Clay and I took the kids to Vertical Diner for a family date. We were a little nervous about how it would all go down, but it was such a blast. We're already planning our next outing. Here are eight things we'll be keeping in mind to make it go smoothly and be as fun and enjoyable as possible for everyone (parents and kids!).
- Length: Keep it short. We probably wouldn't take our kids to a full length meal out; their attention spans couldn't hold up that long. We ordered appetizers and dessert (and had them bring them at the same time) and shared everything. It was just the right amount of time for a 1 and almost-four year old.
- Variety: Don't do the same thing the whole time. This trip was short enough that we didn't really have to worry about that, but on longer outings we make sure they're broken up into mini-activities.
- Interest: Make it fun for all ages (and for the slow moments, stickers and crayons help!). Clay and I enjoyed being in a hip diner and having a (somewhat fragmented, but still enjoyable) conversation, and the kids loved the yummy food (and we loved that it was healthy and local!), coloring pages, nice waitress, and a new place to check out.
- Cheap: Get the most bang for your buck. Since the point of this outing was doing something fun as a family, we didn't need to spend a ton to do so. Only ordering appetizers and dessert worked well for the kids' attention spans as well as our budget!
- Noise: Don't choose somewhere where silence is a virtue, like that time I tried to expose the kids to some culture by taking them to the symphony...
- Attire: Dress up, just a little, but don't stress yourself out. Make it fun! Get everyone shined up and in some good looking outfits; this is a date after all! I wore my new boots (a little freebie from Sorel, thanks guys!). I seriously love them; they're way comfier than this other pair I have with heels, but I still feel put together in them. They're warm, cozy and perfect for this mix of sunny/slushy/cold/warm days we've been having. I've mostly been wearing them with jeans, but have even worn them with a cute, casual dress, wooly tights and a sweater. I have another pair of Sorels that have lasted for years; these seem like they'll hold up equally well. We had the kids wear their nice sweaters and then I wondered when we got there why I had chosen white for both of them, but they made me proud and kept their clothes very clean:) Sam's pants are made from an old work shirt of Clay's.
- Focus: Remember, it's not a romantic date, it's a family date, adjust expectations accordingly:) Clay and I normally focus on each other when we're on a date, naturally, but this time most of our attention was on the kids. But it still felt pseudo-romantic, or at least warm and fuzzy, to be sitting side by side, laughing at our silly kids.
- Teach and Relax: This is a good time to practice good manners (requesting things politely from a waitress, waiting quietly in line, being aware of others etc.), but also a good time to relax and let it slide when behavior isn't perfect.
Do you go on family dates? What have your most successful ones been? Do you have any tips for making it all go smoothly?