Why I’m Going on Dates With My Kids (and Why You Should Too!)
I’ve written before about the importance of “me” time and couples taking a break from their parenting life to spend quality time together. Here is why I think both are so important: taking time on your own or with your spouse, to de-stress and do something you enjoy, not only helps bring more happiness within yourself, but also in your relationship as a couple. It can have a domino effect – happy individual, happy couple, happy family.
But what about having quality, one-on-one time with your kids? Is this not equally important to “me” time or a night out with your spouse? I believe it is, and that is the reason I want to discuss why I think it is important to date your kids.
Now before your head spins, obviously I don’t mean date in the romantic sense. However, take a moment to think about why people date (romance aside). Two people who have just met will go on date as a way to get to know each other, or in the case of a couple who have been together for a while, they will go on a date to strengthen their already established bond.
As parents I think it is essential to the relationship with your kids to continue getting to know them and strengthening your bond with them. Family life can be hectic, between work, school or daycare, cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, homework, sports or extra-curricular activities, the list goes on – while you may all be seeing each other every day, how much of that is quality time?
I don’t know about you, but in my household it is very common for my kids to want my attention right when I am in the middle of doing something, whether it’s getting ready to go to work, making dinner, or doing a load of laundry. Our busy everyday life doesn’t always allow for me to spend enough individual time with my son and daughter, and lately it seems my kids have been showing me that this is something they want more of.
And so, I made the decision that every once in a while I need to drop everything and just hang out with my kids, whether it’s in the moment or planned. I am definitely glad that I’ve taken more opportunities to spend quality time with my son and daughter. By doing so I have been learning more about the personalities and interests they are developing. As parents we always believe that we know our kids best. And while this is true, spending quality time to really get to know who our children are also gives us a stronger bond with them.
Here are some great “date” ideas that parents and kids can enjoy together:
- Movie time! Plan an afternoon matinee at the theatre or catch a flick in the comfort of your own home. Get your child involved in picking the movie and snacks. Sit together afterward and talk about the movie. Ask you kids what their favourite part was and share yours.
- Take a walk to your local playground, or maybe drive to one a bit further away that perhaps you and your child have never been to before and explore. Get on those slides and swings with your kids! Let loose and be a kid again!
- Grab a board game, dominoes or playing cards! A little friendly competition can be loads of fun!
- Visit your local library. Browse the book shelves together, find somewhere to sit and read. Perhaps you can pick some books to take home to read together. Also, find out ahead of time what else your local library has to offer. Perhaps there is a family story time or workshop you can attend together.
- Go shopping! Take your child to the store to select a new outfit or perhaps treat them to a new toy, book or game. It might be good to decide ahead of time on a budget with your child. This could help avoid potential meltdowns in the store if they pick something over budget without knowing and have to be told they cannot have it. The goal is to have a pleasant shopping experience!
- Go on a breakfast, lunch or dinner date. Involve your kid in picking the restaurant. Take this opportunity to talk to them about what they are learning in school, or perhaps share stories from your childhood that they may not have heard before. If doing an entire meal might be a bit much, especially for toddler-aged kids, maybe do an outing for a little ice cream, a cookie or donut treat at a local ice cream, coffee shop or bakery.
- Speaking of tasty treats, why not do some baking together at home? Pick a favourite recipe to make and use the opportunity to teach your child how to follow a recipe. Don’t worry about the mess! Make the clean up afterward into something fun you can do together. And don’t forget to enjoy your baked goodies with a nice glass of milk!
- Have a picnic! Pack up some snacks or lunch and a blanket and head to the park. Or if it’s a rainy day, set up a picnic in your family room.
- Build a fort! Grab some blankets and other household items and make a fort together. Once it’s built find some toys or games to bring in to play together. Or perhaps grab a bunch of pillows to lay back and relax.
- Join a class together. Check out what there is in your community that you and your kids can join together. Perhaps a yoga class or another type of fitness class, or maybe a cooking or art class.
Find out your options and make the selection together. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone! It could be a great example for your kids.