My friend, Salima, grew up in a family of 4 girls. She says the best thing her parents did to foster a quality relationship with each of them was to take them on 1:1 dates. Activities were chosen based on the girls’ interests and a rotation schedule fell into place so everybody got their fair share of mom and dad. As a mom, I can’t think of a better way to connect with each little personality.

It doesn’t matter how many children you have, spending quality ‘alone’ time with each of them may require some skills in the organization department (maybe a large daytimer and multi-coloured pens!) but it’s also a fun way to get those creative juices flowing. Three things to keep in mind when planning a date with your l’il person:

1. Their interests – There’s no point dragging your daughter to a museum if she’s just not into it. You might think you’re exposing her to ‘culture’ and stimulating her brain (or whatever you think you’re supposed to be doing as a parent), but if she’d rather be somewhere else, the end result could be a battleground rather than a bonding moment.

2. Your budget – Dates don’t have to be pricey; in fact, they can be absolutely free! The purpose of these outings – catching up with your kid – mostly requires a space conducive to conversation. Think: picnic in the park, nature walk, berry picking…that type of thing. If you’re ok with spending a little money, then you can find inexpensive alternatives to big-ticket items. For example, if your son loves music and drama, you don’t need to dig deep into your pockets for a fancy musical downtown; high school productions are a great option. Just be sure to grab a milkshake or something after for that conversation.

3. Their developmental age –  The developmental age of your child will determine many things: how involved they are in helping you map out the date (from generating ideas to transportation to follow-up activities like making a photo collage of your time together etc), how long the date is going to be and what time of day, and whether or not they want to hang out with you. What?! Yes. It’s true. My 4 year old son could not quite grasp the concept of going out alone with me. I asked him, “Where do you want to go on our date? Do you want to paint pottery or do you want to go to the beach?” He screamed, “BEACH!” And I got all excited, picturing us building sandcastles while the sun beat down on our backs and the seagulls called to each other above the sparkling blue water. “Yay! I can’t wait to spend time alone with you, Aariz!” And then…*frown* “Alone? Why do we have to go alone? I want the WHOLE. FAMILY!” It didn’t matter how many times I explained the concept of a date to him, he wasn’t digging it. So, I’m setting this aside until the fall – we’ll see what happens!

My almost-7-year-old daughter, on the other hand, was ecstatic at having girly time with her mama. (Whew- complex averted!). Her Grade 1 teacher had suggested Clancy’s Tea Cosy in White Rock as the perfect spot. I was happy to learn that there was a place for high tea so close to my home; it’s such a lovely tradition and after our first visit I know we are headed back again!

We walked in to a bright, airy space with sweet Victorian decor and were seated at a table for two by one of the friendly owners.

Their tea selection is extensive and I settled on my favourite comfort smell of vanilla rooibos, while my daughter chose her all-time favourite sweet treat drink: apple juice! She made sure to ask if it would still be served in a fancy teacup. Cheers! Note the raised pinky below. She’s a pro!

But of course, what would high tea be without the tiers of goodies? Can you guess what her favourite part was?

It was such a great experience for us both. We chatted about the all-important topics of BFFs and the tribulations of being eldest daughters…and giggled a lot. There was also the kind of silence that is spurred by the company of the ones you love most – and mouths full of fresh scones.

Did you get a good look?

Have you gone on dates with your kids? How old are they and what did you do? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!