By Michele, Contributing Writer
Some of our family’s favorite memories have been created when we plan “dates” with our kids! Although we love experiencing adventures together as an entire family, we try to occasionally carve out one-on-one time for each child individually.
This might be a “girls only” afternoon with my daughter, an outing with my oldest son, or maybe Daddy taking out his little girl. Here are a few of our ideas that we’ve enjoyed; each are frugal enough to repeat often!
Life with little brothers is never boring, but I know my daughter loves having a chance to delve into her art and craft supplies without little “helpers” on occasion.
One date she and I enjoyed together was a lazy Sunday afternoon working on a new friendship bracelet weaving kit that I had picked up at a consignment sale. (Skeins of embroidery floss are about 30-50 cents each, so cost is minimal for a small project.)
We supplemented with some instructional books from the library as well as some helpful YouTube videos. And, of course, we had snacks on hand to munch on as well!
Movie & Popcorn
We like to select movies to borrow from our local library for a frugal date.
Whether the boys choose an old western, or the girls get a sentimental classic, we have fun watching a child’s favorite genre with them one-on-one, without the rest of the family getting bored and arguing over the popcorn bowl.
They feel special because we chose something specifically for them, plus they get that individual time with mom or dad.
(Sometimes we girls will paint our nails during the show, too!)
Each child has fun when they get to help plan and prepare a favorite picnic lunch that we can share on a picnic for the two of us! (It doesn’t have to be finger foods or “traditional” picnic fare, either. One favorite meal was an Asian-inspired stir-fry/salad eaten with chopsticks!)
They will often get ideas ahead of time by browsing cookbooks from the library or our kitchen shelves for the perfect meal or special dessert.
A Relaxed Errand
So many times we are rushing to get all the errands done, struggling to keep the toddler in the shopping cart and checking things off the list.
It might seem a little silly at first to call it a date, but my kids love having a chance to do an errand one-on-one with us. It gives them opportunities to talk with a parent uninterrupted, and slow errands allow for some fun exploring!
We’ve found some interesting treasures while browsing the thrift store. A trip to the car repair shop resulted in a personal tour from the mechanic, the hardware store owner allowed an extensive inspection of curious items on the shelves, and the librarian reminisced with stories about her childhood toys while we were on slow “errand dates” with our kids.
Since my kids are homeschooled, the public school playground is actually a huge treat. Even if your kids see it every week day, it is still fun to visit it on a summer evening or weekend afternoon, without the time limits of recess or sharing with the rest of their classmates!
Kids have fun showing off their favorite playground equipment/skills (and watching a parent try it out). This one has been a great last-minute surprise date and one of our most requested. It doesn’t much advance planning or preparation, and I can put a time limit on it if needed, but still keep it fun.
While driving home from an errand, I have pulled into the school parking lot and said, “OK, we have 15 to 20 minutes before we have to go home and start dinner. Let’s have fun on the playground!”
Think about what your child enjoys, and intentionally plan a way to spend some time together.
It doesn’t have to be a “Pinterest-worthy” event or a budget-busting endeavor. Just time together will make their day. And yours.