If you're a parent with more than one child, organising a family day trip can be more hassle than it's worth. Your kids either spend the whole day fighting, or they rush off to have fun without you. To make matters worse, the accumulative cost of snacks and admission fees can amount to a small fortune. Alternatively, you could try divvying up outings between each child and actually get closer to them in the process.
I have three rabble-rousing daughters at home which can make small trips a real pain in the arse. Getting everyone in the car is a trial in itself and there's usually at least one drama that needs careful defusing. By the end of the day, my wife and I feel more like exasperated babysitters than loving parents. Exasperated poor babysitters.
That was before I started taking my girls on solo outings on alternate weekends. This turned out to be a stroke of genius for several reasons:
- The kids appreciate it more: Children often feel like they're being corralled into a family day trip: it's a parent-driven initiative that they want no part of. By making the trip a one-on-one experience, it feels more exciting and special -- they'll actually look forward to their 'turn'. You can also tailor each outing to suit their specific tastes and interests.
- You feel closer: When you put two or three siblings together, the role of the parent chiefly becomes that of an authoritarian arsehole. The kids basically entertain themselves while you keep 'em in check. One-on-one outings are a lot different. Your child talks to you more. You bark at them less. The end result is that you're both actively enjoying each other's company; as it should be.
- It costs less: This is a simple case of math -- taking a single child out each weekend obviously works out a lot cheaper than everyone going together; especially when it comes to stuff like the movies. The more kids you have, the more money you'll save.
- You get to have more weekends off: While one parent is swanning about the countryside with the child-of-the-week in tow, the other parent gets to kick back at home with the remaining brood and take it easy.
The key is to ensure each child gets an equal share of trips. Obviously, the solo outing strategy wont work in every scenario and there are some trips that are better suited to the entire family (such as the beach). But try sprinkling this concept into the occasional outing: you might be surprised by how much closer it makes you with each child.