Monday, February 8, 2016

The Why and How of Parent/Child Dates

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Each month, we do one-on-one dates with our children. We have one parent with one child. I think this is such a valuable thing that I have dedicated a tab on this blog entirely do date ideas. You can go there to see what we have done with our children (starting in January of 2015). 

We want to have strong relationships with each of our children as individuals. We want to take the time to get away from distractions at home and just focus on each other. When my husband is out with one of our kids, I make it a point to not contact him unless it is an emergency. We are getting to know our child better. We are showing that child that we think he/she is important enough that we will give our focus to just that child. 

A bonus of this is that our children are able to participate in activities that they have an interst in that we might not do as a family. Fore example, McKenna loves gymnastics. The rest of the kids have little to no interest in it. I can take her to a meet and we will enjoy it without other kids complaining and asking when we can leave. It can also help economically. It is expensive to take the entire family to a musical. We tend to go about once a year as a family. Kaitlyn absolutely loves musicals. I am able to take her to multiple shows a year. If we only went as a family, she wouldn't be able to see as many as she does. The age difference between Brayden and Brinley is six years. What is fun to Brayden can be very different from what is fun to Brinley. By taking the on individual dates, we can do things age appropriate for each child at times.

Brinley and I spend a good chunk of our waking hours together each day--just her and me. Even so, when it is my month with her, we do a date. She loves it. We have never done anything fancy or amazing (in my mind), but it being called a date lights her up and sends her into giggles. Children feel loved when you are willing to spend special time with them that they know is dedicated to them.


I think most parents hear the idea of a one-on-one date and think it sounds like a great idea overall, but many wonder how do you actually pull that off?
  1. Do it as frequently as makes sense. Each child goes on one date each month. This month, I have Brayden and Kaitlyn and Nate has McKenna and Brinley. Next month, we will swap. We would have a hard time each fitting each child in each month, and I don't feel like each child needs two dates each month. 

    You might have a larger family or more limited time available and do it less often--maybe each child goes every other month.
  2. Don't feel like you have to spend money. Dates can be free or little to no cost. Get creative. Kids love spending time with their parents more than anything else. You can have a budget for each date or for the year per child and allocate it out. Remember, time spent is the most important. 
  3. Plan at the beginning of the month. We have had this tradition and plan since Brayden was old enough to make it happen. I wrote about it 6 years ago. As life got busier and we got more kids, it got harder to pull off. Last year, I made it a resolution. We found we had to plan the activity and the day basically on the first of each month or it just wouldn't happen. It had to go on the schedule. You always think in your head that you will have more time in a week or two, but you just don't. It needs to be a priority and on your schedule just like anything else you want to do. 
  4. Don't be afraid to do the same thing over and over. Almost every date Nate and Brinley went on last year was to the duck pond. She LOVED it. Our duck pond is now a sheet of ice and she is sad she can't do the ducks right now. Kids don't mind repetition. You can make things your own special tradition. 

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