USUALLY LOOK ROUGH‘am not great with fashion’.
- My floors are
DIRTY‘not always spotless’.
HAVE NO CLUE HOW TO DECORATE‘desperately depend on my friends to tell me what to choose for my own house’.
Yes, I’ve got 99 problems.
But, “Quality Time’ with my kids ain’t 1!
I am a HUGE advocate for doing whatever it takes to be present in your child’s life. Aside from pointing them towards a dependance on the Lord, I believe it’s one of the most valuable things you could ever give your child.
Recently, a friend asked me for real, tangible DATE IDEAS for KIDS. So, I thought it would be FUN to put a short list together of my personal favorites! (Most are free and available anywhere, but I also added a section just for Northwest Arkansas- my old neck-of-the-woods. I’d LOVE to start a LIST for GEORGIA SPOTS soon!)
I hope this list can offer inspiration and ideas to go have FUN with your child!
FREE & FUN:
- Hit all the PLAYGROUNDS! With a young child, swing and climb! For a older child, make-up an obstacle course! Either way, just PLAY!
- Enjoy your LIBRARY. Check out your local library’s website for fun events like story-times, therapy dogs, free programs and guest speakers! (Sign-up online for notifications of free events!)
- Explore a FARMER’S MARKET. It’s already a great place to people-watch and pet dogs, but give your child five dollars and ask for ‘help’ finding a certain fruit or vegetable. Allow your child to find the ‘best’ piece and pay for it!
- Plan a SCAVENGER HUNT. The SKY is the LIMIT! I’ve spent hours and hours thinking through areas… hiding clues… running around… and making GREAT memories on scavenger hunts!
- Have a LEGO competition. Laying on the floor with a child (phone.AWAY.always), can be one of the most relaxing times of your day! Try making-up a category (ie: dog parks; food trucks; vacation homes; camp grounds, etc.) and give allow 10 minutes for each person to create their own interpretations.
- Plan a YARD SALE day. Not only is it fun to run house-to-house in spring and fall neighborhood yard sales, it’s a great money-teaching tool! Give your child $5 and allow them to spend it on anything they like (except old, dirty, gross, stuffed animals). Through yard sales, my son has learned the fine art of negotiation and buying low/selling higher on eBay.
- Take a BIKE RIDE. For younger kids or inexperienced riders, the shorter the better. (Also, don’t forget the water!) If you can find a half-way stop that’s a playground or ice-cream shop, the ride will be even better!
- Take a LONG WALK. Some of my favorite memories are from long walks. Whether you like to walk quietly or look for ‘cool stuff’ on the road, you’ll be surprised how much a child opens-up when you’re engaged in this activity together. (Check out “The Listening Walk” from the library.)
- SERVE together. Not only does this build family memories, it’s probably one of the best practices to teach your child about selflessness and giving.
- Go “SCOOPING” in a creek. Wear old shoes and bring a towel. You’re SURE to find some treasures, but things are going to get messy!
- COOK together. Maybe it’s me, but there’s not much that brings two people together more than making a meal. (If you feel challenged in this area, I blogged some ideas for making it more fun: https://christymartinphotography.com/kidstir/ )
- Share a SCOOTER. Yes, you may be too big… but, sharing a seat in their favorite outdoor toy is half the fun!
- Discover a new city near you! There’s not much I love more than walking around a new place with a child! It’s always eye-opening to observe the things adults might normally miss.
- Learn as many CARD GAMES as possible! I’m a minimalist, but I proudly keep a deck of cards in my purse at all times. Times that I’m tempted to pull out my phone, instead, I round-up a kid or two for a card game!
- CREATE A GARDEN.
- BUILD A FIRE-PIT.
- Do a DEVOTIONAL together. It helps me to set up a weekly place and time. (And, spoken like a true food-girl: planning it around breakfast, coffee or a snack only makes it better!)
- Dirty dog?!? There’s not much more entertaining than a DOG BATH! (For around $5-10, you can find places to supply the bath, shampoo, towels and even brushes!) Wear old clothes and be prepared to LAUGH as you leave smelling like a wet-dog!
- Pitch a TENT! Camping is a chore, but the memories are priceless!
- Find your own seasonal tradition. GATHERING WILD FLOWERS, PICKING STRAWBERRY and PUMPKIN PATCHES are priceless!
- Customer Appreciation EVENTS: If you keep a close eye out, you’re SURE to find places like Chick-fil-a and Tacos 4 Life offering FREE food (and fun) for simply dressing up on certain days!
- Find FUN in EVERYTHING! Whether you’re playing a BOARD GAME, FISHING, playing in the POOL or jumping on a TRAMPOLINE, SEEK OUT ways to LAUGH, TOUCH and PLAY with your child!
WORTH the INVESTMENT:
- Ice Cream or Coffee Date. Pull out some fun questions or a deck of cards. Either way, be prepared to just SIT and enjoy one another’s company with no distractions.
- If you like food, book a FOOD TOUR or COOKING CLASS! (Sports? Broadway? Comedians? Art? Fishing? Movies?) When you’re sharing common interests, special memories are ALWAYS a smart ‘investment‘!
- Plan a THEMED DINNER! Allow your child to plan the food, send the invites and cook. Ross chose a Mafia themed party. Rayna chose a pasta + flower-making-headband night.
- CRYSTAL BRIDGES: It’s not JUST an art museum! Check the weekend schedule for FREE “Family Fun” art-making! BONUS: Park in overflow parking and grab the backseat on the golf cart shuttle to start the day off with a big laugh!
- AMAZEUM: Don’t be tempted to follow your child around…put your phone away and PLAY! (FREE most Wednesdays, 4-7:30pm. Confirm weekly HERE.)
- DEFY (formally, High Rise): If you’re physically-able, stash that phone away and JUMP with your child!
- CLIMB BENTONVILLE: I’m a huge fan of any activity that requires team-work for success! With a little work and time, you and your child can be belaying one another climb 50 feet to the top!
- Pinnacle Hills PROMENADE: Grab some bubbly-tea (sample those ‘pearls’ for fun!) and make-up games inside stores you normally wouldn’t go in. (For example, Williams and Sonoma: “If you had $1000 to spend…” or Bath & Body Works: “What’s the BEST and WORST smelling candle?”)
- FREE Yoga: There’s nothing like
LAUGHING‘bonding’ over the Crow-Pose! Northwest Arkansas has SO many FREE Yoga events for the entire family!
- Walmart AMP: No matter what type of music makes you sing, chances are you can find it in NWA! (Can you keep a secret? Although I’ve purchased plenty of tickets for an actual seat inside the amp, there’s also been times when I sat outside on the grassy hill outside the venue for FREE!)
- The Gathering Place: It may be in Tulsa, but it’s totally worth the 2-hour drive! Dress comfy and pack light! (Don’t forget a towel and water shoes because there’s a great water area.)
- TANYARD CREEK: What kid, OR adult, can resist a spotless, easy hike with a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole at the end?!?!
- HIKE! CAMP! YURT! There’s a reason Arkansas is called “The Natural State.” Not only is it beautiful, I consider it very easy to explore. Here’s a few of my favorite places:
…HIKING: Tanyard Creek, Crystal Bridges/Compton Trails, Devil’s Den
…CAMP: Devil’s Den; Roaring River; Buffalo River
…YURT: Such a FUN and EASY way to CAMP! Click HERE for info!
- Dress for PLAY!
Most may not believe this, but I use to dress
TRENDY‘better than I do now’. However, I realized the better I tried to look, the less I wanted to play (and get dirty) with my kids. (I shared this tip with Matthew many years ago, and he realized it was true for him too.)
My GOAL: Dress comfortable enough where I have NO excuse not to play, chase, hide-and-seek or lay on the ground with a child at any given moment.
- Hide that PHONE!
Yes, phones are important and needed. However, it’s safe to say they are also a huge distraction and time-stealer. Being INTENTIONAL about putting your phone away to play. This will keep your attention focused on what’s right in front of you- the MOST important thing!
- Intentionally CHOOSE PLAY!
…SWING instead of scroll!
…CHASE instead of sit!
…EXPLORE instead of clean!
You’ll NEVER regret the times you choose FUN with your CHILD!
- LESS IS MORE!
Friends (whether it be yours or your child’s) are important. But having friends around totally changes the dynamic of the well-intended special time with your child. I am apologetically (VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY) selfish if I am planning time with my child.
Resist the urge to make it a group event. Instead, embrace that special, meaningful time with your child ALONE!
(I know it’s sometimes tough finding someone to watch siblings, but sometimes having a brother or sister around is often more distracting than a friend!)
- Create TRADITIONS and snap a PHOTO! There are so many studies that show how children’s memories are often tied to the photographs they have of that moment. Although I love leaving my phone behind on most dates, I’m still a BIG fan of having a way to capture these special moments for them to always treasure!
- ASK (fun, hard, silly & deep) QUESTIONS! If you’re being intentional with your time, make sure you’re also intentional in your conversation.
(I’m looking forward to composing a GEORGIA LIST soon! So, stay tuned!)