A 70-year study came out in 2018 that listed a few keys to being a good parent — and most of them were simple matters of showing up. Just being present while talking with and listening to your child is half the battle. Sounds simple, but in the busyness of life, that connection can get lost. Parent-child “date nights” are the perfect way to connect, strengthen your bond, and make long-lasting memories. By putting a date on the calendar for one-on-one time, you’re showing your child you value spending time with them. (And whatever you choose to do, try leaving your phone at home to really make the most of your time together!)
A big “thank you” to DuPage Children’s Museum for sponsoring this article.
DuPage Children’s Museum
301 N. Washington St.
Naperville, IL 60540
Life can get busy; take time to connect with your little ones at DuPage Children’s Museum (DCM). Build, wonder, discover, think, and PLAY – the possibilities are endless for some quality one-on-one time! Explore your world through hands-on exhibits and experiences that spark curiosity, inspire creativity, and encourage new discoveries. Let your child lead the way as you make a splash in AWEsome Water, build with real tools in the Construction House, create art in The Studio, and so much more. Stand back, watch, and be proud of what they can accomplish. But don’t forget to play along yourself… You’ll be amazed by what you will learn together. Plan a visit to DuPage Children’s Museum, where you and your family will laugh, learn, and love spending one-on-one time.
Parent-Child “Date” Ideas
- Around Valentines, events all over the suburbs pop up to make kid-parent dates memorable. Check our calendar of local kids’ events to find some great options.
- Daddy-daughter dances are a staple of the season! If you’ve got a little girl who loves to dance, this will be a night to remember.
- Take a trip to an extra-special kid-friendly restaurant. As an added bonus, you’ll be teaching life skills around eating out.
- Cook dinner at home together. Let your child help choose the recipe, then shop and cook to treat the whole family!
- One of my favorite ideas for a date night with your kids: plan ahead and go shopping for coordinating outfits for the special night.
- Local theaters often run shows for all ages. Keep your eyes open and check Kidlist often for reviews and deals on the latest plays for kids. (This date will take some planning in advance!)
- Keep it simple and take your child out for a coffee (for you) and hot cocoa (for them). Le Chocolat in downtown Naperville has a very fancy hot chocolate menu and you can combine that with a trip to DuPage Children’s Museum!
- In warmer weather, check out these local coffee shops with playgrounds nearby.
- Go on a morning date and grab a coffee and donut at one of the best donut shops in the suburbs.
- Go to a game! Whether you root for the Blackhawks, the Bulls, or one of our baseball teams, a game together makes for a special memory. Grabbing a popcorn or cotton candy at the big event makes the date that much more special.
- Minor league sports are often cheaper and family-focused. Options include the Kane County Cougars, Chicago Dogs, Chicago Wolves, and more.
- For a spur-of-the-moment game, try your local high school. Kids love the up close and personal view they have and all the excitement of the teenage crowd.
- Weather permitting, take your child on a hike on some wooded trails, complete with a picnic. If you have more than one kid, this is a great chance to take things at this child’s speed.
- Try rock climbing together. Bonus if you learn to belay for one another!
- Afternoon tea time will delight fancy-loving little ones! Locally, we’ve got options including the Calla Lily Tea Room in downtown Aurora, as well as Pinecone Cottage in downtown Downers Grove. Popular Chicago destinations include The Drake Hotel, The Palmer House, and American Girl Place. Make reservations and call ahead to ensure that a children’s tea menu is available.
- Tackle a project together. Maybe it’s doing that gigantic LEGO set they got for Christmas, or taking out all the train tracks and building a gigantic route around the living room.
- Take the train together! You don’t have to go all the way downtown, either; there are plenty of kid-friendly stops on the BNSF line.
- Visit one of Chicago’s many museums with your child. Plan to visit on a free day to get the most bang for your buck; for younger kids, explore a local children’s museum. If you’ve got more than one child, it will be a treat for you to be able to focus on just one!
Not sure what would work? Try asking your child. You might be surprised to find out how they would like to spend time with you! (Rachel recently asked her son where he wanted to go for some one-on-one time, and he yelled “IKEA!”)
Lastly, your child will be happy just spending one-on-one time you. Often times, the simpler moments are the best moments. Make it special by letting them choose what you do on your date, picking out matching outfits, and hyping them up for your special alone time.
Visiting a pet store, walking through the mall hand-in-hand, or reading books together at the local bookstore are just as memorable as that $100 day at the sports game. Time is all that matters!
Our site is full of fun things to do with kids in Chicago’s suburbs for even more ideas. Let us know your favorite spots for one-on-one memories with your kids in the comments!