Our parent hearts need to be connected to our children. A large part of the parenting journey is getting to know what makes our children tick, what makes them happy, or upset, what they’re passionate about, where they struggle, and where their strengths lie.
If you have more than one child, you may find you have difficulty finding time to really get into the heart of these areas. With 4 kids in our family, we definitely have to plan intentional time for one-on-one, and planning a special date time with your kids is a great way to do it!
Too often when we think of dates, even as a husband and wife, we think it needs to be elaborate, fancy, super special, or include “going out” somewhere. But in reality, the purpose behind dating someone is to spend undistracted, intentional time together. This can really be accomplished ANYWHERE!
The first step to planning special dates with your kids is to take a look at your availability. If you have one or a couple children, you may be able to plan something quite regularly. However, if you have a lot of kids (such as in our family!), your dates may need to be further apart in occurrence.
As a couple, settle on and commit to planning out the dates with your kids, and determine whether you will both be present, or take turns. While having both parents there is a truly extra special time, it may not always be feasible. Just make sure you’re BOTH getting one-on-one with your kiddo!
Next, decide what kind of dates you will go on with your kids. You may take them out for a donut, or dinner, to a movie, or a special park. Or you may simply stay in and play a game together, read a book, or let them stay up later and just talk. Base it on your budget availability, both for time and cost.
The main thing is that you’re focusing on engaging your child in an activity or conversation in which there is no one else around to pull your attention away from them. To have some fun together, and to get to know them more and more.
Now if you’re saying “As much as I want to do this, I seriously don’t have ANY extra time!”, don’t be discouraged or give up! Even taking a trip to the grocery store with just one child instead of by yourself or the whole crew could be a fun opportunity together. Get creative with the resources you have available to you.
Our kids are 8 1/2, 7, 4 1/2 and 13 months. We’ve taken them out to the coffee shop, grocery store, Home Depot, birthday breakfasts and lunches, skiing, skating, swimming, bike rides and park dates. We’ve stayed in and played a game, done a puzzle, read a book, and just sat around and talked. We’ve spent hours together, or just 30 minutes of concentrated, undivided attention. As much as possible, our goal is to have a date time of some sort with them every other month.
The joy of having a relationship with our sons and daughters can sometimes be overshadowed by the weariness we feel through the daily parenting, teaching, leading, instructing and disciplining.
When we take the time to date our children, we renew the joy, strengthen our connection, open up our hearts to each other and allow God to draw us closer together. It gives us cause to rejoice as we see who our children are, and are becoming, apart from others, as individuals.
Let’s open up in the comments and share our successes and ideas for dating our kids. Here are some of our favourites!
- Skating at a free outdoor rink, hot chocolate and a donut after
- Gathering supplies for a craft or handiwork project and working on it together
- Go on a scavenger hunt (book stores or libraries are great for this, or just look for specific things around your town)
- Plan a special meal or dish to make, shop for the ingredients and create together
- Play a game or read a book and discuss together
- Go to the mall, or their favourite stores, get a treat, try all the sample teas at Teavana
- Watch a movie at home or in the theater
- Take them out for a special meal on their birthday (daddy does this for breakfast or lunch, the kids LOVE it!)
- Do an outdoor sport of some sort (skiing, snowboarding, biking, rollerblading, skate boarding, paint balling, canoeing, whatever!)
- Go on a trail hike and/or picnic
- See a sporting event, play or concert together
- Ask your kids what they want to do!
How have you made kid-dates work? What creative ideas have you put into practice to spend time pursuing the heart of your child?
Check out this Dates Ideas Pinterest board for some more great ideas!