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Family Rhythms: Running Errands

May 2, 2013

Jonathan Cliff:

A rhythm is something we do with regularity. Maybe it’s everyday, or every few days, but it’s something that you could set your clocks to because it will happen. It’s my goal to leverage my normal rhythms to make the investment that lasts in my kids lives.

We are a family of 5, and inevitably every few days entails Starr or I running an errand. Whether it’s the post office, grocery shopping, pharmacy, grocery shopping for what we forgot the first time, or just skattershooting around town; we spend a lot of time in the car out and about. While it can be tempting to let the kids stay at home, and do my stuff faster, I’m learning to resist that and take them along. Here’s how it works for me:

They have to want to go.|| I don’t make my kid go with me to the store, unless they just have to. I’ll tell you that if you can make the trip worth it a few times, then they’ll be begging to be with you.

Give them a job. || Always, always, always find a reason that you could use their help on your journey. Pushing the basket, carrying something into the house, or holding something in their lap while you drive there. I sincerely do need their help sometimes, and my kids have all loved feeling needed in this way.

Ask Questions. || So you want some private, alone time with that 9 year old? Here you go. The kid is buckled into their car seat and you have them with you for however long it takes to get where you’re going. I’ve talked about this many times before, but learn to ask leading questions and use the conversation to get to know these great young leaders in new ways.

Create a secret. || I’m not a huge fan of buying my kids junk at the store, as it breeds selfishness and begging down the road. However, there are times that stopping for a milkshake and encouraging them to drink it before we get home is a golden moment to a 7 year old. I’ve bought things when we’ve been out, let them start the ignition with the car key (with me behind the wheel), shift the car into reverse and drive, sit up front on a short drive, and pick their own music on Spotify from the iPhone. All of these things are “our secret” and they love it.

Be exceptionally patient. || With 3 kids shopping, it can be an unnerving experience sometimes, but with one kid I can afford to take my time, and let them figure out things on their own. Maybe this is my issue alone, but I find it much easier to slow down when only having one kid at a time on an adventure.

Here’s the real fear parents: Your kids won’t always want to go with you. I know that day is coming and it scares me to death. Join me in making the most of the time we have and leveraging every opportunity to let our kids know us and us to know them.


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