Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Friday Funwheel

At the beginning of the previous school year I made the decision to start picking up my daughter, JulieAnna, from school every Friday. I wanted to carve out time to have intentional and meaningful conversations with her one-on-one. Every Friday I would wait in the eternally-long car line to pick her up from school and we would go to get ice cream at a nearby restaurant or frozen yogurt shop. Though it was not good on my waistline, I loved the interactions with my beautifully silly little girl.

In one of the many conversations over ice cream, I asked my daughter a question I ask myself and a lot of other people.

"JulieAnna, if your life is a story, and this year is a chapter in that story, what would you like to happen this chapter?"

JulieAnna thought for a moment as she took a big bite of the nasty concoction of the candy-laced frozen yogurt.

"I think I'd like to go to Honduras," she replied with her mouth full.

"Honduras?" I questioned.

"Yeah, you all have been, and I really want to help people."

I was stunned. Out of all the things my, then nine-year-old, daughter could dream up, she chose a mission trip to Honduras. The conversations were rich for the following weeks, as I explained to her how stories work. I explained it would take a lot of work and money, but promised her we would get her to Honduras at some point.

Though she hasn't gone yet, I will never forget the special talks we have had since then. I realized early on that it wasn't the ice cream that was important, but the opportunity the ice cream gave me with my daughter.

This year my son, Sawyer, started kindergarten. I wanted to follow through and continue on our Friday tradition of ice cream, but thought it might be better to shake things up a bit. I told Patience I wanted the kids to remember me picking them up from school. And not for the same reason I remember my Dad picking us up; which was the squealing brakes of his old faded blue station wagon. I wanted to create something memorable for my children to associate with me and our times together Fridays after school.
I knew I wanted to make something that would give them a chance to do different things besides only stuffing their faces with frozen yogurt each week. My first thought was to draw something out of a hat. That sounded boring to me though. I needed something fun… and so I created the Friday Funwheel. (You are probably starting to recognize I incorporate the word “fun” into a lot of things!)
This little cardboard spinning wheel was a creative way to shake up our Fridays after school. Both kids, with full smiles, now run to my car at the end of their school week, and cannot wait to see what the spinner will land on. Every activity on the wheel is relatively inexpensive; remember the important part is the quality time with your kids, not what you are doing.
Since the inception of the Friday Funwheel I have had a handful of parents interested in making one for their own kids. I decided to design a simple printable PDF  so anybody can download the wheel for free. Please feel free to share it with friends, and post the outcomes. I would love to see the pictures of the fun your family conjures up by using this idea. You have until Friday to get a wheel made. Please make it your own, and remember to make the most of your time together. 

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