As we entered those tween years between 10 and 12 with our daughter, our little girl began changing, hormones started flowing, emotions began to roller-coaster, and our patience increasingly began to wear thin. She and I butted heads a LOT, and she started acting out more all the time. I was finishing up grad school – while still working full-time – and realized that her behavior was her crying out for more of my attention. That’s when we started up Mommy-Daughter Date Night.
When I was growing up, there were five of us kids, and my mother had set date nights with each of us to make sure we all felt like we got the proper attention she knew we wanted and needed from her. I LOVED the mommy-daughter date nights with my mom, and I still look forward to doing them as an adult and mom myself when she makes it into town once or twice a year (sometimes, we do mommy-daughter trips or mini getaways, and they’re the best!). Her example is what inspired me to try this out with my own kiddo.
Were the mommy-daughter date nights everything I dreamed them to be at first? Heck, no. She resisted and had an attitude at first with me. After several weeks of standing Wednesday Mommy-Daughter Date Nights in the books, my husband overheard her on the phone with her biological dad in her room talking horribly about me and saying, “I don’t know why mom is trying to do things with me all of a sudden. It’s kind of pathetic.” When I heard this, it crushed me. Could I let her know that? No. I let her know that her words were hurtful and that I loved her and would continue doing our date nights together every week regardless. I chose to put my feelings aside, make it about her, and do what I knew would be best for her in the long run.
The only two stipulations to mommy-daughter date night was that she had to have all her chores and homework complete before we got to each Wednesday. Even if she hadn’t, we still spent time together. Instead of her choosing what we did and letting it cost any money, we would work on constructive projects around the house together. We’d still be spending quality and intentional time together, but I wasn’t rewarding poor choices or behavior.
She’s an official teenager now, and most of our date nights over the past few years have involved a trip through Starbucks drive-thru to get my shaken espresso and her Pink Drink. It makes me smile, because my own mom and I almost always get Starbucks as well when we’re together. This past week, we shopped for cute Spring outfits to do a special photo session with my stepmom for a three-generations’ girls’ day, we ate good food, got our Starbucks (of course), I let her talk about whatever she wanted, and we made some great memories together.
If you don’t make individual time for your kids (and your partner/spouse) every week, I encourage you to start doing so. Have your grown-up date night, have your mommy-daughter date nights, and/or have your mommy-son date nights. Dads, do it with your kids, too! It made a huge difference to me in my younger years, and it’s made a significant difference with my now-teen. I promise you it will be worth it. 😉