These days, with both parents and kid’s busy schedules, it can feel difficult to squeeze in some quality time with your children. Even with summer coming up, activities and friends can get in the way of spending time together. However, having regularly scheduled dates with your kids lets you bond and create lots of fun memories for you and your child to remember forever.
A fun starting point is to create a plan together with your kids. Grab your kids and brainstorm ideas for what they might like to do.
If you have more than one child, chances are they’ll have very different ideas of what’s fun. Therefore, make sure you set aside time to have individual dates with all of your kids.
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Date Ideas With Your Kids
Here are some recommendations to get you started, broken down into categories. You can create a master list of kids’ activities for the whole family, including shorter lists for each child. This way you can spend one-on-one time with each one.
If you are on a tight budget, don’t fear! There are plenty of inexpensive or even free dates that you can add to your list. You just may need to be a little creative to do things that will hold your child’s attention.
These activities don’t have to be complicated to be fun. Here are some affordable, budget-friendly options:
- Find hidden places. Just Google your city plus “hidden places” and see if there are any spots you’ve never heard of that you can go explore.
- Have a picnic in a nearby park. Pack a lunch, bring a blanket, and head to a local park. This way you can also use the playground and other facilities that your park provides.
- Bake together. Choose a new recipe to try out. Have them practicing learning their letters and words by reading the recipe with you. As a family activity for older kids, you can hold a Bake-Off.
- Do a craft together. Teach your kiddo (and maybe yourself) how to hand-sew, knit, or crochet, finger-paint, make sand art, or just color a picture. These all skills that are useful and improve hand-eye coordination, as well. You can even have them help you with a home improvement or DIY project that you have been thinking about. They will love to help!
- Play a game. Whether it be a board game, card game, or video game, try and get into their fun zone. Think about what makes them happiest and spend an hour just playing those games with them.
- Visit the library. Take a look at all the books and check out some new ones. The kids corner of the library sometimes has games and activities and most libraries also may host free special events weekly. Check out your local library’s website to find out more.
- Have a water balloon fight. There is so much more to do when the weather is warm. Take advantage of it and get out side and have a water balloon fight. If you don’t have balloons on hand, use water guns or hoses to get each other wet.
- Go camping in your backyard. If you have a tent, pitch it in the backyard and sleep outside for a night. If you don’t have a tent and aren’t afraid of sleeping outside, just bring a sleeping bag, blankets, or comforter out and sleep under the stars.
- Have a scavenger or treasure hunt. You can hide their own toys or even just household items. Make a treasure map with just pen and paper. A quick sketch should be all you need to start hunting for treasure around your home.
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Start with creating a list of foods or restaurants that your child wants to try. Then get eating!
You can do all of one category of foods or taste new cuisines in different cities. Use your one-on-one foodie outings as a conversation starter to really get your kiddo to open up. Plus, who doesn’t love to eat?
- Visit all the ice cream shops in your city over the whole summer. You could also do this with pizza places, donut shops, or candy stores. Make a list of them all and check them off as you go.
- Create a new recipe together at home or at a kid-friendly cooking class.
- Cook together. You may typically want your kids out of the kitchen when you cook. However, as a fun play date for your kid, invite them in to help you cook. Let them mix, store, measure, add seasonings, etc. They’ll have a ball!
- Try a new cuisine. Depending on their age, your child may have never tried some exotic cuisines before like Thai, Chinese, Indian, Brazilian, etc. Plan a date at a new restaurant so they can expand their palate for all different tastes. Your kids may find they aren’t as picky as they thought and you also get to visit new places around your city.
- Have dessert for dinner. Your child may love this more than you think. Let them in dessert before dinner one night. They may even fill up before wanting any dinner and that’s ok.
- Go to a family-friendly restaurant. Many restaurants offer family friendly events or activities. They may have character breakfasts, a little play area for kids, or even just crayons and a placemat while they wait for dinner.
There’s no better way to spend time together than also making a difference in your community. There are always volunteering options available, you just need to look in the right spot.
Find out what issues are important or interesting to your child. If they don’t have any yet, use this as a teaching opportunity to get them interested in making a difference and helping out.
Just search for volunteering in your town or a nearby underprivileged city to find them. A great way to find opportunities is to use a site like Volunteer Match to help you find a good fit.
Here are some ideas:
- Beach or park clean-up.
- Walk with trash bags and litter sticks around your neighborhood.
- Local food bank.
- Charitable organizations close to your heart. If you reach out to your local chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation, Autism Speaks, Alzheimers Association, etc. they may have volunteer options for you. They often have fundraising events that they would accept volunteers for.
I know your child probably doesn’t want to learn more than he already does at school. However you can make education a lot more fun with these ideas:
- Explore some of your favorite museums. Or, even better, check out the most obscure museum you can find.
- Do a nature walk or nature find at a nature preserve or wildlife refuge, they often have free talks or walks.
- Explore a historic site. You should have places with some type of historical significance. Learn about it and explore together. These can be a fun way to learn some local history.
- Learn about animals. Visit your local petting zoo, aquarium, or zoo to see and learn about new animals. You can also even stop by a nearby farm and see if they will let you see their animals.
- Learn about crops. Go to a local farm to pick blueberries, peaches, apples, or other tasty crops while they learn about them. Make sure you know what is in season!
Get them active, exercising, or just engaged in a sporty activity.
- Just playing catch or a backyard game can be a fun activity.
- Nerf battle using Nerf guns in the house
- Water balloons or Super Soakers. Go crazy with a water fight when it gets hot.
- Trampoline parks are another good way to burn off energy and get silly together.
- Mini golf is another classic family activity. Bonus points if the mini-golf course also has other attractions like an arcade.
- Be a spectator at a sporting event. Take your child to see their favorite professional/college/semi-pro sports team. Get some popcorn and cheer the night away!
- Laser tag centers are really popular right now. Run around with your child as you play along with them.
When it comes to get artsy, there are nearly endless opportunities.
- Paint-your-own ceramics studio. These local shops let you glaze your own ceramics piece to pick up later. You can also find shops that host canvas painting events or other DIY activities. Even your local Michaels, AC Moore, or craft stores often host craft making dates for you and your children.
- Paint your own designs. You can set up canvases at home to create beautiful art with your child. Grab some acrylic paint and choose a subject or just let your imagination run wild. Or put Bob Ross on Netflix and paint along with him. Just be prepared to be covered in paint afterward!
- Live music/Concerts. These are sure to be a crowd pleaser for kids of all ages. If you have tweens or teens, now’s the time to splurge on tickets to see whatever favorite band or singer’s coming through town. If you have little ones, consider a live-action version of their favorite cartoon. Their smiles will be priceless.
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Whatever you choose to do, the important thing with these dates is to follow your kid’s lead. There are plenty of times in parenting when we have to say no, so it’s nice to be able to say yes sometimes.
Even if you don’t really want to go watch that kids movie or have chocolate cereal for dinner, if that’s what your kid wants to do, go along with it. You’ll both create memories that you’ll cherish forever.
About the Author:
Andee is a recent college graduate from Arizona State University with a love of writing, the outdoors, and funky cafes. You can usually find her hiking or planning her next trip. She is passionate about traveling, frugal living, her family, and the perfect cup of coffee. Find her on Instagram as @andee_schmidt or Twitter @andeeschmidt