I never went on dates with my Dad or Mom. Not that I feel deprived, it just wasn't something that was done in our house. My husband has always done what he could to take the kids out for a bit so I got a break, but it wasn't until he entered full-time ministry last year that he was able to finally take the kids on dates.
Each week my husband takes one of the kids on a lunch date. Nothing fancy, just some place of their choosing (sometimes with a little coaching) and some one-on-one time with Dad. We are blessed that my husband has a semi-flexible job that allows him to take them to lunch once a week. We have 4 children, so they rotate one a week. And the kids absolutely love it. They know when their week is, because we go in birth order – and they can't wait for “their day.” It really has become a such a special time not only for the kids, but also my husband. Since I spend every day at home with them, this gives him an opportunity to get out with them and just talk about what they want to know or share with him.
There were several reasons we started Daddy dates in our house.
- Gives them that all important one-on-one time with Dad
- Makes them feel special – because they are!
- The kids get out of the house for more than the usual activities
- Daddy gets out of the house for more than just work
- You get to know each other through uninterrupted conversations
You don't have to spend a lot of money on them for them to feel special. While that may be nice every once-in-a-while, you don't have to go overboard. They love you because you are Mom and Dad. But, over the last year we have discovered a few things that may help you when deciding to start regular parent-child dates in your house. First, try going to lunch rather than dinner. Most places have a cheaper lunch menu and the portions are smaller too! If you can't do lunches aim for the Kids Eat Free nights!! Second, let them pick the place. Occasionally my husband may guide them in a different direction (for instance all our children pick the Mexican food restaurant every week) so that he doesn't eat the same thing all the time. Third, NO CELL PHONES or technology of any kind. Now, I realize some people are on-call or need their cell phones on – that's fine. But, I'm talking about sitting on the cell phone either talking to someone or browsing Facebook or playing a game rather than engaging with your child – NO, NO. And last but certainly not least, don't “talk shop” with others. This is a date. Now, it's okay to engage in conversations and chat with people you see and know – in fact, I encourage it. But, it's not okay to engage in a lengthy debate or conversation about work while your child is sitting there. Politely tell the person you would love to talk to them, but right now you are on a date with your son/daughter. Remember, this IS important to your child and when you put them first you show them they are important too. Yes, some people may be offended, but it's more important that you set that time aside for you and the child. If you were on a date with your spouse, you wouldn't spend an hour talking to someone else and putting your spouse on the back-burner. So, don't do it to your child either.
Parent-Child Date Night Ideas
1. Take advantage of the $1 movies. Many theaters offer $1 movies in the morning during the summer. If that works for you, go for it!
2. Chick-fil-a has Daddy-Daughter nights and Mother-Son nights. Take advantage of them. They do a great job!!
3. Nature walks are a great way to learn more about your kids, as they will freely talk to you when you walk.
4. Go miniature golfing
5. Take a class together – cooking, pottery
6. Go for FROYO
7. Take a trip to the Zoo
8. Find a candy store and pick out your favorites
9. Go for coffee – this may seem strange, but I have 2 kids that absolutely love coffee.
10. Go to a Cabela's or Bass Pro and walk around looking at all the animals.
11. Have a slumber party – mother/daughter, father/son
12. Game night at home
13. Netflix movie night
14. Redbox movie night
15. Go for ice cream
16. Ice skating
19. Go to a museum – or better yet, a Children's museum
20. Take a bike ride together
21. Have a Wii tournament with their favorite games
22. Color together
23. Go to the park
24. Go to the pool
25. Mani-Pedi's – at home or splurge if you can
26. Tea Party
27. Watch a girl movie
28. Dress up as princesses
29. Do each other's make-up
30. Attend a Michael's Craft Class
31. Play video games with him
32. Create a Lego city or creation together
33. Play Star Wars, Cowboys, Pirates – whatever they are in to
34. Attend a Home Depot Class together
Several other points I would like to make is that this is a wonderful time for Fathers to show their daughters how they should be treated. Bring them a special flower or rose when you go on your dates. You don't have to every time, but every so often would be a special treat and show them just how much you care. Mother's – encourage your sons to open the doors for you and pull out your chair for you to sit. It may not seem that important, but it really is. These dates are the perfect time to set those expectations and show the girls how they should be treated by a man (many, many years down the road) and how the boys need to treat ladies (years in the future).
One thing my husband and I found difficult was making conversation with our younger children. I mean, there's only so much you can do while sitting there watching your 1yr old eat. But, talking to them and engaging with them is still so important. There are times I've found it hard to talk to my oldest too. So, I created some fun Conversation Starter Cards for you all. Simply click the picture below to download yours instantly.