I love taking my kids on dates. I have a five-year-old and a two-year-old with one due to join us in June! I consider anything to be a “date” when I get to take just one of my children on an outing with me. We don’t always do something extravagant. Usually our dates consist of going to Target for a few things, getting lunch at their favorite spot, toddler time at a trampoline park or going to get a drink at Quik Trip.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are a few reasons why I think it’s important to take my children on dates:
It’s one-on-one quality time.
I get to focus on just one kiddo at a time. We don’t always plan our dates and most of the time we’re not gone very long but calling a regular outing a “date” makes it a little more fun! Going places with my five-year-old son is always an adventure. He especially loves when we get to go inside somewhere that we usually do the drive-thru (hello, chick-fil-a!) We have the funniest, most random conversations. He asks questions that not many others do like “can cats get married?” He tells me about his friends at school in more detail than he does at preschool pickup. We talk about silly things and we talk about what he thinks kindergarten will be like when he goes in the fall. When I take my daughter places, she just gets excited about being somewhere with other people she can say “hi” to. I love seeing how she feels special when she gets to select each apple we buy on her own. The flip side of going on dates, is that the other kiddo gets to stay home and have fun with Daddy or go to their aunt’s house to play with their friends. Sometimes if my husband takes one on an outing, then the other one will stay home with me and do something fun like bake cookies or build a fort. Either way, both kids get to have a fun time!
They don’t have to share me.
I’m a stay-at-home mom so my kids have to share me all day, every day. Some days I can tell when they’re getting frustrated when one of them wants to show me the cool picture they drew while the other one needs help in the bathroom. Taking them on dates gives them the time they want with just me. I’m able to focus on each child as an individual doing things they like and learning so much more about them than I do when we’re all together and my attention is divided. Things aren’t so rushed when I’m out with just one of my kids. I don’t have to stop playtime for my son to take my daughter to the bathroom and I don’t have to stop playtime for my daughter if my son is ready to go. I can let my son scan our groceries at the self-checkout instead of rushing through it all before my daughter tries to catapult herself from the cart. Sometimes the best part about these dates are when the kids get a slower, calmer, more patient mom.
We work on social skills.
Being in public with one child allows us to teach them more. I started taking my son on little dates right before he became a big brother. He learned to help choose what he wanted to eat and make eye-contact with our waiter to order what he wanted. My daughter isn’t quite as shy so we’re just working on not yelling that she wants macaroni to our waiter. My husband and I are trying to raise our children to be kind people so when we go places, they practice holding the door open for others and being polite. Right now, my son really loves when I hand him my debit card or cash so “he” can pay for lunch or our Quik Trip drinks. Then we talk about budgeting and how much money we have to spend and how much different things cost. There are so many life lessons to be learned and there are so many little ways to teach them doing every day things.
Life gets busy and it’s easier to just go through the motions, but I think it’s so important to slow down and take our kids on dates. It’s such a simple way to strengthen our bond with them. I know these kinds of simple things won’t always be as exciting or create the magical feelings for my kids that they do now, but I hope that they remember how we always made the effort to do fun things and how they felt special.