Day-to-day life can be busy and hectic and overwhelming, but it’s unbelievably important to carve out some time with your kids. Just a short period of time spent together can mean the difference between a close bond and having trouble communicating with each other. Choose to make that quality time a priority by scheduling regular one-on-one dates with each child, and then mark them out on your family calendar to let your kids know that these dates are important and guaranteed. Make the commitment (if even occasionally!) to put down the phone, get away from the TV, and otherwise unplug, and check out these fun date ideas for dads and kids.
Have a Catch
These words may remind you of Field of Dreams and that is the intention! Whether you have a boy or a girl, spend a little time in the yard (or any open green space) throwing a ball around. Play traditional “catch,” or create your own game together (how many times can you clap after throwing it in the air?), but spend that time together, one-on-one.
Wash the Car (and Have a Water Fight)
Sometimes you need to get something done while spending a little time together – and this is the perfect activity. Take a few hours and wash the car with your child. Let them show you how they like to wash and teach them little things along the way. Laugh and talk while doing it, making sure that communication is the priority. At the end, spray your child and let them spray you back. Have fun with it!
Visit a Comic Book Store
Many children enjoy superheros and superhero movies, but they may not have visited a comic book store. Find a local store and look through the comics with them. Find special comics that may be of your child’s favorite superhero and introduce them to yours. At the end of your visit, give your child two or three dollars to purchase a few comics from the $.99 or clearance section.
Go Out for Ice Cream
Does your area have a self-serve ice cream or frozen yogurt shop? Take your child out for a few hours and have them make a “sundae” for both of you to share. Buy one cup, let them choose the flavor(s) and toppings and split the finished product! Talk about what observations you’ve made about what they have chosen, their likes and dislikes and why they may not have chosen other toppings. Bonus points if it’s a nice enough day to eat outside and you can find shapes in the clouds together.
Have a Tea Party
There is nothing cooler than a father who is willing to have a tea party with his child. This is an activity that you’ll want to do if your son or daughter is interested – don’t push it if it isn’t their thing! If they are into it, let your child “dress you up” (whether that means wearing a suit or letting them put makeup on you!) and be sure to invite all of the stuffed animals! You can make real tea or just use water, but be sure to include a few cookies or your party won’t be complete!
Cooking together is a great way to bond! Plan this for a day where you have a little extra time. Sit down and create a menu and a grocery list, then head out to the store to shop together. This can be anything from a fancy dinner to macaroni & cheese with fruit and baby carrots – just do it together. And don’t forget the dessert! If you can, take the time (while the food is cooking) to put together an official “menu” for the rest of your (family) dinner guests!
Play Video Games
I know that the point is to get away from the electronics, but this is a whole other ballgame if you’re doing it together! Have your child pick their favorite video game (or three!) and teach you how to play it. They’ll have as much fun watching you make mistakes as they will spending the afternoon together. If you don’t have a two player game, play something like Mario Bros. or Zelda where you can take turns and share a common goal.
Draw a Picture of Each Other
If you really don’t have a penny to spare, this is a great bonus option! Take an hour and draw a picture of each other! No cell phones, no television, just you, some crayons, paper and your child. While you’re drawing, tell your child what features they got from each parent, what you think makes them most beautiful (inside and out) or a story from your childhood.
Spending time with your child doesn’t have to be expensive, you just have to make the time. Your child wants to know who you are, and they really want you to know who they are. Spending a few hours to bond helps open that door to bigger subjects in the future. Do you have other ideas of cheap dates for dads with their kids? I’d love to hear them! And be sure to read my list of fun dates for mom and child as well!