose. The idea isn’t to break the bank, it’s to stay connected. 

Make it a Priority

It’s also important to prioritize. I know how easily a month can get out of hand. So I would ask my son to open his envelope as close to the first day of that month as I could. Then we would immediately sit down with the calendar of events we knew we had and add it in right then. Then if something else came up, we both knew that unless we couldn’t get out of this new task, we would say no because “We had a very important date.”

Our Experience

The first thing I learned from this experience was something I think I already knew but just needed to confirm. That is that when we get rid of the technology, deadlines and daily grind and just spent some time having general fun together, my son and I were able to connect, have lots of good conversation and tons of laughs. It was just a nice little bright spot to our month. The second thing I confirmed from this experience is I am for sure raising an awfully cool little human!

We really enjoyed all of the activities we completed. I can’t really think of one I wish we didn’t do and I believe he would say the same. I think my favorite month was January. For that month we took a board game of his choice to Starbucks for cocoa and cake pops. He chose his new chess set from Christmas.  This was my favorite because besides being a blast I got to see for the first time just had great he had gotten at chess. He was a member of a local chess club for the first time and even though he had been in it since school started in August, it was an after-school club so I didn’t watch it each week. And since their tournaments hadn’t started I was sort of out of the loop on if he was truly enjoying it and how he was doing. It had also been years since I’d played chess and I told him he was going to have to refresh my memory. He was very patient with me and a very good teacher. It’s a favorite memory for sure. 

New Favorite Memories

In asking him about his very favorite month, he picked July. By July, we had already moved and were starting to get settled in our new community. For that month, I found a locally owned diner that’s open 24 hours and we made a “Midnight Diner Run”. I think he enjoyed this one best because it’s so out of character in our house. I’m pretty strict with a schedule including bedtimes so to stay up until Midnight was already exciting in itself. Then it just so happened that we were the only people there so it was like having our own private restaurant. 

As we are now wrapping up the year, I’ve already talked to my son about whether or not he enjoyed this and would be willing to do it again.  We both agreed that we enjoyed it a lot and would like make more plans for the new year. I know one day before I know it, it won’t be “cool” to hang out with mom.  So I intend to do this as long as he lets me. 

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