The holidays are over (whew!). Most of us cherish the parties, gifts, decorations, and lights that define that season. But when January 1 pops up on the calendar, it’s sometimes hard not to think, now what? What can top the yummy treats of December bake-fests? Where are the Hallmark movies? How will I keep the kids entertained?
It’s a long time until next year’s celebrations – and heaven help us if the pandemic continues to restrict our lives in 2021 — so here’s one idea to keep you and your family upbeat and motivated in the coming months that worked for me as a young mom 30+ years ago.
Try making a date with someone special – your kids. When my daughter was little, we went on mommy/daughter dates frequently. It became our special time together and we still make time to do special things together – just the two of us.
But what’s the difference between a date and just hanging out?
If it’s unplanned, unstructured, and usually unstructured, you’re probably just hanging out together. I always try to make dates consist of three parts: Before, During and After. Parent hack—drawing it out into three parts gets you more ‘bang for your buck’ on this type of activity, too!
Before – The Invitation
Invite your kiddo if they’d like to spend time together at a particular time and place. Even a three-year-old will be excited to think that you want to reserve and plan for a special activity with them alone. Together, you can come up with the details in advance, which will build excitement.
During – Carry Out the Plan
This is the moment you’ve both been looking forward to. Let your hair down and try not to be too much of a rule-keeper. Dates are made for fun – go out and have a ball. Bend the rules a little bit—that’s another part of what makes family dates special!
Some of our “dates” were recurring. In elementary school, she had a piano lesson every Wednesday before school. This meant getting up earlier than usual and rushing through our morning routine. To soften that arrangement, she and I would leave early enough to stop for at the grocery store for a donut. Nothing fancy, nothing grand but it was a few minutes we could both look forward to on those early mornings and soon she started looking forward to piano lessons too.
Other dates were planned in advance, maybe a shopping trip for new shoes or to see a Disney movie.
After – Talk about it
After the fact, spend some little time decompressing. Talk to one another, reminisce about the silliness, recall the calamities, if there were any. There’s nothing wrong with a calamity – it will make the date all the more memorable. Tell others about what you did, where you went, how if felt, and whether or not it was as much fun as anticipated. Pictures are great reminders of how much fun you had.
Going on dates is a tradition my daughter and I have always enjoyed, and I’m excited to start taking my grandson out on grandma dates, too!