20 Affordable "Dates" for Moms and Kids
As is true with any date, the key to success is good conversation. While it's important to have fun, the main goal of a date is to bring two people closer together. So while you're out with your child, talk to them. Ask them about their lives: find out if they're worried or upset about anything, where they see themselves in 20 years, what they're looking forward to the most in their lives, what they like the most about themselves, etc. Listen to their answers, and encourage them to ask you questions about yourself. Remember, you're on a date, and the purpose of a date is to get to know one another better!
Enjoy a show – Believe it or not, there are some cheap ways to go to a movie. If it's the weekend or the summer and you have the day off, try to catch a matinee which can be almost half the price of an evening show. Or, check to see if there's a dollar theater in your area.
Dinner – Try to take them to a nice dinner somewhere that they don't get to go to often. Keep a look out for buy-one-get-one-free coupons, or just order appetizers! Encourage your child to try something new and exciting.
Bowling – Check with your local bowling alley to see if they have special nights with discounted fees. Have fun teaching your kid how to bowl and showing them your own bowling skills (or lack thereof).
Take a hike – Lace up your hiking boots and head for a nearby park. Climb trees, explore, collect leaves and rocks – indulge the kid in you! The most meaningful moments with our kids usually occur when we can set aside our "adult" worries and focus on the joy of simple things, just as kids do.
Share their hobby – Find out what it is they love to do, and do it with them! Head to the baseball field to throw some pitches, take some paints and easels to a park to capture the landscape, or go to the library and spend hours reading and talking about books together. Sharing in your child's favorite activity with them will show them that you care about their interests, as well as allow you to spend time with them while they're at their best. Make sure you let them know how proud of their talent you are!
Ice skating – This activity can be a little pricey, but it just might be worth the splurge to learn something new together. Be warned, you'll probably fall, but you and your child will have so much fun that you'll barely feel the pain.
Visit somewhere that's special for you and your spouse, such as where you had your first date or where you got engaged, and tell your child the story of that momentous day. He or she will love hearing a story about the beginning of their parents' lives together, especially in the place where it all began!
Watch the sunset – Drive somewhere with a good view and marvel at the beauty of nature together.
Go-carting –This can get expensive if you do more than one ride, but if you just get a two-seater car and let your kid drive, you can keep the cost at a minimum. Just sit back and relax and enjoy the ride, no matter how scary it is!
Picnic – Let your child help you pack a lunch of their own choosing, and take them to the park with a blanket and some books for a few lazy hours.
Roller skating – If you have your own roller skates or blades, you can take a trip in your neighborhood, taking a break on a bench for a nice long conversation. Or you could visit a local roller skating rink – most rinks have discount or family nights where you can get special deals on admission and rental fees.
Take them to the mall and let them pick out anything they want under $10 – They'll learn to prioritize their wants and spend money wisely, as well as have something special to remember their night with you by! Make a night of it – don't let them buy the first thing they want, suggest going to other stores first and then coming back for that item if they don't find anything they like more. While you're there, take a break in the food court for a pretzel or ice cream cone.
Go to the beach –If you have a beach within driving distance, pack some snacks and towels and hit the road! Roll the windows down and blast some fun music, play in the water with them and build a sandcastle. You may want to consider buying a disposable waterproof camera for some underwater fun!
Go on a bike ride – Find a trail or just ride on the streets in your neighborhood. Stay at their pace so you can keep up a conversation while you ride. Challenge them to a race and let them win.
Visit a park – Take some stale bread to feed the ducks, and play on the playground. Don't be afraid to try out the swing and the slide for yourself, your kid will have more fun if you play with them!
Play "name that cloud" – Take a blanket and some snacks into the back yard (make sure the rest of the family knows the two of you are off-limits for awhile!) on a blue cloudy day and let your imagination run wild.
Go to a planetarium and be amazed by the solar system. Check your local paper or planetarium website for special coupons or discount nights.
Fly a kite – If it's a windy day, stop by the dollar store and let your child pick up some fun kites, then head to the park or the beach to fly them.
Visit a museum or historic site in your area – Some have free admission for children, and some have free admission on certain days. This is a great educational as well as bonding opportunity!
Play putt-putt – You'll be surprised how much fun miniature golf can still be, even after all these years! Remember not to nitpick your child's golfing skills while you play; just relax and enjoy yourself and don't worry about keeping score.
By Kati Raymer
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