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20 Creative Parent-Tween Date Ideas

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to yank my tween son out of school (yes, during state testing) and bring him as my date to an incredible blogger event at Disneyland. At the risk of sounding trite, the day was pure magic.

Boy Wonder is my firstborn and for the first five years it was often just the two of us as my husband worked long hours and attended school. My son was my partner in crime, cuddle buddy, errand sidekick and anything and everything I needed him to be during that time in my life. Then a funny thing happened; he began to grow up.

Once we added another child to our family, the dynamic between us shifted. It didn’t get better or worse; it just changed.

I dropped the ball on a lot of things the moment I became the mother of two, and if I’m being really honest, I’ll tell you that I dropped the ball on him. It was easy to do. He made it easy to do. Boy Wonder was self-sufficient, good at playing alone, and having lived through my deepest depression a few years earlier, had come to understand when to leave mommy alone.

As you might imagine, I carry a lot of guilt about the “lost” years of his childhood. I wonder if it was I who caused him to grow up so fast, or whether he’s just one of those kids born with wisdom far beyond his years. All that I do know is that he rarely acts like a child. But last week he did. I saw my 10-year-old tween act, beam, shine, and scream like the kid he is Disneyland where I, too, felt like a kid again. Finally, finally, we met in the middle like kids and just had fun.

I realized then how remiss I’d been in carving out dedicated time with my tween. He’s at an age where getting him to talk is hard and getting him to smile is sometimes even harder.

As much as I wish Disneyland magic was available to us every day, it simply isn’t, so I pulled together this list of 20 creative parent-tween date ideas designed to bring you closer together!

  • Shoot pool 1 of 20
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    No, I'm not asking you to bring your child to a dive bar to shoot pool. Did you know there are actually billiards clubs that welcome kids at designated times? There are (at least in NY), so if you're looking to up your cool cred, you might want to see if there are billiards clubs in your area worth frequenting with your tween!

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Become a daytripper 2 of 20
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    Hit the open road and leave Google Maps behind! With nothing more than your tween as your guide, drive until you run out of road. Get ready for adventure!

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Start a blog 3 of 20
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    Here's where I semi go back on my word...

    Remember like a year ago when I shared 7 reasons I don't want my kid to start a blog? Of course you don't. Anyhoo, while I still have the same 7 reservations about my kid hurdling himself into the blogosphere, I love the idea of parent and tween creating a blog and sharing their collective voice together.

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Rock on 4 of 20
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    Surprise your tween with concert tickets for their favorite singer or band and go along for the ride. You know as well as anyone that you never forget your first concert. This is your chance to be part of your tween's experience!

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Fro-yo, because obviously 5 of 20
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    In the land of tweendom, there are few things my son and I agree on and frozen yogurt is one of them. Bonding over live and active cultures? You betcha and don't forget the gummy bears!

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Climb a wall 6 of 20
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    I'm like the least physical mother out there, but I can't think of a better way to bond with my tween than doing something completely outside my comfort zone. Allowing your tween to see you vulnerable and determined makes for a memorable bonding experience.

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Take a childhood tour 7 of 20
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    If geographically possible, take your tween to the house you grew up in, where you went to school, or where you met their other parent. Better still, revisit places from their own history for a drive down memory lane.

     

  • Take in a game 8 of 20
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    Take in a game, a match, a race - whatever! Just do it together and eat a lot of junk food in the process. You wouldn't be the first people to ever bond over nacho cheese and you certainly won't be the last.

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Nail it 9 of 20
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    My tween son would never in a hundred billion years join me for a mani/pedi (even though he could seriously use one), but I have no doubt that my imaginary tween daughter would love it because really, salon bonding means something.

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Learn something new 10 of 20
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    "Learn together?" my tween laments, "How is that fun?" I dunno, it just is, especially when you let your tween call the shots. While I might think Spanish classes with my tween is the maker of good times, he might consider a beginning dubstep class more his speed. Parents, this is where you throw your pride out the window and get dubstepping - together.

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Take a hike 11 of 20
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    I know, I know, here we go with the outdoors again...but nature, you guys, it does something special to a kid. There's just something about being outside using leg muscles you didn't know you had  to create a closeness you need extra protection deodorant to understand.

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Get cooking 12 of 20
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    The kitchen is absolutely the place for a tween! Not only will they quickly learn the fundamentals of cooking under your direction, they'll have great pride in the dish you've created together.

    Smart parent tip: Once your tween gets a little culinary experience under their apron, you can task them with a designated dinner night. Score one more for mom!

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Game on 13 of 20
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    Instead of dropping your tween off at the arcade while you sit in the corner and fiddle on Facebook, join in on the fun! Sure, your tween will obliterate you in every single game you play but so what? It's going to be awesome.

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Teach a skill 14 of 20
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    So maybe teaching your tween how to sew or change a car's oil isn't really a "date", but if it's something your tween is interested in learning how to do, there's nothing that says you can't make it one!

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Park it 15 of 20
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    Amusement parks are amazing for tweens for obvious reasons, but what's even more amazing is the time you'll have there together.

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Decorate? Yes, decorate! 16 of 20
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    This is the age where your tween likely hates their room because it's so "little kid" and you obviously can't have that. While a major redesign is probably out of the budget, consider compromising with your tween on a fresh and mature paint color of their choosing. Then, get painting - together!

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Visit a skatepark 17 of 20
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    Even if your tween doesn't skate, you'll both get stoked by the sick tricks you'll see.

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Beachy keen 18 of 20
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    Whenever possible, lead your tween to water. Besides the fact that the beach acts as the perfect backdrop for adorable tween-parent selfies, the ocean has this way of making each of us feel small and connected.

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Catch a flick 19 of 20
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    I know Netflix and Redbox are like a religion to you, but venturing outside the home in favor of a tween picked flick in a loud and cold theater with delightfully expensive concessions is where it's at. 

    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Go out to eat 20 of 20
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    Let your tween choose the restaurant and dine on an official date outing. Choose breakfast for dinner or eat dessert first!

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Have any parent-tween date ideas to add?

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