It’s been obvious these past two months (since Viv was born) that I need more 1-on-1 time with Isaac (almost 3). He’s quickly coming down with a serious case of the Terrible-twos-meets-middle-child Syndrome.
My other two children get their alone time with me every day. Ari and I get time together while the kids are napping in the afternoons. Viv and I bond at odd hours of the night. Because of middle-child related issues, I just can’t seem to find that time with Isaac anymore, but I think it’s something we both need.
I wanted to take Isaac for a hike today, but due to high winds I took him to the grocery store with me instead… Isaac’s a pretty spazy kid, and loves to be ‘helpful’. That helpfulness resulted in several produce topplings, a close call with a few cartons of eggs, and a lot of time spent unloading all the stuff he’d put in the shopping cart. Not exactly the quality time I was looking for.
There’s something about spending time 1-on-1 outside, especially for a kid with Isaac’s energy level that tops any other date I’ve tried. The fresh air, the lack of distractions, and the way it puts me (and therefore my child) at ease.
I’ve started brainstorming future outdoor dates for me and my kids. Things that work best one-on-one anyway that we can do within an hour or two.
- Take a hike/walk. So simple, but so effective. I find my kids are most talkative while walking, just the two of us.
- Throw rocks. In land or on water, kids (and parents) could do this for hours. It’s almost therapeutic.
- Read books. But not necessarily on your couch. Pack a hammock and a backpack full of books and find a nice natural area to hang out for awhile.
- Play in a river. My kids love going down to splash around in the Truckee River, and since I have not yet mastered keeping an eye on three kids at the river, it’s a great date spot.
- Go for a picnic. Grab some food or pack a lunch and find a shady spot. If its winter bring a little cook stove and chat over some hot cocoa.
- Ride bikes. Our trail-a-bike has been perfect for this. You can bike with your kids and stay within talking distance.
- Spend time in the backyard just playing. Maybe we’ll make a mud lunch for the rest of the family (cheapo tin-baking dishes that you give away Christmas breads in is perfect for backyard mud).
- Float on some water. My kids like to sit on my lap in the cockpit of my kayak while we paddle around some flat water and ‘explore’. Any simple water vessel would work.
- Take pictures. While out on your date take pictures of things you see and find, and a few goofy pics of eachother… because kids are into that whole goofy picture thing.
- Catch frogs. Or other other critters (lizards, bugs, butterflies, etc). Hatching a plan is 1/2 the fun.
- Go on a rock-collecting expedition… or flowers… or sticks. Find and share things we find along the way.
- And speaking of rocks, find a nice big boulder and spot them while they climb all over it.
For more info check out this article on planning a nature date with kids.
Any other ideas for relatively short outdoor dates with young kids? Leave a comment!