Instead of planning your next date night with your partner, try a kid date night this weekend! Whether you're a working mom struggling to fit quality time in with your littles or a stay-at-home mom trying to keep things creative with the kids, these Winter-friendly kid date night ideas are perfect cold weather activities whether you've got one kid or four. Besides, who couldn't use a little extra bonding time with their babies, even if they're not "babies" anymore? One requirement — try to take a break from social media, the Internet, and smartphone activities during kid date night so you can focus on the fun and not your News Feed. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules — go ahead and take a few kid date night selfies or perhaps film a family video on your smartphone.
Head out to the bowling alley. Whether your kid is 2 or 15 or if you have one kid or five, bowling is something the whole kit and caboodle can enjoy. Two tips? Be sure to use bumpers if you have to and watch out for "reckless" toddlers — sometimes they swing the ball a little too hard, and who wants to watch a five-pound ball whack into another person's lane?
Go '70s style with a night of roller-skating. Be sure to leave your disco Boogie Nights moves at home, though, if you've got tweens or teens, or they might just sulk in the corner embarrassed by their mom.
Break out the Monopoly, Candy Land, and Bingo. It's time to play — and we won't stop until there's a winner! Game night is excellent for big families as the older kids can help the wee ones. My daughter and I, (I'm a single mom) frequently enjoy a rigorous game of Candy Land, although she hates to lose. No shocker there!
To coax the more reluctant children into participating, put them in control of an essential game function (handling the money in Monopoly), create prizes for the winners, (anything from M&M's to some small change money), and if neither of those options work, opt to use a Wii or other game system to get all kids on board. The whole point of game night is to give everyone a chance to let down his or her hair and be silly. Besides, games can develop all kinds of skills from counting and pattern-making to letter recognition. But really, let's leave school stuff for the weekday — the best thing about games is they're fun!
We LOVE Our Televisions
If your children cannot be removed from the boob tube and you don't have the energy to fight them, make it a retro movie night! Show them your favorites from when you were a kid. Break out the Care Bears, Power Puff Girls, Pee-Wee's Playhouse, and G.I. Joe cartoons, or pick movies you loved as a kid like Charlotte's Web! Whatever your generation's cartoon favorite, it's fun to see these shows and flicks as an adult with a different set of eyes.
One caveat? Since your children or kid is picking out TV for the date night, make sure you say that there are no complaints over the retro picks unless he or she might have a nightmare about Sergeant Slaughter. The whole fun in retro TV night is showing the kids something you used to love, not watching Sophia the First, again.
Old Photo Night
Make it über-retro night, and unearth old photos of you as a kid, and show your kids who you were before you made them. I'm sure the kiddos will just love your big 80's hair or your 90's grunge look. If you have a VCR and some old family videos or even sports meets or plays you did, let your kids get a good laugh at your old cheerleading routine. This is something special — sharing a part of who you were pre-momhood.
You get bonus points if you teach them your old cheers!
Luke, Are You My Father?
Is your family full of Trekkies or Star Wars fans? Perhaps Harry Potter is a shared family love? Get theatrical and spend the evening either reenacting the movies themselves. You can't recite a scene? You and the kids should get into character garb and language, and just enjoy a good dinner as a family. Be sure of course to speak in a Darth Vader voice as you're asking the kiddos what they want to eat. See who can stay in character the longest!
If you've got girlie girls, a boy who digs pink, or teens who think you dress like a dud, let the kids take over your closet and makeup bag, and be their model for the night! This is a great time to whip out the smartphone or if you've got a great camera, to snap some shots of your new "look." If you're the proud momma of a 3- or 4-year-old girl, be prepared to get covered in blue eye shadow . . .
Make your house an indoor campground. Break out the sleeping bags, blanket forts, and s'mores. Listen for the animals you imagine hearing with your wee ones. Point out the stars on the ceiling and ask the kids what they see in their imaginary sky. You can even get some glow-in-the dark constellations and solar system for the ceiling just for the night. Prepare, of course, for you and your little one(s) to sleep that night in your sleeping bags . . . and you may have some unexpected night visitors come for a snuggle with mommy!
Since the Winter has many of us on an indoor lockdown, take the competition indoors. If your kids are die-hard game system fans, make it a family game! Even if you can't stand boxing, baseball or any video game, join in for the kids. They'll love that mommy is playing.
Have extra room? Break out a bowling or golf set. I'd avoid playing anything that involves tossing a ball in the air unless you don't mind the possibility of broken glass — golf is already taking a chance if you've got a strong swinger!
Bring Me to the Beach
Forget building a snowman. Start building a sandcastle indoors! Grab beach towels and your Summer suits, and set up the living room as if you're by the ocean. If you have play sand, buckets, and a nice big Rubbermaid container, you can bring your sand to the beach. Sip refreshing juices and indulge in some ice cream. Aren't you feeling hot already?
Dessert's on Me
Skip dinner and instead, make the kitchen table a dessert table: make your own sundaes or decorate your own cookies, put a hold on anything healthy tonight and instead, indulge in the chocolate.
Breakfast For Dinner
Do you want to keep it a simple but fun night? Get everyone in his or her pajamas and have breakfast for dinner. French toast, pancakes, bacon, and eggs keep the night lazy and don't push the scheduled bedtime. Make it an extracozy night and invite the kids to snuggle in your bed overnight if there's enough room!
A Night Out
Make it a night out and take your favorite people or person out to one of these Winter-friendly places: your most loved dessert place, a movie, indoor minigolf, a play place, or perhaps, a family-style Italian restaurant. Don't worry about giving them too much sugar or getting home too late — it's date night! It's supposed to be special.
No matter what you choose to do with your kids on kid date night, be sure to have fun and don't sweat the small stuff for the night. This is a chance for you to have fun too, Mommy!