In my original 40 Mom-Daughter Date Ideas post, I shared ideas categorized by budget and mentioned that quality time should also take into consideration your child’s love language. Today, I’m making coming up with Date Ideas for Your Child’s Love Language even easier by providing a brand new list of quality time activities!
Mom-Daughter Date Ideas Based on Love Languages
“Love Languages” is a concept by Gary Chapman (popularized in his book, Five Love Languages) that suggests that there are 5 love languages and that everyone has a couple that are their preferred ways of both giving and receiving love.
The 5 Love Languages are:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
Most people have one or two primary love languages. For example, my love languages are 1. physical touch; 2. words of affirmation; 3. receiving gifts. These are the ways that I most feel loved and am best at expressing love. It may seem weird to someone whose love languages are quality time or acts of service, but I actually don’t really like spending lots of time with people, and I don’t naturally connect that when someone does something for me, that it’s an act of love.
For example, my dad cut my lawn this week – my brain processes that as a nice thing for him to have done, but it doesn’t feel me with the feeling of being loved as much as if he had said something nice to me (even though cutting the lawn was a lot more work!)
However, acts of service are one of my dad’s main love languages – him cutting my grass is his way of expressing love, so I have to make an effort to connect his acts with him showing his love for me.
My daughter loves quality time. Nothing makes her happier than spending time with people she loves, and I’ve had to be really conscious of ensuring that I show her love in the way that she best receives it. (I am better at cuddling, back rubs, words of affirmation, and giving gifts!)
Loving someone in the way that they best receive love – loving them how they want to be loved – is such a transformative thing.
Often, when people say they feel unloved by a parent or partner the other person responds by listing all of the things that they’ve done that show their love. (And then often, there are hurt feelings because the recipient didn’t appreciate what the giver did/gave.) What’s missing is that when we insist on showing love in the way that we feel most comfortable expressing it, the other person may not feel loved.
If you don’t know your love language or your child’s love language already, take a few minutes and reflect. What times has your child most lit up? What requests for love does your child normally give? (My daughter asks for crafts and cuddles.) If you can’t figure it out, not a problem – just try a variety of the below ideas from all of the categories or suggest them to your child and see which ones they are most excited about.
When Your Child’s Love Language is Words of Affirmation
For this one, think of activities or environments your child excels in or would enjoy, and look for opportunities to compliment and reassure them. Also, activities that allow for good conversation are great for this love language. Make sure your compliments are genuine and well-timed.
- A special treat at a cafe or restaurant (spend time talking and affirming who they are)
- Whether your child is great at sports or could use some encouraging in that area, try out a batting cage, bowling alley, or other sports activity and lay the compliments on thick.
- Fishing or other quiet nature activity with lots of talking
- Scavenger hunt with hints that compliment things about them
- Do a creative activity like a drop-in improv class or paint night that you know they will excel at (let them shine)
- PDA: take out an ad in the newspaper, post on social media or do something that affirms something awesome about your kid – and show them. (For parents of older kids, make sure you don’t add anything embarrassing that you find cute!)
- Do something special to acknowledge an accomplishment and make it clear that the special thing is because of their accomplishment – try to bring it up and compliment them on it at least 3 times. (For example, take them out for ice cream and mention it when you’re on the way, while they are picking out their flavor, and while they are enjoying it.)
- Ask them to teach you something – whether about a topic they know more about, or just something they are loving. Maybe it’s just showing you the latest dance move.
When Your Child’s Love Language is Quality Time
Nearly ALL of these activities in this post will be perfect for the child who likes quality time (and the ideas in our original post, too!) but here are some special activities just for the kids who love quality time.
(Note: it is important to note that people whose love language is quality time are often hurt if you change or cancel plans. If you must do that, let them know as soon as possible and immediately reschedule or “fix” the issue, reaffirming to them that you prioritize your time together and that time together matters to you.)
- Creative class – check to see if you have a drop-in art studio or pottery guild in your area
- Have them show you a hobby or activity they love that you haven’t tried yet (Pokemon Go? Trampoline Park?)
- Pick out a book or a movie series that you will explore just the two of you – even if your child is “too old” to be read to, you can have a Mom and Daughter Book Club where you grab a cup of tea and talk about the books (or even just hang out reading)
- Set a special “date time” and don’t break it – this one might be tricky for some families, but even an early morning “tea date” or “car dates” (in between activities) can be really special
- Dig through your memory box or old photo albums and share special stories about the items in it
- Go for a drive or a walk, listening to music you both like
- Themed family nights – my daughter LOVES these. I do a simple recipe based on a movie or book and we enjoy the meal while watching the movie (or read the book afterwards). It doesn’t have to be complicated – think, spaghetti for Lady and the Tramp, adding some star sprinkles onto hot chocolate for a Star Wars movie night, etc.
- Get dressed up and do something special together – even if it’s just a picnic in the park!
When Your Child’s Love Language is Receiving Gifts
This love language gets a bad rep, but there are plenty of ways to show your gift-appreciating child love through gifts without spoiling them.
First of all, people whose love language is gifts don’t just want any gifts – they value special tokens that show that you understand them. The other side of this is that gifts that don’t show thought or personal care can be hurtful. I would rather get a scoop of my favorite ice cream than receive an expensive gift that isn’t my taste/doesn’t suit my lifestyle.
Gifts also don’t need to be extravagant – they are just symbolic gestures that show appreciation and love. My daughter gets just as excited over a $300 doll as she does about a postcard in the mail or me picking up her favorite cereal at the grocery store.
(For the ideas that seem like “just gifts,” pair them with some quality time to “make it a date.”)
- Take them to a book store or library, read a few books, and then pick out a special one to bring home (let them have a say, even if it’s horrible literature)
- Take them for a walk or drive to get a special treat
- Surprise them with a thoughtful addition to a special collection
- Send them mail – whether just a postcard or ordering a small thing online, the act of receiving some thoughtful mail will be treasured.
- Pick up a special treat for them while shopping – even if you’re at the grocery store! A small token to show that you were thinking of them
- Give them something special of yours that you know they will like – whether it’s something from your childhood or something from your closet. Spend some time telling them about it and setting it up in their room/helping them try it on
- Give them a gift card for an activity that you can do together – whether it’s a physical activity or even if it’s just going for ice cream!
- Spend time together making something special for them – whether it’s learning how to sew or making something special for their bedroom.
When Your Child’s Love Language is Acts of Service
Some children need to feel cared for through “acts of service” to feel loved. Try to think of a time that someone did something for you that was nurturing or took a chore off of your list that they knew you were dreading. Showing that you thought of them and took time out of your day to do something special for them makes these kids feel amazing.
(But keep in mind, not every act is created equal and “acts of service” that typically fall under your jobs as a parent do not have the same “loving” effect, unless you do something to have a special touch.)
- Breakfast in Bed (and stick around to chat one-on-one!)
- Make a batch of their favorite treats and take them on a picnic
- Teach them something they’ve shown interest in (fishing, an instrument, rollerblading)
- Have them teach you something that they are good at – and show a dedication to learning.
- Help them with a passion project – from gathering the materials, to the final steps, dedicate yourself to their interests for awhile
- Do some of their chores for them as a surprise, and then spend the time that they “saved” doing something special just the two of you
- Take them somewhere that they love and you barely tolerate – and make an effort to have fun. They’ll know that this is for them
- Show that you took the time to create an activity/date that they will really love. Maybe by adding a theme to the night, or making special reservations that show forethought (many restaurants that accept reservations would be open to arranging a special delivery or a place card for your child – and these little touches mean the world)
When Your Child’s Love Language is Physical Touch
Some parents are really uncomfortable with showing physical affection (or showing it beyond kissing on the cheek/forehead and hugs) – and that can be very damaging for these kids because it teaches them that the way that they love is wrong.
Rubbing your child’s back, drawing circles on their belly, playing with their hair, foot massages, etc, are all great ways to warm into showing love through physical touch. Lots of kids also enjoy wrestling (not just boys)!
- Go for manicures or pedicures together – my daughter loves the hand massage portion of this!
- Go for a couples massage – yup! We’ve done this, and it was so much girly fun!
- Watch a movie – at home or in a theatre with joining seats and have a good cuddle
- Do their hair before going out for a special date – and spend some time just playing with their hair or giving a little scalp massage like they do at nice salons
- Hold hands while spending time together
- Give them a massage! My daughter loves when I massage either her feet or her back with a bit of almond oil. If your child is older and maybe uncomfortable with this, they may still like going for a “couples massage” where you get to just engage in some girl talk as you both get relaxing massages (My daughter and I did one and it was so cute hearing her giggle through the massage)
- Do a physical activity that involves touch – a dance class, rock climbing, etc.
- Playgrounds often involve physical touch – hold hands while going down a slide, gently push on swings (or if they are little enough, let them sit on you or find a park with a “family swing), etc.
Whew! Now, I’m curious to hear from you – what are your favorite ways to spend time with your children? What date ideas have your children loved the most (and which ones were duds)?