After a long week packed with travel and meetings, my favorite times this weekend were four different experiences that demonstrate the value of planning for defining moments. The first was Saturday morning laying in the playroom with the girls under their sleeping bags as we watched multiple episodes of My Little Pony. My girls absolutely adore this show, they’ve watched every episode on Netflix (multiple times over). They’ve also each adopted a favorite pony that seems to match their personalities in some way. Riley prefers Rainbow Dash because she’s athletic, Olivia prefers Pinkie Pie because she’s outgoing and empathetic, and London true to form likes Rarity and Twilight Sparkle because well, she’s a bit of a diva. Now this is valuable relationship intel that I can build on.
Next up was date night Saturday evening. After falling off the saddle for a few months during the summer due to a newborn being around, we’re back on track with two consecutive months of date nights. We’ve even got our dates planned and booked through November. Sometimes just the simple act of putting it on the calendar puts things in motion, and communicates a degree of importance. For Samantha and I, our time away from the kids is simply time to enjoy one another as those two lovebirds who met in a freshmen dorm at Emory. This week we wandered around Lenox Mall and then went and enjoyed a couple’s massage. Looking back, it was the best time invested all weekend, and I say invested intentionally.
Any couple with young kids knows how much of a machine your weekly life can be. So much of your time is spent getting in synch on the rhythm of caring for a household. It becomes easy for your marriage to become kid focused, rather than spouse focused. Date nights and early bedtimes each week (the kids go down at 8!) really provide us with the opportunity we need to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company without the pressures of everyday life.
My next favorite moment was watching my daughter Riles achieve a goal that she’s been waiting months to accomplish. She purchased a lego set that she saved over $50 to buy. Each week I give the oldest two a set of opportunities to earn commission for doing work around the house. These aren’t their regular chores (they don’t get paid for things like keeping their rooms clean, or cleaning up after themselves in the playroom). Instead, they get paid for taking the initiative and doing work that adds value for others, things like cleaning the garage (which they did this weekend), pulling weeds in the backyard, or cleaning the bathrooms around the house.
Quick side-note, a few years ago I read the book, Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and one of his daughters. It discussed ways to help raise children who could grow into wise financial stewards. Samantha and I decided to adopt some of their financial philosophies into our parenting as well. Thus, the girls have a give, save, spend jar. Each week when they do work that adds value to others, they earn anywhere from $3-6 dollars, depending on the tasks they complete the and level of completion.
My eldest daughter (as can be expected with her birth order) is the uber responsible one. At the beginning of the year she set a goal of what she’d like to accomplish with her money. Then, each week she diligently allotted the majority of her funds towards her save jar. Even when her younger sister would periodically (or regularly it seems) empty out her spend jar and dip into her save jar to purchase little trinkets every few weeks, Riles remained steadfast to her goal.
Finally, this weekend it happened. She had saved enough (plus the minimum $10 balance we require them to maintain in their save jar) to purchase her lego set. We couldn’t have been prouder of her accomplishment, and I’m sure from the look of pride and joy on her face, she felt pretty good about it herself. She learned a valuable lesson today: the power of waiting for something that you really want, while you work for it. Now that’s something that she can build on for the rest of her life.
Finally, each Sunday I try to call extended relatives and give the girls a chance to speak to grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. It’s a habit I inherited from my parents growing up, and I think it’s a good one because it keeps you connected to family. One of these conversations, with my grandmother, lasted unusually long as we discussed everything from my new job, to the state of politics, to education in general (she’s a 40+ year veteran educator). Listening to her talk, it was just reaffirming to think about some of the choices I’ve made career wise, but also personally. I look at the impact of her life at now almost 80 years young, and it makes me hopeful that as my time adds up, I too will be able to look back and see the value that it brings.