Hanging Out With the Kids Shouldn’t Be a Nightmare!
Isn’t it too hard to hang out with our kids in a family-friendly place where we are both happy and enjoying our time?
How many outings where there when you regretted taking your children with you/ punished them for misbehaving/ had to take them back home?
Unlike abroad, unfortunately, family and child friendly places are very limited in Egypt. The following are helpful tips which are important to consider before the actual choice of venue itself:
Before choosing your destination: decide on the purpose of the outing, set a plan, be prepared and it will be much easier to filter the places accordingly:
1- Quality time with the family:
• Quality time is one of the hardest parenting requirements because it means focused undivided attention, so be sure you want to do that and stay focused on it (which is the difficult part!!). This means that if you meet some friends on your outing you just say “hi” instead of “come and join us” or chatting for hours.
• Choose the right place for quality time and don’t be selfish with your choices. You can’t go to your favorite restaurant while you know your kids hate it and claim it’s quality time! Create a sort of family meeting to discuss your options with your spouse and children. If you do not seem to agree on anything then agree as a family on your top three places and have a draw to decide which one of them to go to.
• Be sensible about setting time limits for this outing. For example: It’s not sensible to decide to stay 4 hours in a restaurant expecting good behavior, nor to go to that restaurant when your kids have been starving for two hours already!! Choose the right time and duration of time according to your kids age (you know best).
2- A get together with your friends:
• Play it wisely: Sometimes your best friend’s child is mean or a bully or just boring. If that is the case you don’t really need to take your own child, who hates their child, and expect good manners!! Think about it yourself when you are forced to sit together with people you can’t stand! If this is doomed to happen every once in a while, then make a deal with your child. Acknowledge the fact that you know that he doesn’t prefer that other child and that you appreciate it for him having to put up with that outing and promise him that it won’t be for too long (maximum an hour)! Above all, still, don’t expect best behavior from your child; he might not be able to tolerate the situation after all!
• Choose a suitable place: Again it is not wise to choose a fancy restaurant and stay there for long hours expecting best behavior. Try to choose a place that is child-friendly.
• Set a suitable time and duration for that outing. As mentioned above, don’t start the outing when they are too tired (like around their usual bedtime or if they didn’t get enough sleep that day for any reason) or sick or hungry. In all these cases, they will be very cranky and annoying! Also be sensible about the duration of the outing depending on the place (club or cinema versus a restaurant) and your child’s age!
3- Eating out because you don’t feel like cooking today?
• The choice could be planned and discussed prior to the outing and not left as an unexpected yet unhappy surprise for your kids! Take turns during the month (for example, every week you go to the favorite restaurant for each member of the family). This being said, you’ll always have to be prepared for the unhappy members! If you are taking your younger child to his older sibling’s favorite restaurant then discuss with your younger child ways to make this outing less stressful and more pleasurable for him!! Offer ideas like taking a family board game with you so you can play together while the food is cooking or after eating. Please try to let the ipad or playing on his/your phone be a last resort!
• Again be reasonable about the duration of your stay at the restaurant. A family outing to a restaurant is never exciting for a child! Unfortunately, at a specific age, parents are never fun to hang out with and sometimes embarrassing too!
4- An outlet for the kids to vent their energy instead of staying at home and fighting with each other?
• Be honest with yourself and choose the right place for that; sitting on a comfortable chair at the cinema won’t help the kids vent their energy while riding a bike or swimming at the club are a better choice.
• Avoid asking them for gratitude and appreciation for taking them to that place! Our children are intelligent and they know our intention! At the end of the day (be honest), you are doing this to save yourself the effort of entertaining them at home or having to deal with their fights and complaints!
5- A play date for the kids with their friends?
• Usually play dates are better when the parent is not around (if you trust and know pretty well the host parents you are leaving your child with). Children tend to behave well when the parent isn’t around because they fear strangers either because they can’t expect their reaction to their misbehavior or they would like to impress them!
• Make a deal with your child before you go, stick to it and be consistent so you don’t create a manipulative monster out of your innocent child. The deal should consist of: Time for him to stay there, pick up time (it helps to give him a set alarm clock but make sure you are there on time, or call the host 15 minutes before the pickup time to give an initial heads up to your child). It’s very important here to note that when you go to pick them up, you should not surrender to the 5 more minutes plead! Lastly, logical consequences for not following the deal could be that the next time the duration will be 2 hours instead of 2 and a half hours.
• This option gives you time so invest it in having your “you time” where you get to pamper yourself. Have your nails done, go to a spa or read an interesting book, spend quality time with another family member or run your postponed but urgent errands like dealing with a decayed tooth at the dentist.
Noha is a certified Health Coach by Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and a passionate mother of two. Through her blog, she hopes to empower families and parents to lead a healthy, happy and well balanced life inside out.