In the last post we explored mom dating. But once the kids get a little older, we are thrust back into the dating scene. This time, it’s Whole Family Dating.
Why Family Dating? Because it’s important. We all know the joy of having children can also take its toll on our social life. You know, as in meaningful contact/fun with people who don’t throw tantrums and care about something other than unicorns? It’s like free babysitting, where everyone can have fun AT THE SAME TIME. It’s almost too good to be true.
Imagine the perfect date: You go to your friend’s house, they also have two kids, around the same age as yours. After 20 minutes, you exhale. Your kids’ initial shyness wears off, your youngest leaves your lap and your oldest accepts that the visit to a new home is going to last more than a few minutes and finds something to do.
By the end of dinner the kids are playing so hard together they actually don’t want to leave. You’ve been able to have a post-dinner glass of wine with your friends and everyone is pretty dang happy.
Never mind the shit show that is about to follow on the way home, or when you get home, trying to put over-tired over-stimulated and over-sugared kids to sleep. But that comes with the outing. Kind of like the way we accepted the nausea, headache, and regret we felt coming home from the bar with friends in our previous lives.
All in all, you feel like you just had a great date, and you find yourself fantasizing about more to come.
Why was the date so good? Because there was a matching of all parts. All grown ups, all kids.
This, my friends, is the new frontier of dating—and it is so much more complicated than courting/dating that one person was.
I mean, then, we only had to connect to each other. Now, there has to be an intricate meeting of all strands. Family needs to fit family. Everyone has to match! And holy shit, that’s not simple. It’s practically a probability nightmare!
And where does this dating lead to? Not to marriage obviously, but to the ULTIMATE GOAL way more coveted than that — THE. JOINT. FAMILY. VACATION.
Now you readers out there with one kid might be reading this thinking “No problemo! If there isn’t a complete seal with each member of the family, my kid can sit on my lap, or they can play separately, or—the easiest option—they can watch a movie.”
But your kid will grow. And that just won’t be enough. Also, in order for the ULTIMATE GOAL to happen, there will need to be more chemistry than technology. Trust me.
The tricky part is this, your kid will not always get along with your favorite friends’ kid. It’s tragic when there’s no kid magic, but it happens.
My eldest is an introvert. It’s not quite that he didn’t like the other kids at dinner parties, he just didn’t care for them. He felt no motivation to bond with new kids. He had his few good friends and that’s all he felt he needed. Done, end of story. For him…
For me, that was tough. I am (clearly) NOT an introvert. I need people, I like people, I want to be liked by people. I want to be invited back.
But my oldest son never brought me friends as my other two have, just by being more social.
And now I’ll share something even more personal: my husband is an introvert too.
What does this mean? Family dating rests primarily on my shoulders. It’s up to me to do the flirting and the scheduling.
And then I need to relinquish control on the rest.
So, because this blog is about giving you practical solutions to life’s complexities with kids and not just talking about them, here are some Tune-in Tips.
This goes back to part 1 of this blog, about Mom Dating. Basically the gist is, be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be the imperfect, falling apart at the seams mom. Those are the ones we love.
This actually tends to be much more challenging than it should be. My Israeli friends tell me that in Israel playdates and family gatherings are much more spontaneous. They happen daily without any pre-planning. I am not sure what it is about our culture that makes for effortful get togethers. We are all so busy, and our kids seem to be even busier. So with the scheduling, I think we need to take a page from our more laid-back mediteranean parent friends and try to have schedules that leave some wiggle room for more spontaneous meetings.
Building on that: Are we afraid to throw out last-minute invitations? Do we feel we need to clean the house first? Prepare Pinterest-worthy snack plates? Newsflash: no one will judge you! I challenge you to throw out a spontaneous invitation, and please report back with the details.
- The Date:
It’s taken me awhile to learn this, but my son has been my teacher. We just have to let go. If it is a match, it will happen. If it isn’t, it just won’t. You might be wondering, But what if we just continue to meet with the family? Eventually the kids will learn to get along, right? No. Or maybe. But it might take a ton of commitment on your part because you may have to deal with whiny kids for a fair part of it.
Don’t give up after the first time. We have friends that we have invited for dinner but have never been invited back. Does that mean they didn’t match with us? Not necessarily! Who knows what they’ve got going on? With family dating, it can’t be tit for tat.
- Take It Down A Notch:
The ultimate date is dinner or happy hour at a family’s home. But maybe you’re still wondering if there is a match. No problem. There are other less committal dates to be had: Cake and coffee, or meeting at the playground.
Have you had an amazing family date where everyone matched? Where? What did you do? Or was it a disastrous date you’d like to have stricken from the records? Please comment below and hook up all the families in desperate need of a match!
Also – do you have a friend who needs to learn the secrets of Family Dating? Or Mom Dating? Send them this blog! Tell them they can sign up for more Tuesdays Tune Ins below.
Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!