My husband and I both travel for our jobs, which can be disruptive to our daughter’s schedule. The parent who is home with her can still do everything the same way as normal, but our daughter thinks Mom and Dad should both be there. To help make these periods of time easier, we’ve re-framed our approach to the absences. Instead of feeling like Mom or Dad is going away and leaving her, she gets to have “date days” with the parent who is home.
What is a “date day?” It’s a time when we do activities with our daughter that are special to her and that parent. A date day for my husband and daughter might look like a haircut, dumplings at their favorite Chinese restaurant, and a visit to the creek in our woods. For me and my daughter, a date day might include a trip to the craft store, an afternoon spent painting, and pancakes eaten on the couch.
A date day can be anything at all, and it doesn’t have to involve spending money. The key is to have one-on-one activities that your child looks forward to, and where you get quality time together. Though we tend to have date days when one parent travels, you can have them any time. In families with more than one child, a date day with Mom or Dad can also help carve out some special bonding time. Now that we’ve implemented date days, my daughter will actually request them!
Ian: ‘I made a song with Lily called literally ‘Daddy and Lily Date Day!’ [just repeat over and over]. This then morphed into ‘Sammy and Riley date day!’ and then ‘Sammy and his litter box date day!’, etc. She sings this all the time.
This last week I was gone on travel for three days, so there were plenty of date day opportunities. My husband and daughter grabbed Chinese food one night while I was gone, and the morning after my return, my daughter and I had a morning tea date. We both had special alone time with our daughter, and now she can’t stop talking about both dates.
What about you – do you have date days with your kids? Have you heard of them before?