We all know we love our date nights, right? The chance to get away from the kids and reconnect with our spouses over some cocktails is a great idea. What do you do when you feel disconnected from your kids? That's when it's time to go on a date night. Here are some ideas to get you started having fun and spending time with your favorite people, your kids.
1. A Traditional Date
The best way to show you kids how to expect to be treated when they start dating is to take them on one. Go all out and do dinner and a movie. Let your daughter get all dressed up, do her hair and have Dad take her out for some Daddy/Daughter time. Have him take her to dinner and movie, hold the door open for her, pull her chair out, the whole nine yards. How else will your daughter know to expect to be treated like a lady when she's older, unless you show her that she is one now? For moms of sons like myself, take your son out on a date. Teach him to hold the door open for you and pull out your chair. Encourage him to make suggestions from the menu of what you might like. He'll love that you want his opinion on your meal. Teach your sons to be gentlemen and -- why you're doing all this teaching -- to start a conversation. Let them take the lead and talk about what they're into, even if you wind up talking about the kid that puked in class most of the meal.
NEXT: BATTER UP! -->
2. Take Up A Sport
When my husband was commuting a lot for work, he didn't have hours to devote to each child in the house, so he would take an hour each night and throw a baseball around with one of them. During that time, they would talk about whatever was on their minds, even if it was just to complain about their siblings. Pick a sport -- even if your kid hates anything remotely athletic -- and get out there and do it together, even if it's a just a nature walk.
NEXT: GET YOUR CRAFT ON! -->
3. Get Artsy Fartsy
Sometimes your county parks and rec will have classes that you can take with your child, or your town might have a place where you can make your own pottery. If all else fails, head to your local bookstore and check out Martha Stewart's Kids Craft book. There are many great ideas in there to get you started. The great thing about having a craft date with your child is that not only can you spend the time talking, but you have something tangible to keep as a reminder of your experience.
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4. Movie Night
You know when you were dating your spouse and you used to love those nights you would just order takeout and cuddle up on the couch and have a movie marathon? There's no reason why you can't do that with your kid. I have five, and we all pick a spot, get pillows and blankets, and have a Family Guy marathon. We love that time together because we can be silly.
NEXT: LET'S BOOGIE! -->
5. Get Dancing
When we were young, we went "clubbing," and danced into the wee hours of the morning. Now, I'm not suggesting you take your kid out to the club -- but with all the dance games on the market, why not have a dance marathon? If you're not into video games, you can follow my mother's suit: She would turn on the radio while she was doing her chores, and dance around the house. Turn it into a dance date by sharing your stories about the songs that mean something to you. Listen to some of the groups your kids like, and ask them why they like them. Create a dialogue, and be willing to share your stories. I can still tell you all the stories my mother told me about Motown, 20-odd years later.
NEXT: SLUMBER PARTY TIME! -->
6. Girls Only
For those of us blessed with only daughters, why not do a pajama party? Think of the Pink Ladies in Grease, sans the wine and cigarettes. Do your nails, have a pillow fight, have your daughter do your hair. Then have your daughter pick out a few girly movies and finish off the night with popcorn. Don't forget to stay up late.
NEXT: PUT 'EM TO WORK! -->
7. Just An Hour
I have five kids, and I usually feel like I never have one-on-one time with any of them. The reality is I do, but I do it in a different way. Sometimes I invite a child in to help me cook dinner, or help clean the kitchen, or even clean the house. Sharing an activity -- even something as mundane as washing the windows -- can bring you closer together. The point is to use the time to talk about something that interests them. As long as your doing that, it doesn't matter if you're washing floors: You're bonding.
NEXT: GAME ON! -->
8. Mother/Son Time
I love video games. I'm a 12-year-old boy in my heart, I say that all the time. There's nothing more fun for me than sitting down and playing a game or two on the weekend. Shooting Nazi zombies helps me unwind. I thank God for sons every day; because of them, I can feed my video game habit. It makes my day when I hear my son trash talk with his dad, saying the same things that he hears me say to him when we play -- it's like passing the torch. Nothing says "I love you" more than teaching your son the surprise attack so he can use it on his father.
NEXT: CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA? -->
9. Go Out For Drinks
Going out for a milkshake and good conversation is a simple a relatively cheap date night idea. If you can't do dairy and hate giving your kids soda like I do, head over to Starbucks and have tea together. Kids love the idea of doing anything that grownups do, so being able to sit in a coffee shop like an "adult" and making small talk will make their day, and make you feel closer.
NEXT: THEIR TURN! -->
10. Kid's Choice
A great way to feel closer to your kid is to learn what they like to do. Next time you want to go out, tell them, "We're going out on X day. Let me know what you would like to do the day before, so I can make sure we can do it." There are very few children who won't jump at the chance to plan a day or night out. Usually you won't have to wait for an answer, either.
Just remember as you're planning and doing your kid date nights that the point of it all is to have fun and talk. The more you talk with you kids now, the more likely they will be to keep that dialogue open with you when they are older.
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