Have you ever wanted to just check out as a parent and take the night off? Wanted the kids to take care of themselves even if just for a few hours? Well, now you can! If your kid is old enough to make their own sandwich or use the microwave, I encourage you to read on.
I was recently away for a convention and met this really nice couple. As we were talking they mentioned something they put into action in their home that I loved. It’s called Fend for Yourself Fridays. What this equals for this couple is this: they spend each Friday evening just the two of them, out on their pool patio. They make dinner, maybe have a glass of wine, watch TV, play a game, talk about their week, and most of all enjoy each other’s company. Not so unusual right? The part that got me was that their kids are not allowed to interrupt for anything, barring an emergency. The kids are required to make whatever they would like for dinner on their own. Keep themselves occupied. Manage their own issues without their parents. Get themselves to bed. Basically, they are asked to fend for themselves.
Why do I love this, you might be asking? Well, there are several reasons. First, this is a great way to help your kids learn to be more independent. By having to make their own meal, keep themselves busy, and manage any disagreements on their own, they are learning skills they will need to be successful in their lives. All while mom and dad are on the premises in case they are needed. It teaches the kids how to figure things out on their own. When kids figure out how to do things on their own they build resiliency. When kids are resilient they have a strong sense of self and good self esteem. So see, by taking time for you, you are helping them. Its a win-win.
Another reason I love Fend for Yourself Fridays is that it says to the kids that the parents value their marriage and relationship enough to make it a priority. They are showing their kids and each other that spending quality time together is important. So many parents fit in time for their marriages around their kids’ schedule, only if there is time. Well, as a counselor who works with kids, I know kids have busy schedules these days so, waiting for an opening doesn’t always work. You have to make time, and by making time to reconnect with your spouse on a weekly basis you are showing your kids what it takes to maintain a healthy marriage. Marriage is work; parenting is work. Taking this time for yourself as a couple give parents a chance to touch base about whats working, or not, in both their marriages and as parents. It gives them time to plan for the week ahead and just tune into one another. How can this be a bad thing?
As you are reading this, are you saying things like “My kids can’t fend for themselves! They would burn down the house or kill each other if we were not in the home to supervise.”? I hear you! That’s why you are just going to be on the back patio (if you have one) or sequestered in your bedroom or dining room. I’m just suggesting you give your kids the opportunity to build resiliency and show you they can manage one night in without you or a babysitter. Give it a try, and see how it goes. It might just be what the entire family needed.
If the thought of letting your kid fend for themselves seems unbearable, it might be helpful to talk it through with one of our skilled counselors at Life Skills Resource Group. We understand that making time for yourself might be a new concept that will take time to fully implement. We can help you take baby steps if that’s what you need. We will partner with you to help you implement Fend for Yourself Fridays in a way that works for you.
Our goal is to support your family across the lifespan and to help everyone become the healthiest and happiest individuals possible. Call us at 407-355-7378 to schedule a free phone consultation.