Planning a Date with Kids
Embodied parent contributor, Tena C.
We know the importance of date night with our spouse or significant other, but what about a planned date night with our kids? Setting time aside with children focused on communication and connection instead of rules management, learning, and parenting allows room for relationship growth and increased happiness - for both parents and kids.
As a parent to a 10-year-old son, it’s easy to recognize the images of the little boy I’ve grown to know while simultaneously imagining the man he is becoming through glimpses of a more mature son I have yet to meet. I want to cherish the time and space we are in, those few years in between, and planning a monthly family date has become an essential part of our household dynamic. It is one of the benefits we’ve experienced since the Covid-19 pandemic started and time at home increased.
For our family, we have learned that each of us feels most comfortable and able to be our authentic selves while in our home. A date night breaks up our typical routine and encourages us to bring our “best selves” to each other for a few hours each month. We rotate planning family date night so that each person can feel special, relax, and fully settle into the time together on a rotating basis. This responsibility-sharing encourages us to understand another’s needs, to build self-confidence, critical thinking skills, and creativity. While planning a family date night outside the home is also fun and a great option, we’ve focused on ways to flex creativity within the household.
Most planned time together centers around a combination of a meal, an activity, and some structured form of conversation. We have done some themed dates, coordinated some with important holidays or meaningful anniversaries to our family, or incorporated something we’ve gone through together as a family. While we ensure to participate in all planned events for the date, we try to remain fluid and flexible and allow our time together to flow and take on whatever plays out organically. Finally, some family dates have been more successful than others, which is OK. We are a family made up of unique individuals, and because of this, our connection ebbs and flows. We try to go into every date with minimal expectations.
Below are a few meals, activities, and conversation theme starters.
Family Connection Date Night - Meal Ideas:
- Favorite take out or delivery
- Brinner night - breakfast for dinner
- Taco, mac n’ cheese, or baked potato bar
- Child cooks - chef’s choice or child cooks - parent/sibling’s choice
- Weird combos that might be good - burgers with french fries ON the burger, ranch dressing on pizza, steak and macaroni sandwich
- Meatless Monday or vegan night
- Cookies and ice cream for dinner
- Parent cooks - chef’s choice/kid’s choice
- Homemade sushi - typical sushi or other fun ingredients
- Just apps or charcuterie board
- Individual’s choice - a special meal for each individual, each person makes their own or draws names to make for one another.
- Crazy pizza - bbq chicken and pineapple, sausage & gravy pizza (with a biscuit crust), salmon pizza, brussel sprout pizza, or “build your own” personalized pizza
Family Activity Ideas:
- New release movie
- Parent’s favorite movie when “we were that age” (the current age of our son)
- Game night
- Paint and sip (with grape juice and fancy glasses)
- Anniversary celebrations + storytime (our first date/how we met/how an animal became a part of our family)
- Dream night - we describe our perfect house, job, future business, vacation, etc., and make a collage.
- Dance party
- Themed dress-up - PJ’s, formal wear, cat onesies, anime, or trolls
- Pillow and blanket fort building
- Shaving creme floor art or whipped cream flings
- Coloring pages
- Make cards for hospitalized kids, write letters (or emails) to one another or family members, or explore other acts of kindness.
- Expressing gratitude (for the day/week/or prior month)
- Genie wishes - what would your three wishes be if you came across a genie lamp.
- Family history Q&A
- 20 questions - each person come with their own question set
- Something new I’d like to try is…
- Creating a family bucket list
- Sharing goals (for the school year, next month, summer, etc.)
- Ask the child/children to describe what they assume the parent(s) were like at their age - then the parents share how they were right or wrong.
- “My favorite song to listen to when I am happy/sad/angry is” - each person reveals their answers, and together, listen to each song choice
- Something I’ve never shared is…
- Something I am most proud of is…
- If I could change three things about the world, it would be…
Here at Embodied, our mission is to change the world through empathy. We each have a role to play. By encouraging fun family time, connection, and social interaction, we support our individual mental health and overall well-being - cornerstones to being emotionally available for others.
We hope that this list inspires your family to borrow some ideas, mix n’ match activities, or come up with your very own. We’d love to hear if you’ve done some of these, how they’ve gone, or new ideas that are best for your family.