Meet Darin Berkley. This blog post is a challenge from Darin to “date your kids monthly.” He has had over 175 dates with his kids and it’s a great challenge. He also has a website called Chalkboardparenting.com.
In December 2009, my wife and I found out we were going to have our second child. Our oldest, Eli, had just turned four. I was so excited to have a second child, but at the same time, I knew that it was going to make it harder to spend one-on-one time with Eli. I will never forget a couple of days later the Lord put on my heart the idea to have a monthly date with him. I loved the concept, and the fact that January was right around the corner was the perfect time to begin something new.
On January 13, 2010, a rainy and cold night, Eli and I left on our date. We went to Chick-fil-a, a used bookstore and got a smoothie for dessert. Nothing fancy, expensive or extraordinary. Just a few hours for us to spend time together. Looking back, the thing that made it one of the greatest nights of my life was the fact that we decided to do it again the next month.
My calendar was busy, so I knew if this was going to have any chance at sticking, I was going to have to be serious and intentional about planning it. Eli was born on the 13th (of November), so I decided that on the 13th each month we could have our date. And so we did, month after month. We began to have traditions, and as time went on, I started to see our relationship change. It became a thing in our house, a big thing. In time, it became the thing in our house as it relates to parenting.
That was over eight years ago, and Eli and I never stopped. This April we will celebrate our 100th date, one we’ve been planning for a while. I now have three children, Eli is 12, Truett is 7 and Mia is 4. Last month I celebrated my 175th collective date with them, and I estimate I’ve spent about 600-700 hours over the years in our time together.
How Important Is It?
When I first began having those dates with Eli, it was simply for the two of us to spend time together.
Let’s pause there.
That, in and of itself would be worth accepting my challenge and putting this on your calendars. If you are a married parent, take a minute and think about the three most important relationships in your life. Most of you would say the Lord, your spouse and your kids. I’m guessing that you would say that spending one-on-one time with the Lord and your spouse is vital to your relationship and growth. So why then, are your children are any different?
If I just wrote this article to tell you that spending time with your kids is worthy of ink on your calendar, I could stop there. But there is so much more. You see, spending time with your kids is like exercising. When you exercise, of course, that’s good for you by itself, but it also begins to change other areas of your life such as the way you eat, how you feel, your sleep and so on. Spending one-on-one time with your kids is the same thing!
What began to make our dates so critical was not merely that it gave us time together, but it was everything that came with it. What telling your child that they mean enough for you to stop everything in life and spend time with them does more to them and your relationship then I could ever explain. The dates also began to allow me to use them for intentional parenting, made conflict easier at home and gave me grace when I failed as a parent.
You Can Do It!
Now let me encourage you for a minute. I understand your calendars are full. Please know that I’m not trying to add to your burdens. That one-on-one time with them can be just an hour at the park which is doable and free. It can be breakfast on a Saturday morning, a movie on a rainy night or a game night at home. The dates can be flexible and inexpensive.
The two most critical pieces are communication and consistency. Tell your child you would like to have a monthly date with them (that alone is huge) and commit to it. All that’s left is making it a priority on your calendar and having fun. The rest will come. I promise.
It doesn’t matter if you are a single mom with one child or a married family with five kids. Your children may be older, but even if they’re starting high school, you could still have somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 dates with them before they leave home.
I promise that if you accept this challenge, you will see some amazing changes in your family. If I can help you in any way, please let me know. I would love to encourage and support you.