For twelve years, I was a single mother. I was crazy busy working part-time and attending college full-time and I lived on a very tight budget. I couldn’t even think about hiring a babysitter to go out on my own let alone take one of my children out on their own. I am now married and have even more children (seven teenagers) and they are old enough not to need a babysitter anymore; however, now my children are running in seven different directions at once.

We have to be purposeful when planning time with our children. Remember, children don’t care what you do with them or how much money you spend on them, they just want to spend time with you. You have to run errands anyway, so why not turn it into an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with one of your children? Depending on the age of your child, there are plenty of opportunities to include them in activities that you are involved in already and spend time with them as well.

Date Tip #1: Stay up Late with Mom!

When my children were too young to leave on their own, one of our favorite “dates” would be staying up late after the other children went to bed. This usually was only about half an hour later than normal but this made it a special treat. They not only got to stay up late but they got to spend alone time with mom. If I didn’t have something pressing to do, we read books, played a game, or watched a show on TV just cuddling and eating popcorn. My daughter’s favorite “date” was when I partially filled the bathtub with warm, “smelly” water (I added bath salts). We lit candles, turned off the lights, and sat on the edge of the tub with our pajama legs rolled up and soaked our feet in the water. We sat and chatted over hot chocolate.

Date Tip #2: Cook with Mom!

During the day, I would have them take turns cooking dinner with me. Not only did this give us time together but it also taught them valuable life skills. They were excited about being able to choose what we were eating that evening. My son with Aspergers especially loved this because he is very picky about what he eats. Just doing regular household chores with one child at a time was fun (especially, when we sang and danced along to the music playing on the radio while we did them).

Date Tip #3: Spend Time Outside

During the summer, my kids and I would go out into the yard and play catch. When it rained, we put on swimsuits and played in the rain. We made homemade bubbles, put up a tire swing, went for walks, rode bikes, went to ball games, to the park, and to the pool. Catching fireflies was fun as was lying out on a blanket and watching the stars.

Date Tip #4:  Run errands with the kids

Now that the kiddos are teenagers and life has gotten even crazier, I have had to change my plan of attack. They are now at sporting events, sports camps, out with friends, and working. The kids still enjoy helping dad grill or helping mom cook dinner. Having one kid run errands with me gives us great chat time. At night, we will have a bon-fire out back or have a family movie night.

Date Tip #5:  Make Time

Remember, if you wait until everyone is available, you will never find the time to spend together. Be purposeful and spend time with whatever kiddo is available at the time. Remember, every moment counts.

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Joanna Pruitt

Hey! I am Joanna Pruitt and I am a thirty something mother and stepmother to seven (yes, seven) teenagers ranging from the ages of 18 to 12 years old. I am married to the love of my life, Shawn. We have been married now for close to two years and we have never been happier. In addition to our children, we have two dogs, Tripp who is a shiba inu and Benny a shih tzu. I was a single mother of three for twelve years before Shawn and I met, and during that time, I received several degrees and am now a middle school and high school teacher. I just cannot seem to get away from teenagers! Oy Vey! It is a good thing that I love them. Check out more at my blog "Surviving Murphy's Law" at