Last month we wrote about how we as moms have worked to carve out time for one-on-one mommy dates. In honor of Father’s Day, however, it seemed turnabout was fair play. And although we can hear your polite chuckles of disbelief from here, we’re going to suggest breakfast as the perfect time for these dates.
My husband has been taking my kids, one-on-one, to breakfast for years. He used to work close to home and had a more flexible schedule that allowed him to get into the office just after 9. Once a week he took our then 5-year-old son to play chess at a local coffee place before school. Another day, he took our second grader. They don't have a ton of time to play, and we don't envision that in the 45 minutes we are grooming some sort of grand master. But the subway ride there, the short walk to the cafe and then back to school, gives our younger kids time outside of the chaos of dinner to be heard. Getting together over an activity, whether it’s reading a book, playing a specific game, or building some skill, allows them to bond in a way that sometimes just being together doesn’t.
It’s not like morning isn’t the insane, yelling at everybody, run around the house time at our place like it is for everyone else. But it still serves as a better time to eke out a few minutes of quality time than the evening. Even if it means he misses dinner because he has to work late, the breakfast time allows for a more significant connection than those few minutes before bed when no one (parents included) is at their best. The best part? It’s the one day a week when we don’t have to drag the kids out of bed and stand over them every second to make sure they’re getting moving. They’d get up at any time and they’ll get dressed in seconds on daddy breakfast days.
Not everyone has a flexible schedule, but one morning a week, or even once a month, is time well spent. Indeed, my husband now commutes over an hour a day, so he’s usually gone before 7 am. But once in awhile, when he has an obligation at school or a meeting in the city, he still manages to grab some time. It's great to just get a bite to eat, but even better that they share a special project between the two of them. There's not the awkward, how are things going question greeted by the conversation ending, "not much." It could be chess, learning the Rubik’s cube, or reading a book together. The specifics aren't important, but it's about building an ongoing point of connection that they can pick up at any point where they left off on the weekend or before bedtime.
With each morning, they’re creating a tradition. They’re deposits in the memory vault of their childhood. It’s easy to see them replicating this ritual when they have kids of their own. And they remind us that these every day family moments can be keepsakes, too.