March Madness, family style

One night not too long ago, as I kissed her good night, Joanna whispered in my ear: “I really miss being in kindergarten because I used to get to spend so much time with you.”

My heart sort of broke a little.

It’s true that with our town’s half-day kindergarten program, we did spend a lot of time together last year. We didn’t do anything special — lunch, stories, a game, and an hour of quiet time (she watched TV and I sat on the couch next to her, listening to Caillou or Max and Ruby with my eyes closed). It wasn’t exciting, but it was just us two, alone. And in a house with six people, alone time is pretty rare.

I gave Joanna another kiss and promised that soon, soon, we’d find some time.

I’m still looking.

Lately I’ve been feeling that everything is moving too fast. The days are filled and busy and fun and go-go-go, and we try to have family time in the form of playing board games or watching movies, but I can’t help but somehow feel like my kids’ childhoods are just slipping through my fingers like sand.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t know them that well any more.

March MadnessSo I decided to put an end to it, starting this month. I’m calling it March Madness (well, of course), because my idea is really, truly mad.

This month, once a week, I’m keeping each of the kids home from school for the day, so I can spend that entire day just with that kid. I don’t know what we’ll do — get out into the world, go to the Y or to the park or the movies or out to lunch, to the craft store or the rec center or wherever that kid wants to go. I’ll take the day off from work and writing and Facebooking and Twittering, and even from the Blueboards, and start to get to know that kid all over again.

It’s sounds almost embarrassing to write it down, that I’d need to do this. But, I don’t know. Four kids, busy days, nonstop life. I find pockets here and there for each one (bed time, errand-running, any chance I get to make each of my children feel special and unique and well-loved and well-liked), but it doesn’t seem like enough, not right now. They’re not far from being teenagers, and then they’ll be even busier and more outwardly focused, and somehow it seems that if I don’t start now, later will be too late.

I plan to make March Madness a seasonal thing (October Mayhem? January Blizzard Buster?), so it’s not once a year that a child sees Mom for a day, alone, especially at this age when spending a day with Mom is actually a fun thing, not an annoyance. A day just for that child to stand out, be special, a day when a child can pretend he or she is the only kid on the planet, the most important kid in the universe.

I’m starting this week, and I’m starting with Joanna.

Let the madness begin!

Have you done anything like my March Madness with your family? How do you find “quality time” with your kids?

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6 thoughts on “March Madness, family style

  1. I think this is such a wonderful idea Jen, I am following suit!! Even though Bridgette is an only, I feel like she is so busy, we are always on the run!!! I miss my little girl and I love spending time with her!! I think having a special day with just Mom out of school is a great tradition to start. I know exactly what I am going to do with her!! Thanks for the push and the idea!!

  2. I like this idea. Like the white rabbit said to Alice ” it’s late, it’s late, no time to stop and play” or something like that. perhaps if thekids had less extra school stuff to do there could be more time for family time and private time for the kids and you.

    It’ never to late to stop and smell the roases.

  3. What a brilliant idea! I LOVE the days when I go out and do something fun with just one of our kids. Still. Even though they’re legally adults. I’m sure you’ll enjoy these very special days at least as much as your lucky kids do.

  4. I really love this! I know how Joanna feels, I can remember being the only one home with mom and it felt really special (and it was really special). Just this morning we reminisced about my sophomore year in high school when I was the only kid still at home. She really enjoyed that time being connected to me and what I was doing. The Christmas I gave the kids a day out with me was really fun! I hope you have a fun time with each of your babies :)

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