I came up with the idea of wanting to start having Saturday "Date Days" with the kids quite a while ago, but when Paul was working nights as a doorman and days starting up his own business I knew it couldn't possibly be anything more than a dream. Then he started a job that allowed him to stop working days and nights, and his weekends are, for the most part, free.
Almost immediately I brought up the idea of us taking turns every other weekend taking one of the kids out for some one on one time. I tapped it into our schedule so it looked like this: Week 1- Mommy and Sadie, Week 2- Daddy and Maggie, Week 3- Mommy and Patch, Week 4- Daddy and James, Week 5- Mommy and Tessie, Week 6- Daddy and Sadie, Week 7- Mommy and Maggie, Week 8- Daddy and Patch, Week 9- Mommy and James, Week 10- Daddy and Tessie.
Next week will be Week 10 and yesterday was "Mommy and Jamsey Time."
I am so glad we've been able to start this little tradition. Some weeks it gets put on hold (like last Saturday when we were driving across upstate New York and Massachusetts on Saturday) but then we pick up where we left off the next Saturday when we're back in our normal weekly routine.
Each week Paul or I talk with the kids or plan a surprise. The big kids usually have tons of ideas about what they want to do. Especially Sadie.
With the little kids it can be a little tougher. James was the perfect example, when earlier this week he told me he wanted to go out to ride on an airplane and eat at a Wonder Pets restaurant (he finally decided on "Wonder Pets Lobster" also known to non-two year olds as Red Lobster, for a kids Mac and Cheese).
So far our days out have looked something like this:
Sadie and I went to see Beauty and the Beast. We both loved it.
It was extra special because in the past we've been lucky if we sneak out to see a movie once a year, and for our special day we sat in the big comfy seats and Sadie ordered an Ice Cream Sunday and warm chocolate chip cookies. And of course we got dressed up because getting dressed up is one of my princess loving girl's favorite things.
Patrick (and Maggie during her Daddy Day) were both in luck during their weeks because there was a fair in town. I had a hair appointment earlier in the day and Patch begged to tag along (and sat patiently during the entire appointment) and then we were off!
He went on the rides at the mall, we went out to lunch, and then we headed over to the fair to ride the rides until we were both so tired that it was time to head home.
Figuring out Tessie's day was a little tougher, but I started out thinking of Tessie's favorite thing: bread. So we went to Logan's for rolls (and grilled cheese), which I knew she would love, and then we headed to the zoo where she giggled and giggled on the swings and then we walked around and looked at all the animals.
Maggie's day was definitely one of my favorites to plan, and if anything, the challenge was fitting in taking her to all the places that I knew she would love. We started out by driving to the lake. At first I stayed right next to her, but after a while I saw that she understood that we would have to leave if she went outside the buoy lines, and she stayed in them, splashing and playing with her mermaid dolls, while I sat on the edge of the water, ready to jump back in if she looked like she was going to go past the lines. And she didn't.
After the lake we stopped by the store and got her new shoes (she loves shoes and is so hard on hers that she constantly needs new ones), and then we went to her favorite restaurant for a steak burrito bowl. The last part of our day was a trip to the water park, where we swam and pretended to be mermaids together for an hour before heading home.
James' day was by far the hardest to plan, probably because he's with me all the time and since it's just him and Tessie and me in the mornings we pretty regularly do things like go to the zoo, and go the science museum, so doing those things are kind of normal parts of his day.
I finally gave him a few choices and he declared the mall to be his favorite. So we went and ate pretzels, and I got a handful of quarters so he could go on whatever rides in the little mechanical ride area that he wanted (that never happens!) and he played in the mall play area, and then we went to the bounce place, which he had all to himself (he doesn't bounce, but he loves the toy area in the bounce place). Of all the kids he definitely missed having the other kids with him and kept talking about missing everybody else.
We ended the day by going to Red Lobster where he got to pet one of the lobsters, which may have been the highlight of the day.
And that is how one of my new favorite family traditions began. We've always been able to carve out one on one time during the day, but being able to go out and do things that are hard to do in a big group has been so much fun.