And if that doesn't convince you, well...
1. They don't have to share anything.
This one sounds kind of like the anti-parenting tip, but it's true. Kids have to share things all day long - toys, books, blankets, and most importantly time with you. And if we're honest with ourselves, sharing ISN'T always caring. I mean, sometimes it is nice to have something to yourself, especially when you're a kid with siblings. So a night out with no sharing is like a dream come true - especially when popcorn is involved.
2. They get to make big decisions.
Kids have very few opportunities to make really big decisions. Most of the time, they are forced to go along with whatever is planned for them. Date nights where they get to plan the entire list of activities is an easy way to make them feel important, capable and heard. (Which leads to the next point...)
3. They feel heard.
How often do you have to tell one of your children to hold on or wait a minute while you finish listening to another story? Having this uninterrupted time with you means just that - they aren't interrupted. You get to hear every word, every question, every silly bit of sass. You get to hear them. And they know that and most importantly, feel the love that comes from being heard.
4. You get to see them be little.
I try not to think about all the things I miss every day and I'm not just talking about when I'm at work and they are at school. I mean the things that happen right in front of my face that I never actually see. These hours alone with them lets us SEE them. Watch them, mesmerized by all that they can do.
5. There are no complaints about dinner.
When they pick it, they eat it. Gladly.
I love that each date is different and totally catered to them and it should be since they pick it. This year Landry picked Chick-A-Lay, the movies (because, popcorn) and Spoons. Emmy picked swimming, Freebirds and skipped dessert to go shopping at Target where all she wanted was to buy something for her brother and sister. (Heart of gold, that one). Radley chose Pei Wei, Harry Potter and Pokemon before we ended at Dairy Queen. Each date picked by them and totally highlighting what makes them tick.
I think that our date with Radley may have been one of the best dates ever. Seriously, sitting in that park reading Harry Potter snuggled next to him with Ryan as our pillow? Core memory not just for him, but for me, too.
8. They feel important.
Let's face it - not every single thing that our kids do is fun. This whole Pokemon craze, while interesting, isn't necessarily on my top list of things to do, but Radley loves it. So the hour we spent walking around that park sharing in his excitement about Psyducks and Squirrtles and other weird creatures was about much more than the number of "CPs" he collected (if that's even the correct lingo). The conversation didn't just include Pokemon speak; we got to hear about his goals, his fears, his excitement for school. When we share what makes them feel important, they end us making us feel important, too.
9. Dessert is mandatory.
Unless of course you're Emersyn.
10. They let you know how important this is to them.
Y'all. Radley grabbed my hand five times on our date. FIVE. It was his little way of saying "Hey, Mom, I love you. Thanks for making me feel special." And my heart melted a million times into hundreds of puddles.
What are your favorite date ideas with kids? I'd love to hear about them!