How (and Why) I Date My Kids
by Kerrie McLoughlin
It all started after my youngest son was born and spent some time in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). If I wasn’t at the hospital, I was a stressball at home, so I decided one day to start taking my three oldest kids out on a date. My then-two-year-old considered a trip to the grocery store alone with me to be a fun date, so I figured the age four and up crowd would be the best candidates for a couple of hours on the town with Mommy.
Date Number One was with my oldest son, age 10. We couldn’t play a game of Pokemon cards without being interrupted 27 times, so we took our card decks and headed out. First we ate lunch at Olive Garden, then went for frozen yogurt at a place with large tables where we could play our game. He shared all kinds of thoughts with me that I will always treasure.
Date Number Two was with my second son, age 8. He chose Red Robin for his restaurant, and we played tic-tac-toe and drew silly pictures on the paper placemats. I joked for him to tell me his hopes, dreams and goals, and we had a great conversation about life in general. Later we grabbed some cookies and went to a park.
Date Number Three was with my oldest daughter, age 6. She chose a local restaurant where we could get some blueberry pancakes and hot chocolate. We colored on placemats and did lots of giggling. Then we went to a beauty school so she could get her first haircut.
For each date, we took Daddy’s truck instead of our usual mommyvan transportation, and we took the camera to snap lots of pictures. Sometimes we eat, sometimes each child might get a little gift, and sometimes we spend no money at all. You could make your date extravagant (go to a water park all day then have dinner out) or go simple (head to the park for an hour). My big rule is that you have to get out of the house so you aren’t distracted by phone, mail, dishes or laundry.
I love how I get to know each of my kids better when we go on our dates. They tell me things they might not tell me while their siblings are around, and I get to savor every word. We get to build a relationship based on more than day-to-day interactions like chores, meals, homework and activities. It’s easy to get into a relationship rut with your kids just as you can do with a friendship or a marriage.
Sometimes I plan our dates, sometimes my kids plan them, but we try to do something different every time. The sky’s the limit, but here are a few ideas to get you started depending on your child’s interests (we keep an ongoing list on the fridge):
· Go swimming at an indoor pool in the winter
· Go to a museum or children’s museum
· Drive go-karts
· Try geocaching
· Head to the zoo or nature center
· Take a board or card game to a coffeehouse and play while enjoying a treat and conversation
Whether you have one child or 10, going on a one-on-one date with him every now and then will be an important and special experience for both of you. As my kids get older I look forward to day-long dates with each of them. Dates aren’t always easy to fit onto the calendar, but they are always worth it. Repeat as often as necessary!
Kerrie McLoughlin (TheKerrieShow.com) loves going out on dates with her kids and wants to hear your kid-dating stories!