Why It's Important to Date Your Kids

What I learned from a date with my sonWhat I learned from a date with my sonLife is hectic, isn't it? One minute you have a newborn, you blink your eyes, and the next minute you have a six-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. How does time pass so quickly?!

Even though we do spend a lot of time together as a family, our entire existence seems dictated by our schedules. We do what "the experts" say and eat dinner together almost every night as a family, with the TV turned off. Our kids aren't over-scheduled with activities, we allow them each to choose one activity per season in which they can participate. Yet despite our best efforts, I still feel like I don't get enough chances to just hang out with my kids, let alone hang out with either of them individually.

Related: 20 simple ways to show your kids you love them

This past weekend, my husband and I decided that since we actually had nothing planned for the first time in what felt like months - no baseball games, no dance recitals, no family reunions, no pressing home improvement project - that we would each take one of our kids on a one-on-one date. My husband and daughter left to spend a day together alone, while my son and I plotted a day of fun together.

It was one of the most fun things I've done in a long time and I actually learned a lot about myself and my son. Here are 5 things I learned from a date with my son:

1. I can survive a few hours without my iPhone
When I'm out with both my kids, I do zone out and check my email, texts, and Facebook too often. Before the date, I decided that instead of posting fun pictures of our mother-son date on Instagram or Tweeting about our adventures, I would instead just have fun with my son.

Related: 14 rules for dating my teenage son

2. My son can be trusted to make good decisions on his own
When I invited my son on the date, I told him he could choose any restaurant he wanted. I braced myself, waiting for him to say "McDonald's," but he shocked me and chose a sushi restaurant. While we ate our salmon rolls, I told him that I was surprised that he chose sushi over fast food or pizza and he said, "Mom, you don't go McDonald's on a date." My handsome young man also wore a collared shirt and a pair of his nicer shorts for our date and I didn't even have to ask him.

3. My son has a lot to say
So often I feel frustrated that my son isn't much of a talker, like a lot of guys I know. I ask him a million questions about his interests, but so often he answers with one word responses or eye rolls. Other times he has to compete for my attention with his sister, as I'm constantly reminding them to take turns talking. When he had my full, undivided attention, though, this kid about chatted my ear off. It was great to have a real conversation with him.

Related: 8 things I never thought I'd say... until I became a mom

4. I am really lucky
It's easy to get overwhelmed with the day in, day out details of everyday, like sibling bickering and back-talking kids. Our date helped me to focus on one of those great things in my life, my son. He is a fantastic kid and I'm so glad that I got to spend an entire afternoon hanging out, just the two of us.

5. We need to do this more often
After our dates, my husband and I agreed that the kids had a great time - and so did we! They felt special getting the one on one attention. We'll switch kiddos next time and each have a girls and boys day out.

- By Jennifer Doyle

For 12 things your kids MUST see you do, visit Babble!


7 things you should NEVER say to a child
The 10 biggest lies we tell our kids
5 things every mom wants to hear
20 ridiculous vintage ads featuring children
17 products no mother should live without

Jennifer DoyleJennifer DoyleJennifer Doyle isn't sure what she wants to be when she grows up. For now she fancies herself a writer, editor, and photographer. She's the Editorial Director for Story Bleed Magazine and writes about her feelings on her personal blog, Playgroups are No Place for Children. In her spare time, she is wife, mother, and runner.

Babble Voices | Babble.comGet updated on the 50 most interesting names in parent blogging. Follow Babble Voices on Facebook and Twitter.