Yeah, it’s easy to spend time with your squishy, bubbly toddler who sees you as their best friend. But when kids become tweens that are too cool, it can take a little more creativity to make one-on-one time exciting and special to them.
We’ve rounded up 19 of our contributor’s favorite parent/child dates that their tweens and teens eagerly say yes to, and if you’re looking for more tips for how to set-up a date with your child, check out Grandma’s Ginger’s tips here.
Plus, we’re sharing a lot of tips for how to do these activities on a budget, and even free.
AT HOME IDEAS
- Night swimming, because there’s something that just feels a little special about being in the pool after the sun sets.
- Sundae bar, because too much ice cream is a win no matter how old your kids are.
- Plan to watch a full movie or show series, just the two of you over the course of summer, the school year, etc. Series like Star Wars, Indiana Jones or other classics are fun for this. For girls, it’s fun to watch all the 1980’s Molly Ringwald rom-coms.
- Spa day at home–Contributor Kira has three tween girls and is an expert at hosting an at home spa day for them. Check out her full cheat sheet of how she puts it together here.
FOR CREATIVE KIDS
- See a free improv show that’s family friendly by Off the Cuff (they’ve been around since we were kids and this is still one of my most favorite memories of date nights with my parents)
- See an improv show at National Comedy Theater in downtown Mesa (family friendly comedy, but they do charge $13-15
- Paint party classes usually are open for all ages (double check before booking, but we have done Wine and Design in Queen Creek, they are always welcoming for tweens/teens!)
- Go to the Mesa Arts Center for a show, class or their free museum! We shared more about all the tween activities there in this post, but it’s a gem in the East Valley that goes way beyond classical music performances.
TO FEEL ADULT-ISH
- “Coffee” date at a local coffee shop (several including Bergie’s in Gilbert and Hava Java in northeast Mesa offer live music on the weekends which is fun)
- Trader Joe’s shopping trip–again, contributor Kira with three tween girls swears by this! If your family is a foodie family, this is a fun out-of the-norm outing that feels special.
- Nail salon date is another go-to that feels adult-ish and special. If nails aren’t your thing, but your tween/tween wants it, know that you can get a budget hack with just a “polish change” where they paint your nails for $5-10, if you’re looking to save a few bucks and don’t want a full manicure.
TO HAVE A LITTLE COMPETITION
- All the arcade/bowling/mini golf/virtual reality play venues are great options for tween and teens (Main Event, Fat Cats, Amazing Jakes, Dave and Busters, etc.)
- Top Golf is one of contributor Kim’s go-to activities with her two teens.
- Axe throwing- Social Axe (13+), lumberjaxes (no age limit), class axe (12+) are a few ideas!
- Shooting, learning proper gun safety is paramount, and we appreciate the safety lessons local shooting ranges offer. A few local ones are: Ted’s Shooting Range, c2, Caswells, Rio Salado, Usery Pass. Pro tip: there’s several shooting ranges included in the Get Out Pass, making this a “free” activity if you have the pass (use code “xoxoevm” for a major discount).
- Mini golf doesn’t have to be pricey, be sure to check out groupon for Imagine 3D mini golf, King Arthur’s Quest and Golfland. Or, if you have the Get Out Pass you get a free weekly glow golf for a year.
FOR FOODIE FAMILIES
- Pick a food for the year and go on a few dates looking for “the best” of something: best ice cream sundae, best nachos, best bbq, etc.
- Go out to a nice restaurant with your tween/teen. It’s fun for them to dress up and feel fancy, and it’s good practice for raising kids who know how to act in a nice restaurant.
- Try to recreate a favorite meal at home, we recently found a copycat recipe hack for Taco Bell’s mexican pizzas and it was such a fun activity with a tween