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  • by Barb (Edtl) Shelton

Planning-Ahead Dates

Most people's lives are laden with busyness, especially in the years with children at home. Work, (home)school, summer, vacation, managing a household, new babies, meals... it all adds up and makes for full-to-overflowing lives! What busy couple would refuse a DATE of any kind, especially one paid for by you?!?

Toward the end of any given year, we start seeing articles about starting out the new year, setting goals, reevaluating and making new plans. This gave me an idea... which I turned into an actual gift to all three of our kid-couples...

I told each of them that I wanted to give them three hours during which time I'd babysit the grandpunkins so that the two of them could go out on a coffee date as a couple and have some focused time to look ahead to the coming year and think about what they want the coming months to hold for them.

It could include anything they wanted – financial goals, parenting goals, spiritual goals – goals in any area they deemed important! "I just want you to have some undistracted time to talk and plan, kid-free, and enjoy it and each other!"

Gift cards for coffee included.

Pretty much an offer they couldn't refuse!

But this blessing can be given any time of the year! No reason for it to be limited to the New Year! You can do this for your recipients:

  • In March, April, you could send them on a "Summer Planning" date.

  • In June or July, send them on a "Mid-Year Reassessment Date."

  • Or send them on a "Christmas Season Planning Date" in August or September!

  • Or if they have a particularly busy time of year ~ like Sam and Sharn have pre-recital season before the mid-May recitals ~ send them on a "Pre-Busy-Season Date" so they can think through how to handle the extra "weight" of the coming season, and get through it with the greatest of ease and the least stress!

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Here are Tory and Chrissy (our son and daughter-in-love) on their coffee shop date...

Chrissy and Tory  /  Looking Ahead to the New Year Dates  /

Their topics of focus were discussing the year's budget, saving for the boys' college, refilling their emergency fund, saving for retirement, and saving for a vacation to Hawaii. Good stuff! (Can you tell they are "savers"? They are amazing at this!)




The next year ~ 2017 ~ I got a bit fancier about it. I love making certificates, so I rolled the whole idea into these three certificates that I created for them:

All three 3 Blessing Certificates  /  Looking Ahead to the New Year Dates  /

Here's how the basic document looks... And yes, of course, I'll be giving you FREE PRINTABLES at the end of this post!

Blessing Certificate Sample  /  Looking Ahead to the New Year Dates  /





Here's what Sharnessa posted on Facebook about their date last year when she and Sam went on theirs:

"Sipping delightful salted caramel/hazelnut latte's while 2016-planning, dreaming, and visioneering with this treasure of a hubby💕 ... Thanks for encouraging and facilitating this, Momma/Barb!! And for watching the boysies! AND sending us off with coffee money! Sheesh!! You're amazing💗"

Sam and Sharnessa on the latest Planning-ahead date they went on, doing some ~ as they call it ~ "visioneering."

And here are Sharn's subsequent hashtags, which are actually comprise some sweet add-on's to the story! (I took the liberty of separating the words in the hashtags so you could more easily read them.)

#lets do this thing

#2016 here we come

#so excited for whats to come

#far beyond what we could

think ask or imagine

#Your kingdom come

#Your will be done

#on earth as it is in heaven

#terrible lighting on my face

but what are ya gonna do

And here's what Sharnessa shared on Facebook in 2017:

"My momma is so cute and creative and simply the best. Not only has she followed suit with what my beautiful Gramma Shelton started ~ and did faithfully with us Shelton kids growing up ~ by having her own weekly Gramma's Day with our boys, (and a miiiiiiiiiiiiillion other things she and my dad do,) but she and Dad ALSO started this thing at the beginning of last year where they give us three couples our own "certificates" (see below) where they take the boys for three hours and send us off on a "vision-casting/dreaming" date for the new year, AND pay for our coffee to boot. Sigh... so thoughtful and amazing and above-and-beyond. So grateful💕"

Sam & Sharn's Blessing Certificate / Looking Ahead to the New Year Dates /



These two, our youngest, had a productive time getting on the same page with goals and direction for the coming year. They don't have children to be taken care of, which is why the wording of their certificate does not include child care. Their topics of focus were:

  • direction for their band, Willow Grove, regarding shows, touring, and recording

  • how to budget their joint incomes

  • what they want to do to get healthy; specifically ways they want to eat more healthfully and exercise, and...

  • budgeting their time, including syncing their calendars so they can be more efficient in making decisions where time is an issue.

Carlianne and CJ in their living room / Looking Ahead to the New Year Dates  /

(Carlianne is actually happy

here, and in life in general; she just

seems to like this expression.)





So now let's get you set up with the tools to make your own certificate for whomever you want to give this planning-ahead blessing!

I have made two versions of the FREE PRINTABLE. One is for those of you who have Word, which can be edited; the other is the PDF file (for which you need Adobe Reader) which you can not edit.

Printable Certificate:

(editable, but not stable)

(not editable, but stable)

(If you'd like me to tweak something that you're not able to tweak, please let me know! I wouldn't want anyone to have to go Blessing-Certificateless!)

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