Last Thursday my daughter and I decided to take a trip to one of our favorite stores. I had gotten up early and all my work was done, so I was more than happy to go with her when she asked. It ended up being a great afternoon of quality time with my kid. We took our time shopping, then went to the local gas station to get greasy hotdogs and fountain soda. It was such a special bonding time and it made me realize how long it had been since we’d had a date.
I got the idea to go on dates with my kids from my mother. There were four of us girls and it was the best way for her to get one-on-one time with each of us. I always looked forward to having some special attention from my mom and I knew I would want to continue the tradition once I had children of my own.
With three kids close in age, I realized early on how much we needed that alone time together.
Now that my kids are teenagers and their world is filled with friends, school, jobs and hobbies, they want to spend less time with me and less time doing family things. Which makes our dates more important than ever. This quality time with my kids gives us a chance to get to know each other on a different level and it brings us closer.
I also value these times with them more than I did when they were younger and I was one of their only sources of entertainment. Having teenagers is less physically demanding than having little ones and I’m able to bring that energy into planning our dates.
And no matter what we do—whether I’m taking my oldest son out for a burger, shopping with my daughter, or getting ice cream with my youngest after school—they’re more likely to open up when it’s just the two of us. When all four of us are doing something as a family, it’s harder for anyone to get a word in because they’re too busy teasing each other.
But when we plan a date, they know they’ll have me to themselves and they’re excited to choose our activities.
In a few days, I’m taking my daughter to a petting zoo. It’s something she’s been wanting to do for a year, but we couldn’t plan it because of Covid-19 restrictions. My sons aren’t interested in going and that’s fine—this will be something for just the two of us. Next week, my younger son and I will go look at plants and do some gardening and eat at his favorite burger joint that my other two kids don’t like. Whatever I do with each of them, they know that my focus will be on them. And that’s as important to me as it is to my children.
Now that my kids are older and are able to stay at home without me, I’ve learned that this is the best time to plan dates with them and take turns letting them do the things they want to do. There’s no need to drag everyone to the same restaurant or activity when it can be something special shared between just two of us.
Dating my kids has become even more meaningful because it won’t be long before they’re out of the house and on their own. Their teen years are quickly coming to an end and I want our special dates to leave lasting memories. For them, but also for me.