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Dating your kids: Highly recommended

I love both of my kids and they generally get along well. I wrote a series of posts about how bringing a second child into your family doesn't have to be as scary as you think it might be. I've given people tips on playing with two kids of different ages at the same time. I've even written posts talking about how much I love watching the two of them together.

Despite all of that, I must admit that I lack patience when both of them are with me. One of them wants to do one thing, the other wants to do something else. But they both want to do it with mommy. Both of them want the same toy at the same time. They both want a snack and they both want it first. One is slow, the other is fast. They don't understand the meaning of "in a minute" or "when I'm done with this". They repeat the question without waiting to hear the answer.

It exhausts me.

I am definitely a better parent one-on-one.

So this Friday, when I had the opportunity to go on dates with both of my kids, separately, it was one of the most wonderful days I've had in a long time.

Date #1: Art, Lunch and Gelato

MIMG00100y husband brought my 2.5 year old daughter into the city to meet me for an extended lunch break. She and I headed over to the National Gallery of Canada to check out the art work and have some fun at Artissimo playing with blocks, doing arts and crafts, and reading books in the spectacular glass atrium overlooking Parliament Hill .

During our visit, we went to the museum cafeteria and shared a nice calm lunch. After we were finished checking out the art work we took a walk down the street, calmly looking into the windows of the shops we passed, checking out fountains and flowers, and stopped to share some raspberry and mango gelato.

Date #2: Dinner, Shopping and Dinosaurs

Late afternoon I picked almost five year old son up from school and we headed off to the mall to grab some dinner. He got to pick whatever he wanted from the food court and didn't make the healthiest of choices. After that we went over to Old Navy to let him pick out some track pants and a few t-shirts. We also picked up a lady bug costume for his little sister that we both agreed she absolutely had to gave given her love of the book Ladybug Girl.

After we were done shopping, the real treat came. As a gift for his upcoming birthday, I was taking him to see Walking with Dinosaurs. The show was absolutely spectacular and it was great seeing him get so excited about each dinosaur that came out and loving every minute of it. To anyone who doubted that kids pick up on the message that hockey is violent, I've never really spoken about hockey with my son, but the first question he asked as we sat down in our seats at Scotiabank Place was whether the hockey players were going to come out and fight with the dinosaurs. We cuddled and enjoyed the show together and then he passed out five minutes into the drive home.

Highly recommended

We had such a wonderful day. I highly recommend trying to find a way to have some quality one-one-one time with each of your kids. The activities do not have to be expensive. Things like a walk in the woods, a visit to the beach, or a pick nick in the park, can be wonderful ways to spend some time together. At a time when I was really starting to feel overwhelmed, this day and this alone time with each of my kids really helped to rejuvenate me and restore some balance in my life.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored review. All products, services and events mentioned in this post were paid for in full by me.

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Reader Comments (17)

Love this post. I only have one little human, but I still think its important to "Date" her. Particularly if i've been away on a business trip, or just working a lot; she loves going on a date! She knows it means we go out of the house (away from the toys, art projects, little friends playing hopscotch on the sidewalks etc.) and we do something that involves a good chat. For the price of two milkshakes, she feels so proud that she was taken on a date! It's not like she doesn't lead an exciting life with many (many!!) treats - but for some reason, this date thing is a real highlight!

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterT Mumby

I did date night with my 8 year old two weeks ago and we loved it. I am planning my 4 year old's night out now. It is fun to make them feel so special. And with baby 3 on the way I need to focus on them a bit.

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChantal

Great reminder to spend that one-on-one time with your child! And that dinosaur show sounds very cool. My son has recently discovered dinosaurs (he is 2.75 years old). He keeps asking me to take him to the dinosaur zoo. Ha ha!

So now I must ask: do you really use the word "date" when you are talking to your child about the event? Maybe I'm just being old-fashioned!

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlina

Glad you had fun - sounds like a great day! We also try to do dates with the kids, although the baby has been tagging along until recently. We do call them dates - "daddy-daughter date," "mama-son date," etc. One on one time is important, definitely. I remember craving it growing up as one of 5 kids.

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

I'm a one-on-one parent too. Not that we don't have fun all together, but I feel less frazzled when I can go out with one at a time. Plus, they love having a special mommy date.

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSummer

I think I do use the word date sometimes, but not always.

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

We take turns being alone/doing activities with each since the babe came. She's only 6 months so I get a lot more alone time with her right now, but I make a point of taking my near 3 yr old shopping with me, to play classes etc. to be alone. He does groceries/special trips with daddy and when I"m with him, the baby is with daddy. We're lucky with my dh on parental leave, we can balance it quite well.

Great post, and a reminder that our little ones are little people.

September 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

[...] Dates with my kids. I try to set aside some special dates with my kids. Sometimes my husband brings my daughter in to meet me for lunch. Every once in a while my son and I go out for an early dinner after school before going home. On weekends, I try to carve off half days to go out and do special activities like a walk or a visit to a museum with one or both of the kids. In the summer, I took Mondays off and often spent the day out and about with one kid or the other going to the park, stopping at a cafe for a snack, visiting the bookstore, having an ice cream, etc. When we just stay home and hang out, we do get some time together but that is often combined with doing the laundry, checking e-mail, cooking meals, cleaning up, and all the other things that get in the way of focusing on each other. [...]

Sometimes it's hard for me to be patient with just one, I can't even imagine two right now. I was just reading about this mom about how she deals with teaching her toddler to be patient. http://bloomingtonbirth.org/blog/2010/08/30/patience/

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

"It exhausts me."

That's exactly how I feel with children 20 months apart.

I am also a better mommy one-on-one.

This post you wrote really make me smile. Great Job.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeei

I haven't had a "date" with my daughter since her brother was born 6 months ago (already!). We feel strongly about a small baby being with his mother, and plus I don't want to pump! But now he's a bit older, I'm looking forward to some one-on-one time with her.

I've been wondering about Walking with Dinosaurs - my daughter adores dinos, but she's also a very sensitive child - I don't know whether to risk it or not...

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJuliette

[...] my experience, yes…mama bear can let go. But maybe not forever. I go on dates with my kids to reconnect. I need extended vacations with my kids to deepen and strengthen our relationship [...]

Love this...my girls are 30 and 32 and I still love going out with them separately. Both are unique but together it is sometimes overwhelming...not much different than when they were little ones. Your post brought back memories for me ...thank you for sharing.

March 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLorette Lavine

I think all those moments that we channel all our attention, energy and love into one child are amazing. I don't think it makes you a 'better' parent one on one. You're just more able to be a 'concentrated' parent who doesn't also have to deal thirty other distractions. It's all those distractions that make the one on one time so special when you get it.

I don't get nearly enough one on one time with my middle child. Which I hope wn't lead to middle child syndrome. (My sister and my Dh's sister both have it and really, it just makes us hang even more shit on them)

Thanks for the timely reminder that I really need to schedule some time with my son.

March 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPirra

sounds like you had a great time. my daughter is 4 and my son has just turned 1. we haven't had a date yet but I miss spending one to one time with my daughter. as the baby boy is getting older, I think we can start to try very soon, even if it's for an hour or so.

March 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIsil

[...] without anyone else trying to speak on top of us or asking for “more ketchup.” These dates with my kids, like bedtime, are true opportunities to [...]

[...] phdinparenting on August 24, 2012 · 1 comment I've written before about how important one-on-one time with each of my kids is to me. When we're together as a family, we have fun, but it always seems like everyone is [...]

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