Though I stay home with my 2 boys and am with them 24/7 I often feel like I don’t spend enough one on one time with my oldest. He is a really independent and generous little boy and never complains about having his little brother around or sharing with him, but with my youngest being only 16 months he takes up a lot of my time leaving my 4 year old to “share” me nearly all the time. I want to make sure he feels special and has that special alone time with me as well, so we set up monthly date nights.
I came up with a list of ideas and then printed out cards with pictures. I then placed the cards in a jar and once a month on the day we choose my little gets to pick an idea out of the jar and that is what we do. It keeps it fun and exciting since neither of us know what it is going to be. We always make it a last minute thing since my kiddo is 4 and we never know how he will be behaving. If he is super whinny and just not listening that day no way I am taking him out. Also, our schedule tends to change often so I don’t want to get his hopes up and then for some reason not be able to go that day. Lastly, anyone with little kids knows they have no concept of time so if we had a date scheduled for middle of the month I would be asked multiple times a day everyday if it was time yet.
I picked ideas of all price ranges and styles to keep things fun and engaging. Then we needed a couple simple ground rules to keep things running smoothly. It is suppose to be fun so too many restrictions will put a damper on that.
- We make sure that each date is a minimum of 30 minutes not including travel time
- Dates take place away from the house, so he can have my full attention. If I am at home something else will come up, it always does.
- I don’t generally play on my phone, but if you do it needs to be put away for the entirety of the date so your attention is 100% focused.
- Since we live 30 minutes out of town I often combine a couple errands with the date night, which is fine since you are still spending alone time, but make sure to make the activity more enjoyable to them. For instance let them push the cart, check off the list, or help find the item at the store you need. We often play eye spy or make up songs to keep it fun and light and I try to keep my errands quick.
We look forward to date night each month and with only 2 kids it works out pretty perfect since both are getting one on one time with a parent. You can rotate between mom and dad every month or you can add in an extra date so he has alone time with each parent.
Spending one on one time with your kids is so special to them and moments you will never regret. You are not only making memories they will remember for a lifetime you are also making each child feel uniquely special and loved. They grow much too fast so soak up all the time you can with them.
My list of dates is made for my very active 4 year old. We only do things I know he will be able to sit through and enjoy, but these will work for all different ages and both sons and daughters. For the best success stick to things you know or think your kiddo will enjoy.
Date Night Ideas
- Trip to frozen yogurt
- Go to library and read a bunch of children’s books
- Go bowling
- Go to the movies
- Go roller-skating
- Go ice-skating
- Play at the park and have a picnic
- Go to a museum
- Go on a nature hike and scavenger hunt
- Go to the zoo
- Go out for fast food and play at the play place
- Go to miniature golf
- Visit the local fire station and take a tour (we are lucky to have a free fire museum in our city, but if not most firefighters are happy to show little ones around)
- Go to a baseball game
- Go to a hockey game
- Go to the swimming pool or splash pad
- Go fishing at your local park/pond
- Go apple or berry picking (seasonal)
- Go to an arcade and play some games together
- Go to a rock climbing gym
Other Ideas We Haven’t Tried Yet
As my son gets older and his interests change these are some ideas I would like to try.
- Batting cages
- laser tag
- Go to a play- no way my son would sit through one right now
- Go out to a sit down dinner- right now this is just boring to him
- Go on a bike ride
- Take a dance class, fitness class, or karate class together
- Go on a road trip. Let them pick a location (within the distance you are ok driving). Then let them help read the map or GPS to get you there. Once there find something local to do! If you see any historic landmarks or fun things to do on the way go for it.
- Go to a trampoline park
- Go to a paint ball park
- Let them come up with an idea. Kids know what they want to do better than anyone, so when they are old enough just ask them. Chances are they will come up with something you never thought of.
Tips and Tricks
- Adjust your date nights to fit your budget. If you don’t have much or any to spend that month make sure to take out any ideas that would put you over your budget.
- Keep an eye on Groupon or other discount and coupon sites. You can often find local activities and food coupons for a fraction of the cost. Most of these coupons last at least a year so you can buy it on sale and have it on hand when that activity is picked.
- Instead of asking for toys for your kiddo’s birthday and Christmas ask for gift cards to frozen yogurt, restaurants they like, or activities such as movie tickets or mini-golf.
- If trying something new for the first time keep the cost low that way if your child is miserable you can leave early and won’t feel bad for being out the money. For example: I thought my son would love the Circus, boy was I wrong! He hated every second of it, but I had spent so much on tickets I couldn’t stomach the thought of leaving early so I made him wait it out, which basically made us all miserable.
- Prepare for as much as you can ahead of time. For example if you have a scavenger hunt as one of your activities make the list up and put it with a bag and other needed materials ahead of time. You won’t want to spend an hour preparing things before the date. Or if you have baseball game as an option print out a list of home games. If there isn’t a game on the day you have chosen take that option out of the jar.
- Use your resources. If you have a gym membership that has a pool or offers special classes take advantage of it. Keep an eye on local mom Facebook sights for free days or special kid activities. Get on google and research your local library, museums,churches, and chamber of commerce. Most of these places schedule special activities that are almost always free.
- Regardless of what you are doing the most important thing is spending time with your child and giving them your full attention. Make sure you keep it upbeat and exciting and do your best to be in an amazing mood. Kids play off our emotions so if you act bored or uninterested they will too.
I would love to hear any ideas or suggestion you have as our list is always growing and changing!
We also implement the same ideas into mommy/daddy date nights! Post about that coming soon.