My husband and I have resolved to be more intentional with each of our three children this year, making time for solo “dates.” This season of life is crazy, and we are often either dividing and conquering in order to get it all done or joining forces because we’re outnumbered. To be honest, carving out the time for dating our kids can seem like a lot of extra work. But we also know that spending individual, one-on-one time with each of our children is important.
My children love nothing more than to have Mommy or Daddy’s full attention to themselves; I took my five-year-old to breakfast after a dental procedure, and she still talks about it six months after the fact. While our kids are happy to tag along on something as mundane as a trip to the grocery store and we try to be intentional with them on a daily basis, we see these dates as an opportunity to go deeper, building lasting connections with our children.
The kids usually have their own ideas of what they want to do with either of us when asked, and they are almost always pretty simple: make a craft, go for a bike ride, etc. But we also like to surprise them with special outings and activities. Some ideas we’ve either done or would like to do include:
- Get a manicure and/or pedicure.
- Enjoy a favorite activity: rock climbing, a craft or painting class (the free ones at The Home Depot are awesome), swimming, fishing, go-karting.
- Go get ice cream, coffee, or breakfast.
- Make a favorite dinner or bake together.
- Go on a trip— just one kid and one parent!
- Participate in a fun run. There are a variety of low-key 5K walk/runs that cater to families.
- Go on a special outing. This varies according to each kid’s interests and age, and we like to do the big things (such as go to Disney on Ice) around their birthdays. But these don’t have to be expensive; there are a lot of great, free things to do with your kids as well.
- Go on a shopping trip to buy a birthday gift or items for someone in need. My children have no problem expressing all the things they want. In an effort to help them think about other people, we like to bring them along to choose a birthday gift for their siblings and friends, or when we’re purchasing things like toys for Operation Christmas Child boxes or school supplies for underprivileged children.
- Serve together. This is related to the above, but getting our kids out of their bubble and helping others is a priority in our family.
- Attend a “fancy” event. Our oldest loves going to any special event that requires dressing up. We’ve done everything from baby showers to Christmas teas to a Daddy-Daughter dance, and they’re always memorable.
Dating our kids doesn’t have to be costly or require a lot of planning. And whether you have one or five, you’ll never regret making the effort to establish meaningful, lasting connections with your children. We’ve all heard that kids spell “love” as “T- I- M- E,” and while it may be cliché, it’s also true.