So I did something crazy. I caught a ride to a writers' conference with a complete stranger. Okay, I knew her on-line, but I'd never actually met her before. The four-hour (each way) trip passed in minutes as we talked about anything and everything. At some point, she told me about her family's Friday night traditions; I knew she needed to share their story with you! So please welcome Stephanie Pavlantos, now my actual face-to-face writer-friend, to Intentional Parenting. Read more about her at the end.
Three children under three. That was my world. My husband worked long hours at our family restaurant, making me feel like a single mom.
When I went to the doctor for swollen lymph nodes, pain all over my body, and a sore throat, she said, “You have mono, but we rarely see that in women your age, are you under a lot of stress?”
“Ha! Does having three children under three years old count?” I asked.
I had two-and-a-half year old preemie twins (boy and girl) and a one-year-old son. My oldest son, who has cerebral palsy and was just learning to walk, needed a lot of extra attention, including therapy, not to mention extra daily help.
I needed to make life as simple as I could.
Like all children, mine wanted to have fun and be entertained. But I was only one person, and taking them out by myself was not only nerve-racking (hence, the mono) but also expensive.
Matthew had physical and occupational therapy every Friday morning. During the summer, the local Children’s Hospital had a really inexpensive outdoor lunch for the outpatient children and their parents. It wasn’t the most nutritious, but it was easy! We got a drink, chips, and a hot dog at the hospital’s playground, and my kids loved it. I thought, I can do this. So, at different times of the month I would pack up their lunches, put each in their own little lunch bag, and take everyone to the park. They played, they ate, they had fun, and it cost me very little.
Another tradition involved Fridays. After physical and occupational therapy every Friday, the first thing we did was go to the library for books and movies. These were going to last them all week, so they could each get two movies and as many books as they could carry, or, um, I could carry. From there, we went to the local drug store where they could each pick one of the discounted snacks to eat later. When we got home, they popped in the first movie while I straightened up my house. Dinner was always pizza. My youngest is almost twenty-one now, and he still wants pizza on Friday night. “It’s a tradition,” he says.
We all watched an age appropriate movie while enjoying our pizza. Then, all three kids went to the twins’ bedroom and watched the next movie on another TV while eating their special snack. That’s when I finally got to sit and watch something I wanted to. My twenty-two year old daughter recently told me this is a favorite memory. She enjoyed the routine and looked forward to it each week.
We have done many other things with our kids over the years—big and small trips. But sometimes it’s the little, inexpensive things which bring us together and let our children know we want to be with them. This is what they remember.
Sometimes the simple family routines become special memories when you’re spending time together. An #IntentionalParenting guest post from Stephanie Pavlantos via @Carole_Sparks. #familytime (click to tweet)
Does your family share some simple but special habits? Do your older kids remember a childhood pattern you thought was insignificant? We would love to hear your stories in the comments below!
Stephanie Pavlantos is passionate about getting people into God’s Word, where they can discover God’s love for them, their identity in Christ, and healing for the wounds of this life, while forgiving those who caused their pain. She has been a Bible study teacher and speaker for over fifteen years. Stephanie’s work-in-progress, a Bible study called Yeshua, God’s Son, our Treasure: A Quest through the Book of Hebrews, recently won an award at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.
Stephanie and her husband, Mike, have been married for 26 years and have three college students: Matthew, Alexandria, and Michael. Stephanie also loves animals. Her brood currently includes has two dogs, four ducks, three goats, and many chickens.