29 Jan 2016

The One Weekly Parenting Habit That Helps Us Connect with Our Big Kids

At ten and eight my boys are now old enough to help. This is revolutionary. They can do their own safety belts, buckle their sister in, ride bikes to go pick up the mail, scramble the eggs, fold their own laundry, help read the bedtime stories, and so the list goes on.

I didn’t know this would happen. I mean, some things you can know in your head but the message doesn’t always make it to your exhausted bones. That first decade of parenting is a crushing, hamster wheel of exhaustion. So these days, waking up to sons who have helped themselves to bowls of cereal for breakfast, packed their back packs and actually remembered by themselves which days they need to bring the saxophone for band practice – they’re straight up miraculous to me.

Also, they want to wear ties on Sundays now – swoon!

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I don’t want to take this new stage for granted.

But with all the sports and the homework and the early morning dance practices it can be easy to slip into a lot of go, go, go and not so much of the connection and cuddling and slow time together that was so much of those early years.

There’s one weekly habit in our family that helps.

One weekly habit that came about as a complete accident. But has become essential.

One weekly habit the boys never let us forget no matter how exhausted Pete and I might be or how much some nights we’d rather just unwind in front of the TV.

They call it Wednesday night.  Doesn’t sound like much, does it?

But here’s the thing. Somehow Wednesday night has become the designated, weekly bed swap, stay up and chat night in our house. Jackson gets to snuggle in the big bed with me and Micah gets Peter in the bunk bed beside him. It’s sacred. They never forget. And I mean never.

Everyone’s brushing teeth and Peter and I are finally within reach of alone time and the boys will yell out through a mouthful of toothpaste – “Don’t forget, it’s Wednesday!”

Or I’ll be about to tuck them both into their own beds and they’ll leap from the covers yelling, “Wait! It’s WEDNESDAY!”

Sometimes, it starts much earlier in the day – with a reminder before the bus picks them up, “It’s Wednesday today mom – you know what that means!”

And we do.

Wednesday nights in our house – after the little sister has been put to bed – have come to mean this: 

  • We connect – Each boy gets to hang out with one of us, individually.
  • We chatwhich means we really just catch up on all the things from the week we might not have heard about yet. The secret, sometimes exciting, sometimes achingly sad moments from their lives that they haven’t taken the time to unpack with us yet. It’s excruciatingly tender – this quiet unwrapping of the days to introduce us to friends who mean a lot to them or friends who have wounded them.
  • We listen this time is worth its weight in GOLD. Because this is the time the boys want to talk. They lie in the dark and invite us into the nooks and crannies of their hearts and we’re constantly amazed by what we discover. Someone shares a passionate love with detailed explanation about the life cycle of Koi fish while someone else might want to relive and rehash the scarier moments of the new Star Wars movie. We never know what will come of the dark. But it’s always worth the time invested.
  • We don’t rush – these are not nights for quick kisses and rushed goodbyes. These nights are about lingering. We linger long. Sometimes Pete and I might drop off in the middle only to be poked awake by a boy who is still talking. It means bedtimes run late and we’re OK with it. Because the conversation comes first.
  • We talk all things faith – we’re not a by-the-book family when it comes to setting aside specific times for family devotions or Bible readings. We’re a more organic, integrated into all the things, sometimes we forget and sometimes we remember, family. But we’ve found, on Wednesday nights all kinds of faith questions bubble to the surface.
    – Why don’t some kids have a mom and a dad?
    – Why were Adam and Eve naked?
    – What should I say to the girl who is always teasing me?
    – What happens to dogs when they die?
    – Why is ISIS so mad at us?
    – Who will I know in heaven one day?
    – What if the girl I love doesn’t want to marry me?
    – Why don’t we get to play the video games our friends are allowed to play?
    – What’s wrong with swear words?

And on and on and on times infinity – and the amazing thing about the Bible is that there truly is, “nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9. The Bible covers war and violence and passion and lying and heaven and friendship and nakedness and shame and love and parenting and over and over again it proves itself relevant to our kids.

It’s these conversations that give faith legs because that’s when it walks into their real, everyday life and gets up in their business. These questions are the kid version of, “work[ing] out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

In between basketball trophies, mac ‘n cheese and Wednesday night bedtime we want the Bible to become a staple in their lives. A guide book, a dictionary for life, an adventure map and a friend you can trust.

For a long time my oldest slept with this copy under his pillow.

Funny how often we think we need big plans or an agenda or a destination to connect with our kiddos – especially as they get older. For now, for us, Wednesday nights work unexpected magic.

Highly recommended. You’ll be surprised what they share when this one night of no-holds barred conversation becomes a habit.

Want some more tools to include in the mix?

We love The Beginner’s Bible – makes for easy kid-to-kid reading (currently on sale down from $16.99 to $11.89).

There’s also  The Beginner’s Bible Kid-Sized Devotions. And The Beginner’s Bible Devotional Pack.

Just add a pillow, a night light, and an available grown up and you’ll be amazed what you learn from your kid.

With thanks to Zondervan for sharing the 25th anniversary of the Beginner’s Bible with our family and supporting today’s post. It has become such a gift to us. Let your kids take a peek at it and pick up your own copy to create your own perfectly irregular Wednesday night routine over here.

 

Comments

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  1. 1
    Shelly Smith says:

    So, just out of curiosity, do you then sleep wherever you are snuggling? Or does everyone go back to their own bed at some point (after talking and snuggling)?

  2. 2

    I LOVE that you have this time!!!!! The rewards it will reap are immeasurable!

  3. 3

    Love it! Our kids are getting older now..the youngest will be 18 late this year, but memories were brought to mind whilst reading your post. 2 years of living in the US/KS (we live in the UK). A season in our lives where we learned so much about the Lord, each other, and how to really ‘live by faith’ in a country not our own.
    The Beginner’s Bible had a much loved place in our home during that season too.
    Read-aloud-together sessions, chatting about over dinner and bed-time tuck-ins.. Brought back so many lovely memories reading this post. Thank you.

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