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Family Dates

When you have children you always hear people tell you to make sure you and your partner have enough time, alone, together. Continuing to date your partner is absolutely necessary and deserved. This post isn’t about that though.

Even though I enjoy spending time alone with my husband, I especially enjoy going on family dates. When we decided to try to get pregnant, to me, that was deciding to include our children in as much of our life as possible. I never liked the idea of dropping them off with someone else just so we can have fun without them. I am all for having one on one dates with your partner, don’t get me wrong. I just would rather have that time together as a family. My thoughts are, I wanted this child so much why would I want to leave them behind? I love seeing their reaction to new experiences. Especially when they are younger and their memory isn’t the greatest. You can experience the same thing, differently, many times.

I don’t want my kids to feel like they aren’t included on special dates. Just recently we started using the word “date” with Pickle. He now knows that a date means we are going to do something special together. Something other than going to the grocery store. He gets excited when he hears the word date because he knows he is in for a treat (good time). For instance, just yesterday we went to the Balloon and Wine Festival as our family date.

I have been trying to make a point to do more family dates lately. It is also nice just to get out of the house and away from the normal day-to-day hustle. Just being together, doing something we enjoy, can bring a smile to my face. I know, in today’s society, we spend a lot of time looking at our phones for whatever reason. On these family dates, I try to make it a point to not look at my phone. The only exception, for me, is taking pictures to capture the moments.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the family date ideas that we have done or plan to do.

  1. Free parks – What child doesn’t love playing at the park? Where we live we have many options to choose from nearby. We have a large soccer field/baseball field right behind our house. We have a park (playground) and splash park right across the street. There are, at least, 4 parks within walking distance of our house; each one has something unique about it. The thing I love about parks is, not only does it burn off the little’s energy, but it also gives you a chance to play with them. You can play tag, climb the monkey bars, go down the slides, race on the slides, or you can play make-believe. You can do all sorts of things at the park. Sometimes we will take a picnic with us, when it is nice out, and eat and play. It is always a good time.
  2. The book store – I don’t know about all cities, states, or even countries, but where we live we have a book store called Barnes and Noble. I particularly like this book store because they, not only have books, but they also have interactive story time and a play area. Even if you don’t plan on buying a book you can still go into the kids section, find a book, sit down, and read it together. You can play with the puppets they have or the train table. It doesn’t cost anything to walk into the book store either. Free is always nice.
  3. Frozen Yogurt (Froyo) or Ice cream – Who doesn’t love a sweet treat? We have froyo shops popping up all over town. They are fun to go to. You go in, pick a bowl, put the froyo flavors that you want in the bowl, put all the toppings you want on it, and then pay for it. Usually they are weighed and it costs so much per ounce. You can sit down and eat it in the shop or you can take it where ever you want (to the park, lake, or just sit in the car and eat it). You can do the same with ice cream.
  4. Lake/Recreational Area – We recently discovered a lake area close to our house. We wound up taking Poppy’s 7 month pictures there. We packed a picnic to bring with us and a blanket to sit on. When we got there we found a shaded area, close to the lake and the playground, and spread the blanket out on the ground. We ate our dinner, walked to the lake for a little bit, and then went to play on the playground. I enjoy the scenery being on the lake. We plan to go back for fishing sometime soon (which could be another date if you have the supplies).
  5. The zoo – I have mentioned before that we have a zoo pass. This makes is nice for us to save money, so that we can go to the zoo as often as we want to. Our zoo you are allowed to bring in your own food and drinks, so we often do that to save some money. You can pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to keep it simple. You could spend several hours at the zoo if you want. Again, letting the kids burn off their energy is great when it comes to bed time. Plus, you get to see all sorts of cool animals.
  6. Geocaching – This is something still new to us. Our good friend introduced us to geocaching last year. It is where people will plant a little something somewhere and put hints online for you to go and find it. Usually it is like a piece of paper rolled up in a plastic tube that keeps a log of the people who have found it. It is like a scavenger hunt and some of them can be pretty difficult to find. You can check out the website https://www.geocaching.com/play for more information or to create an account to try it out. It is free and you can search in the area which you want to. For instance, if you don’t want to have to drive you can find ones within your area to walk to. It is up to you on how far you want to go.
  7. The Library – Where we live you can find a local library according to your zip code. Getting a library card is free. Of course they have many books, but they also usually have computers. We went to this one library once that had computers set up just for kids. Pickle especially liked playing the Three Little Pigs story on it. You don’t have to check anything out if you go to the library. Just like the book store, you can always read books together there. Our local library often offers random classes or story time per age group. They will do things like arts and crafts or snacks.  They recently did a day where you come in and sit in a fort together and read. I keep up to date on those by following their Facebook page.
  8. Child’s choice – It is fun to see what is on your child’s mind as far as an idea of what they consider a fun date. You can ask them to pick something by either giving them options or letting them come up with something on their own. Depending on their age sometimes they may not seem to make sense, but try to go with it.
  9. Local carnivals – During the Summer months here, there are carnivals going on all of the time. Usually each city, or town, has one going on at some point or another. This is another activity that can take as much or as little time and money as you want. Some even include a firework display, which I personally enjoy.
  10. Art places – I recently noticed a new business in our area where you can go in a, pick a piece of pottery, and paint it. I am eager to take Pickle here and let him make something that we can use as a decorative piece in the house. I am probably going to be that mom that keeps everything their child ever makes and displays it somewhere in the house. I think the idea of the art place is fun. It is creative which is something children tend to enjoy a lot. Speaking of art, there may also be local art galleries or museums that you could go to. I will advise that some of them may not be entertaining for specific age groups. We took Pickle to one a couple of years ago that was aimed for a mature audience. He did not enjoy it. He would rather be running around and touching everything. You can check their website or see if there are any reviews online before going.

Of course there are many options that are dependent upon where you live and how far you want to go. The main point is spending time together doing something enjoyable, without worrying about work, drama, or technology. It doesn’t have to be things that cost a lot, or even any money, unless you want it to. You get to decide. Sometimes I like making these dates a surprise by letting Pickle know we are going on a date, but not telling him where until we get there. Sometimes it is just fun seeing his expression when we pull up and he realizes where we are. These are the things our kids are going to remember and I want to make it count.

Do you go on family dates? Did you go on family dates as a child? What were/are your favorites? Let me know in the comments.

-Jenn

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