The definition of a date is [according to Google] “a social or romantic appointment or engagement.” To further clarify, romantic is defined as “conducive to or characterized by the expression of love.”
There you have it. A date is really an opportunity to engage and socialize with someone and show them how much you love them. Doesn’t that sound like something your child would want to do with you?
Last week my four-year-old son took me out on a date. He insisted on wearing his Sunday Best, complete with a tie and crazy, cool spiked hair. I fancied up from head to toe, wearing my favorite heels and I even dug out the reclusive curling iron.
All week leading up to our date, my son had been talking about it, the excitement in his voice coming out in squeaks and giggles. So when the big night finally arrived, he was over-the-moon thrilled and eagerly said goodbye to his little sister as he skipped out the door.
I don’t know what it was– the delightfully cheesy movie we watched through our popcorn crunching, the chocolate lava cake we indulged in after our dinner out on the town, or the “way-past-our-bedtime” cruise through the dark neighborhood streets with him meticulously directing my turns from the backseat—but the entire night was magical.
If the chocolate cake wasn’t enticingly persuasive enough, here are 10 reasons to date your child.
- One-on-one time is invaluable.
When was the last time you really got to spend alone time with your child—no rushing, no one fighting for your attention, no stress, no schedule—with just the two of you enjoying each other’s company? For me, it doesn’t always happen that often. Sometimes it feels good just being with them and knowing my only responsibility in that moment is to hold their hand.
- You really get to see your child and notice the little things.
Soak in that adorable nose, the tiny freckles dancing on their skin, the way their eyes twinkle when you mention how late you’re staying up past bedtime (even if it is only a half hour). They are only small for so long and I’m guessing they won’t want to date you forever…at least that is the hope.
- It lets them see that mom isn’t really a crazy, over-protective, demanding psycho who’s lost all capacity to have fun.
Maybe it was the after-high from the giant chocolate cake that he devoured, but I swear my son looked at me differently that night. He genuinely enjoyed being with me, as did I with him. I wasn’t refereeing a sibling rivalry, pleading with a two-year-old to poop in the potty as opposed to the floor, while simultaneously arguing the nutritional value of a banana versus a cinnamon bun flavored Toaster Strudel. The weight of the world was momentarily lifted and I was free to just relax and be me.
- It’s a teachable moment– a life lesson on kindness.
I asked my son if he would open the door to the theatre for me, which he not only did, but continued to do the entire night. It was like it was his special job and he loved doing it. I slipped him my debit card at each destination and he “paid” for each expense. The pride in his face as he handed over his payment each time was priceless. As we sat on a bench outside, waiting for our table at the restaurant, I told him how handsome he looked and he professed how pretty I looked as well. The depth of his charm and benevolence is delightfully adorable.
- You get to enjoy your child—without the “baggage”
At no point during the evening did I hear a single whine, endure an overly dramatic pout, or dry an angry tear. We were together, having fun and all we could be was happy. It was so refreshing to skim off all the difficult, although age-appropriate, nuances that go along with the ebb and flow of a young child’s mood for one night, and get to the good stuff—the joy, the adventure, the playfulness.
- They feel special and valued.
My son took notice that I put effort into my appearance just for him. He appreciated that I let him choose where we would eat and what we would get for dessert. Just putting the label, “date,” on the evening brings a certain aura of distinction and importance.
- You don’t need a babysitter!
My husband was on “Daddy duty,” which he sincerely enjoys and took our daughter to a father/daughter dance that night. It was a win-win for everyone.
- All the things you love about them just come out in full bloom, and you’re able to savor every moment and keep it all for yourself.
For me it’s his silly light-hearted laugh, his love of chocolate and the craziness that ensues immediately following its consumption, his analytic and relentless questioning, and his beautiful, kind heart that shines through his toothy grin.
- You still get a full-night’s sleep.
Being out after dark is a late night for him, so when we didn’t roll up the driveway until almost 8:30, my son was beyond fulfilled.
- Experts say the key to a successful marriage is to never stop “dating.” I think this might just work for parenting, too.
Dating really is about communication, undivided attention, and enjoying each other while sharing some laughter and fun. Why not extend the dating invitation to your littlest loves?