Little Dates With Your Kids: The Raisin

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My fingers pulled the door shut in the last of my four sons’ bedrooms and I tiptoed into my room. I sat on the bed reflecting on the past day. I recounted the moments- school pick up/drop off, meal making, cleaning, jumping on the trampoline, reading books before bedtime. My kids were altogether in each of these. A terrible feeling bubbled in my gut: Had I actually spent any one-on-one time with each of my sons?! I hadn’t. In an entire day, I couldn’t remember a time where I JUST spent time with one of my sons, alone. Not one of them got my full, undivided attention. Something had to change, but how?! I had four kids and we were busy and spread thin just like everyone else. How could I make more time in my day to steal moments with one child at a time? When could I clear our schedule for a little date with each of my sons? I felt overwhelmed, guilty, and a bit hopeless.  

I called my mom the next day telling her about my revelation and feelings. She sympathized with me, having five kids herself, and told me of an idea she’d heard from a good friend recently. I needed to take each of my kids on a raisin

What is a Raisin? 

Puzzled, I asked her to tell me more. My mom explained that a raisin is a miniature version of a date figuratively (and I guess kind of literally too). A raisin is a smaller amount of time to spend with one child. My mom knew I’d be overwhelmed at the thought of carving out large blocks of time for each of my sons. Planning a big adventure would be hard for me with a lot of logistics to make it happen. 

This raisin idea is all about starting small. I knew the value of little moves in a forward direction, which made this raisin idea sound perfect. I decided to give these small dates a try…

Scheduling Raisins

I started by looking at my calendar. While looking at the month, I noticed there was a week where we had a couple of open evenings and good chunks of time on the weekend. It was possible that I could schedule a 30-60 minute block of time for each of my sons within a week of time so I ran with it. I talked with each of my boys, gave them some choices of days/times, and let them decide when they wanted to take a small date with me. We wrote them on the calendar we have hanging in our ‘command center’ near the kitchen. 

Next, I gave each of my sons some homework: what would you want to do with mommy if you had a 30-60 minute block of time? There were no rules except I was shooting for it to be free or fairly inexpensive. I could tell, over the next few days, my kids were carefully thinking about it. They would come to me with an idea and we’d talk it through making sure it would fit into the time frame. 

Raisins With My Kids

Within a few days, raisin week was here! With one of my sons there was a trip to an ice cream place. Another wanted a hike in the woods. A third chose to visit his favorite playground. The last one requested we split a large soft pretzel. On each of those four raisins, the conversation flowed, there were no other family distractions, and I could truly give each of my sons my undivided, fully present attention. We connected together. It was easy to tell that mattered to them and it certainly mattered to me.  

Someone may look at the list of things I did with each of my sons and wonder if there were any hurt feelings from the people who didn’t get to go to those places because it wasn’t their turn. The short answer is yes. However, I was very clear of the purpose of these raisins- to spend one-on-one time with each of my kids. I would love to take ALL of my boys on a hike, to get ice cream, to a playground, and to eat a soft pretzel, but we already do those things together! It’s fun and wonderful and we’ll keep doing family adventures too, but it wasn’t helping me connect on a deeper individual level with each of my four kids. There has to be space for both family time and one-on-one time. They both matter. 

What’s Next With Raisins

After seeing the success of scheduling those small little dates with each of my boys, I keep making them happen. Sometimes we can do them all within a week, other times I can only make one raisin per child happen during a month or two. Last Mother’s Day, I even fit in a raisin with all four sons in ONE DAY! I don’t do them nearly as much as I would like, but I’ve tried to ditch that guilt and celebrate that I am making small steps in being intentional spending quality time with my kids, individually. Those small steps, those little dates are making an impact. 

This idea of the raisin, the little date, is one of the best suggestions I ever heard to help in my motherhood journey. I want each of my kids to have a special relationship with me. I want them to know they are loved not just as a part of our family unit, but because of who each of them are as unique human beings. 

Trust me, I know how hard it is to have space for everything we want to do as parents. It is overwhelming and often feels impossible. Schedule a small date with each of your children, get it on the calendar… right now! It’s worth it. Start small, raisin small.  

Need Raisin Ideas?!

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