February is already here and love is in the air! Whether you enjoy the hearts, candy, and greeting cards or you prefer to see the 14th come and go quietly, love is an unavoidable topic this month. As we prepare to meet our newest family member in the next month of two, the topic of love has been recurring in our house. Drew and I are trying our best to make our girls feel special in these last few weeks before their brother is born. Here are a few of the things we do to make our girls feel loved now and as our family grows.
Having several small children means that your time together is usually that -together. Finding time to give to each of them – what we call Mommy Dates or Daddy Dates – gives them a window of time one on one with each parent. Although the word date usually means spending money, we try to find ways to go on dates that are inexpensive or cost free.
For Miss Moo, she LOVES to go with Daddy to play trains at Barnes and Noble – even though there is a train table in the girls’ room. She also loves solo park and playground trips with Daddy and spending time home alone just playing with him. Occasionally, they might go get breakfast or a hot chocolate, but mostly they spend time together that isn’t about cost and is about togetherness. With me, Moo loves to visit the library to read books and bring some home, show me how to navigate our list at the grocery store, and have me take her to gymnastics solo so that I can focus on watching just her – not chasing Roo around. Simple things, but by calling them dates she knows it means she has 100% of our attention.
Miss Roo and I on a “date” to Target in December.
Miss Roo LOVES to help me run errands. Most of the time, our Mommy Dates- planned at the same time as Moo’s Daddy dates - involve her help at the grocery store, craft store, or other errands with lists that she can help complete. Roo also loves going to the park and swinging endlessly for hours, sharing a hot chocolate with me, and reading. She also loves that once a week, she has solo Daddy Date time while they go to gymnastics alone and Moo and I either play here or go do something fun, like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s — usually her choice!
There will be some modification needed once Baby Boy is born, but knowing what our girls like to do as well having a routine we hope will help ease the transition to an additional member in our family.
Reasons They Are Special
We also are trying to give them more visual reminders that they are important to us and loved. This year, Drew and I are writing something on a heart daily from February 1st through the end of the month, then placing them on their closet doors for them to see. We want them to see how special they are to each of us, and that we can think of a reason each and every day that we are blessed to have them in our lives. When the month is over, I will take down the hearts, laminate them, and keep them as a book for them. I’m hoping we will remember to do this each year so they will have a collection when they are older.
Dinner Choice Nights
Food and eating are a big deal in our house. While my girls have never been picky, there are meals that they enjoy more than others. Each week, I ask for their input on one dinner. Unreasonable requests are sometimes integrated into what we end up eating. While I won’t fix a dinner of ice cream and fruit, I WILL make local grassfed burgers with cheddar, fresh french fries, peas, fruit, and homemade milkshakes. Dinners that have been requested from them also have been spaghetti, “chicken” nuggets with rice (which is usually catfish instead of chicken), and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I will also trying to fix something that they as for repeatedly- Moo asks for pancakes, bacon, and eggs almost daily so we have that for dinner once a month. We also really listen to what they say about the food they eat. Moo doesn’t like soups as much as Roo, so on soup or chili nights, she knows there will be a steaming hot, baked potato with cheese, butter, and sour cream waiting for her alongside her small bowl of chili.
Miss Moo with her yummy potato on Chili Night.
Showing the girls that we listen to what the like or focusing on what they want for a meal and family time help them to seem their importance to us and their role as a member of the family.
Drew usually handles bedtime with the girls. It’s the one hour a day that I get guaranteed alone time and that he has time for them to be with just him after he’s worked all day. But, his job requires odd work times and the girls aren’t always ready to fall asleep at the same time each night. Several times a month, Moo ends up awake during his work window or long past Roo falling asleep.
We used to fight, argue, give timeouts — but nothing worked and we fought her. Now, we plan a special bedtime weekly. Most of the time they coincide with Drew’s working late and we cuddle in bed with a book, a movie, or just to chat. Some nights Roo is with us and other nights it is just the two of us. Sometimes, it is even Moo, Drew and I and she LOVES those nights. Staying up past bedtime and getting attention means that she sleeps once she is in bed and rests fully — sometimes even “sleeping in!”
She also knows that Special Bedtimes are a privilege and she can lose them if she doesn’t listen, use her manners, eat her dinner, etc. We have turned the negative attention into some positive time with her and her sister. If she is in here with me and Drew isn’t working, he lays down with Roo so she can have some one on one attention. A simple solution to what was becoming a tearful and painful event. We would much rather she benefit from our time and love rather than be in tears.
We also try to surprise the girls occasionally with something that they love and we know it. Getting in the van and not telling them where we are going only to end up a a far away but beloved park is always met with squeals of joy. Having the added milkshake on burger night means hugs, thank yous, and grinning faces. Asking Moo or Roo if they’d like to go somewhere with me only to find out the are going with JUST me is always met with smiles and cheers. And giving THEM alone time with special people — like their favorite babysitter or NanaPop – while Daddy and I go have alone time is also important and special to them.
We also surprise them with little gifts on holidays. This February 14th, I plan to make them some holiday hand kites, a fairy wand of love, and a Valentine Fairy- just so they know they are special on special days — but also to show them that making something has move love and meaning than buying candy and flowers from the store. Little surprises mean the most to our girls.
Always Share Praise and Pride
Although you may tell your children how you feel, you can never say it enough. Praising Moo for helping me with the laundry and cooking dinner shows her that I do appreciate what she does in our home as well. Applauding for Roo after she follows a several step instruction lets her know we are proud of her accomplishments. Hearing that we are proud of them reinforces how special they are to us. The most meaningful gifts we give our girls are the ones that are priceless. Remember to love them, hold them, and always tell them what a blessing they are to you and your family.
What do you do to show your love to your children? Are there ways that you make them feel special each day?
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