Stay-At-Home Holiday

by Dr Kevin Leman (author of Home Court Advantage)

Stay-At-Home Holiday

I heard of a boy in a progressive school who took part in individualized education.  One day he asked his parents, “Can we have one of those days when we…. when we used to … you know…”  He stumbled as he searched for the right word.  “Talk?  Could we just talk again?”

Statistics show that most kids want exactly that, to talk again with their parents.  Making that happen in today’s world of cocooning is a challenge. For instance, Dad comes home from work, and after dinner he plants himself in front of the TV.  The kids slip into their rooms and play video games while Mom does chores.  In too many homes, parents and kids live in separate cocoons.

If you want to enter your child’s world, enjoy a Stay at Home With Your Kids Day. You’re probably familiar with Take Your Kids to Work Day.  I’ve done that kind of thing - taking my kids with me on a business trip.  Taking my children with me provides the opportunity for us to focus on each other and talk about life, and my children get to see exactly what I do during the day. 

Whatever your type of profession or job, you kids will love the adventure.

Your kids’ world

But just as important – if not more – is to get into your kids’ world.  Do you know what TV shows your daughter watches when she comes home from school?  Do you know where your son hangs out after he drops his books on his bed?  If you work outside the home, you may have no idea.

To combat this, take a personal or vacation day and stay at home when your child has a day off from school.  Tune into what he or she is doing. If you cant get an entire day off, take a half-day and come home before your school-age child.

Memory makers

If you have more than one child, you might spend time with one in the morning and another in the afternoon.  However many children you have, spend individual time with them. Plan an activity (preferably at home) that your kids enjoy.  Play her favorite board game; work on that model he’s building; play games in the back yard; learn the secrets of his favorite video game; go to her favorite Web sites.

If you don’t know what to do, let your child assume the role of teacher.  Say something like “You know, I really have no idea what you do when you come home from school.  Would you show me your routine?”

Consider pulling out an old photo album.  As you look at those pictures together, talk about what your feelings were at that point, what you loved and feared.

Another option is to take a day trip.  Pack a lunch and choose an activity that allows you to converse.

You may be opening the door to teachable moments, like the time my daughter Lauren and I were listening to the radio.  The DJ said, “Forty-five percent of single men say they have done this on vacation.  What is it?”  People called in with various answers, but the answer was “have a one-night stand”. Lauren asked innocently, “What’s a one-night stand?”

My explanation gave us an opportunity to talk about the sanctity of marriage, the reality of sexually transmitted infections and the strength of her own parent’s marriage – topics we may have never talked about if I hadn’t spent time with my daughter.

The day will come, sooner than you can imagine, when you’ll be waving goodbye to your child as he or she enters adulthood.  You’ll be thinking, Where did the time go?

On that day, if someone offered to take you back to spend an entire day with your child when she was 3 or 8 or 1, you’d do it in a heartbeat, even if it cost you $1,000.  Do it now, when all it will cost you is a day off work.

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