Since we are in a love month, I thought it would be perfect to talk about dating your kids. When you think about dating, typically, you think of talking or the getting to know you stage. You fully invest in the person. Everything about them is intriguing. You listen intently and care to know this person deeper.
I feel this same concept can apply to any relationship, especially with your children.
Often love is not perceived by what you say but by what you do. Everyone knows the phrase “actions speak louder than words.” What are you doing to show your kids that you love them, and in a way, they can receive it?
With multiple children, sometimes you unintentionally give one child more attention. It is bound to happen with more than one child because of developmental needs or age. You’re being pulled (mentally and physically) in different directions! It’s hard to please everyone at once. Children notice when they aren’t receiving your attention as they once did. It bothers them. So what’s their first instinct? Get mommy’s attention at whatever cost. Nine times out of ten, this means cutting up … or some my call it acting out! Either way, it ain’t pretty, and something will end up broken in the process.
Once Liam (my second) was born, I noticed a quick change in Luna’s behavior. Whenever I went to tend to her baby brother, she took it as an opportunity to straight-up clown! She would take off her diaper every time I changed brother. Scream when I nursed him to sleep. Everything opposite of what I wanted her to do! I was just bewildered and thought, “This ain’t it; something has to give.”
One of my coworkers at the time suggested taking her out on a mommy-daughter date. She told me it was something she did with her kids up until they moved out.
I began taking Luna out on “dates” to show her that ‘mama still sees you’! Her attitude began to slowly but surely change. Eventually, she wasn’t as aggressive when I would tend to her brother. Now, she is my biggest helper!
It is essential to know your children as individuals. Each of them has attributes that make them so unique. They want you to be aware of these characteristics and acknowledge them. Kids also don’t want to feel as if they are losing you to a sibling.
We take our kids out by themselves a few times a month! COVID has changed this slightly, but we do our best to do a mix of home and outing dates.
Benefits of Dating Your Kids
Here are a few benefits I’ve noticed from us being intentional about “dating” our kids:
1. Building Memories
Date days are the highlights of my kids’ conversations! Anytime we take them out and say it is a date, something in them stirs. Everything about the date is embedded in the forefront of their memory. They love to share them with everyone who will give them an ear.
My kids: “This one time on a date with my daddy/mommy …”
Since COVID, we have not done anything really “monumental.” But, to kids, as soon as you hop in the car, you are on an adventure … even if it’s just to granny’s house.
2. Uninterrupted Quality Time
Often in larger families, it is easy to feel overlooked or unheard. When you take time out to acknowledge one of your kids, it changes their whole demeanor. Once you say, I want to take you out for some quality time, they finally feel seen. I love watching the excitement bubble up once they hear, “Are you ready to go out on a date?”
3. You Get to Know Them
Whenever I’m on a date with my kids, I love to ask them questions.
“How are you?”
“What do you feel about…”
“How am I doing as your mom?”
Even if they don’t know the answer or quite answer the question, I still sit and listen. I also care about how my children view me. Yes, they are young, but I also see this as open-minded communication I’m building with them. I want them to know I am fully invested in them no matter how crazy life may get.
4. Investing in Long-Term Relationship
Often, I envision continuing dates and the conversations becoming deeper as my kids get older. Some with older children may say this is wishful thinking. But, I see it as trying a new method I didn’t experience growing up. I have nothing to lose and a solid relationship with my kids to gain. Long-term healthy relationships are an investment. They start early on.
Another benefit that I’ve noticed is that the kids are more understanding. When we tell them, “Mommy and Daddy are going on a date tonight,” we no longer hear, “Why?” or “do you have to go on a date and leave us with granny?”.
Being intentional about dating them cultivates a newfound understanding of why parents still date. The kids appreciate feeling seen and the closeness they feel to us when we go out. Now they are excited for mommy and daddy to do the same.
Stuck on what to do with your kids? Here are just a few ideas from things we’ve done. If you know me, one of my favorite phrases is, “if it’s free, it’s for me!” You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a date day with your kids.
Free Date Ideas
– Create crafts from items around the house
– Walk around the neighborhood
– Go to the park
– Scavenger hunt in the back yard with a prize
Dollar Tree is my go-to spot for everything! Some date days, we let the kids go to the Dollar Tree and pick a few things out for us to create together, whether it be crafts or baking sugar cookies with sprinkles.
Other low-cost date ideas are:
– Picking up their favorite meal/snack
– Going to the library
– Movies (if this will ever be a thing again)
– Letting them pick a new toy
There is so much you can do to “date” your kids. Get creative and have fun! Don’t think of date days as an inconvenience. But look at them as an investment. Most importantly, be in the moment … which means put your phone away and enjoy those kids!