So as some of you know I have two little princesses at home- one is 5 and one is 4. This is such a fun age to have little ones because I can really see their personalities starting to develop and it is also a little bittersweet because I can see my big girl turning into a girl (and not my baby anymore.) Sniff… sniff.
The wonderful thing about this phase of life is that both my girls still think old Mom is just the coolest and they love to do things with me. So I intend to milk this as much as I can for as long as it lasts.
Occasionally I wake up in terror thinking about how 10 years from now my days will look with two teenage girls running loose- I can already hear doors slamming and I have flashbacks of my favorite word as a teenager (“whatever!” followed by an eye roll.)
So I try really hard to spend as much time as I can with my little ladies and really focus on them. I asked one of the youth leaders at our Church awhile back for tips on how to raise grateful, confident, thoughtful and joyful teenagers and his advice was to spend time. He said a lot of people focus on “quality time” squeezing in what they can but really the way to get to the quality is through quantity. (He said it better but you get the point.)
Now we can only do our best each day and I am certainly not perfect in this area but I have started coming up with fun little dates to go on with my girls.
My husband actually does this too and the point really is to spend quality time with each child as an individual. I make sure there are no distractions- (bye, bye iPhone) and I try to come up with stuff that is fun and different for us to do together.
This doesn’t have to be a big deal- it can be simple and free things or it can be something a little more elaborate. I think the key for me is to really show my children that they are valued and to try to really get to know them. After all, these two little divas are the coolest people I have ever met and I want to make sure they know that they are the most important thing in my entire life!
I try to come up with one date per month per child- obviously we do lots of things as a family- but the one on one time is really important so each kiddo gets 100% of my attention.
If you want to start planning little Mommy (or Daddy) and Daughter Dates, here are some things we have done. My kids are younger but many of these ideas would work for older children and obviously a lot of this is just as fun for boys.
The real key to these activities is to take your time. It is a wonder that my children’s first words weren’t “Hurry up!” because I feel like I am always rushing them in and out of places. No matter what you decide to do try to focus on the child completely and to just take the time to really be in the moment.
Picnic at the Park
Long Walks with the Dog (what better way to spend a nice summer evening?)
Spa Day- with manicures or pedicures (at home or at a salon). Not too long ago I spent an afternoon with all my big girl’s dolls and we brushed their hair, organized their clothing and fixed them up (i.e. put Ariel’s head back on). She loved that.
Visit a pottery store to make something cool together
Reading books- we read in the hammock a lot on a lazy afternoon and that can lead to just chatting in between books or have a date at a bookstore. Get hot chocolate, take your time browsing the shelves, sit in a corner and read a book or two….
Coffee dates- Try new coffee places and get hot chocolate, apple cider, blended drinks, maybe a treat or two and just people watch. You do it with your girlfriends so why not with your daughter too!
Outdoor markets- the flea market, vintage stores, farmer’s market etc… can be fun places to wander around. Grab a few little snacks and just enjoy wandering with no specific destination. We have some cute small towns that are a short drive away and I can easily spend an afternoon window shopping with my big girl.
Volunteer your time- this month we are going to pack boxes with supplies for troops overseas. My Church also puts together sewing parties to make dresses for girls in war torn countries that need basic clothing (and you don’t need to sew- you can sort fabric, pin things, wrap the finished garments etc…), animal shelters love to have volunteers to walk dogs, soup kitchens or just cruise a nearby beach or park and bring a baggie to collect the trash.
Baking/Cooking- now this can be lessons at home or maybe you can take a class together. I just registered my girls to go to a fancy cupcake shop and learn to decorate cupcakes. You can also do big batches of cookies or lemonade to pass out to friends and neighbors.
Craft activities- my big girl in particular loves crafts. Even if you are not a crafty type- you might do some sort of home project or activity. We have tie-dyed canvas shoes, painted things around the house, planted an herb garden… You can also take classes at stores like Joann’s and Michael’s or Lowe’s and Home Depot have free crafts every few weeks.
Have a special dinner or lunch date. Make it fancy. If you are staying at home, get fun fabric for the tablecloth and napkins, get cute containers… just make things feel special and different. If you decide to go out why not go to a slightly nicer place and dress up a little. Many places will offer Happy Hour discounts (for food silly not cocktails!) or you can just get dessert. Some places offer tea parties for kiddos. My littles love to go to Whole Foods and get amazing gelato or some lovely baked something or other. We sit outside and have a chat and savor the treat.
See a play or a ballet. I was iffy on this because I was thinking my kiddos are too small to sit still but my 5 year old and I went to see the Nutcracker last winter and she was mesmerized. We will for sure go to another ballet or play because she really enjoyed it.
Enjoy the sunset or stargaze. Head outside and sit on the porch swing, hammock or I have been known to drag a big bean bag chair onto the front lawn. Sit there and watch the sunset or the stars. Just sitting quietly can often lead to important discussions- we talk about Heaven, little sisters, boys and nail polish. For some reason my big girl will often use this time to confess to any crimes she has committed during the week (“Mommy I know you said I could only have one cookie but I snuck an extra one and ate it in the closet…”) Bonus points are awarded if the child gets to stay up past their bedtime.
Watch a video together or go see a movie. Now I haven’t “watched” a movie in about 6 years. I am a constant multi-tasker so I have the computer, the iPad, a magazine, piles of laundry and the movie or TV is basically background noise. If you are the same- actually turn it all off and to heck with the housework. Watch the movie or cartoon together and be sure to have a little chat after about what you saw… “So Scooby Doo was a little scared of that Mummy that came out from the bushes… do you think Mummies are real?” My big girl likes to watch craft things on You Tube too. Just last week we got up early on Saturday and just lounged around in bed watching people make cool stuff on You Tube.
Scrapbook. Alright I am a lame scrapbooker/photobook maker. I wish I was good about doing this and I am terrible. BUT this summer I bought the stuff and it is staring me down. I have been getting photos printed for all the fun stuff we have done so far and we are going to have an afternoon session of putting the scrapbook together to remember our summer.
Tell Family Stories. Children love to hear stories about themselves. They love to hear stories about the family too and if you have girls they might especially be interested in the wedding stuff. I have spent time pulling out photo albums and showing my little girl what my life was like before she was born as well as pictures of her as a baby. We went through all my wedding stuff once- which she LOVED- and I even let her try on my wedding dress. That was a hit.
Build Something- a puzzle, a collage cutting pictures from magazines, play Legos…whatever floats her boat.
Play a Sport. How about putt putt golf? I go to the gym a lot so a few times I have taken my little girl to children’s Zumba classes. She gets to see what I do when I go to the gym and it was fun dancing together and being silly.
Be silly. Go to a play area and actually play. Get dirty- stomp in a puddle. Teach her to do cartwheels. Show her that you can be goofy and fun and carefree too! I believe laughing makes you younger AND it is a great ab workout so do it often.
Take a Class. Williams Sonoma is offering new Junior chef classes where they teach little ones how to prepare various items (smoothies and juicing was recently at our store), Joann’s offers cake decorating classes… maybe you can find some sort of class in your area for you and your little one to learn something new together.
Most importantly take pictures!! Who cares if your hair is a mess (story of my life…seriously) or you look chubby that day or your eyes are closed or whatever else could be the issue. Who cares! Make sure all the photos you have of your memories are WITH your kiddos and not just of the kiddos. Twenty years from now you want those little ones telling people- here is my cool mom taking me to the Nutcracker not I wish I had pictures with my Mom but she didn’t like her outfit so here is just me. 😉
I’d love to hear what your ideas are for spending quality time with your kiddos. And I’d really love any awesome ideas Mommies of little boys have for date nights.
This post is part of the 30 Days to a Funner Summer Series.
You can catch up with the entire series by click below:
- Day 1: Get Organized! How to organize children’s activity bags.
- Day 2: End of Year Surprises for Children
- Day 3: Strawberry Lemon Slushie Recipe
- Day 4: Homemade Hamburger Seasoning to AMP up your burgers
- Day 5: How to make Giant Bubble Solution
- Day 6: How to Save Money on Road Trips
- Day 7: How to Create a Summer Schedule.
- Day 8: How to make a GIANT water bed (this is so fun!)
- Day 9: Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
- Day 10: 8 Ways to Get Outdoors this Summer
- Day 11: How to Calm a Child’s Room
- Day 12: How to Make Movie Night More Fun
- Day 13: Watermelon-Lime Sorbet (just 3 ingredients!)