DATE NIGHT… WITH YOUR CHILD? Spending quality one-on-one time with your child.

For most families, the hours slip by so fast during the week before you've had the chance to ask yourself, “How many one-on-one, face-to-face, hours did I spend with my children this week?” Life can be hectic, whether you are a working parent – in or out of the home - or a domestic-engineer, aka a stay-at-home-parent.  The biggest misconception of all is when others hear that you are a stay-at-home-parent which means in their eyes that you have all the leisure time in the world.  If you have been a stay-at-home-parent then you know, that’s just not true.

I came up with the idea for “Date Night” with our two daughters when they were quite young, after I realized that my husband was not quite spending enough one-on-one ALONE time with them.  I had the opportunity to spend hours with them every day, but he did not, and even though he did not, that did not mean he “should not.”

It did not take long to realize as well, that our daughters would open up and talk more when we were “outside.” Regardless if it was in the backyard having a picnic, at the park, the lake – they were twice as chatty about sharing when we were outdoors compared to indoors. I noticed the same openness when we were sitting at the dinner table, or at a restaurant table.

So the answer was simple – we would start having regular Date-Nights with them.  He would take one daughter, I would take the other, and we would go out on a date and the daughters could choose wherever they wanted to go.  Maybe it was just for a long drive, a walk around a lake, dinner and walking around the mall, or walking around the bookstore and then hot cocoa.  Because I spent so much time with them I flattered myself in thinking it would not make a big difference – what else could they possibly tell me that they had not told me throughout our day? I thought I was hearing it all from teachers to playmates – boy, was I wrong! They would share even more information with me on our Date Nights!   

Looking back, I believe, regardless of them having many choices at home, the success of it was letting them choose where they wanted to go, and, them knowing they had our undivided attention.  They seemed to love it and look forward to doing it, whether it was weekly or monthly.

Having the ability to mold and shape another human being is both frightening and exhilarating.  I say, buckle your seat belts, you’re in for a great ride!It may be bumpy at times, but overall, find what works for your family, use your imagination, and then stand back and smile at the rewards of them growing into healthy and happy, kind and compassionate, young adults.

Please share your family time ideas, and if you're not a parent, we would still like to hear what ideas your parents had for their children!

--Debbie Caldwell