Take A Roll Of Quarters For Gumball Machines:
Often in life, I’ve found that problems give way to opportunities, which is how I discovered this date. After years of dates with my children, I’ve found those gumball machines at the store’s entrance to be an obstacle to our dates. We will have a great date, only to pass one of those at the end and, unfortunately, it can be a game-changer. Sometimes I’ve had quarters, but others I don’t have change or any cash at all. I’d like to tell you that I have perfect children that say, “No problem, Dad, we’re having such a great date! It’s okay!” But that’s not really how it goes. My kids aren’t spoiled by any means, but there’s something so enticing to a four- or five-year-old about those machines. They don’t ask most of the time, but when they do, it can quickly change a mood if no change is available.
One night I was on a date with my then four-year-old, and this happened, but it gave me an idea. What if we set aside one date to find and go around to these machines? I told my son about my idea, and his face lit up. Sometimes we overcomplicate our time with them when taking a roll of quarters for gumball machines, and a little adventure is just as good as anything else. This date also allows us as parents to look for a unique solution to the troubles in raising our children. They may appear only rarely, but sometimes silver linings can be found in those tears. This date is simply that.
It’s as simple as stopping by your bank and picking up a roll of quarters, or perhaps putting some aside in a sandwich bag at home. I’ve found that having a little tote bag for your kids to put their loot in also helps. You may want to set the limits for the amount of candy they can have before you go, as most of these machines put out candy. We got some cheeseburgers while we were on our date, but just going to the various machines is fine, too.
WMTDS (What Makes This Date Special):
This is one of those dates where simplicity is king. You may drop $100 on a date with your kids, and they may not remember it as much as this one. They’re just like us in so many ways in that it’s the simple things in life that can matter so much. To them, this is also an adventure, which makes the journey priceless and unique.
The effect that candy can have on their teeth.
Buying good-value products versus cheap products (not always defined by cost).
There are some good seeds to be planted in your kids’ young minds on this date. Keeping the conversation appropriate to their age range, you still can have good dialogue around, for instance, the cause and effect of how candy and other sweets impact their teeth. Parents often harp on good brushing habits, but we may not always do a good job explaining what’s going on when kids eat a lot of sweets. This is also a great date to introduce conversations about money with your little ones. I recommend explaining to keep their expectations low because what they buy that evening might not last very long. You can begin to have conversations about different types of things you buy and how spending money on cheap things doesn’t allow you to purchase quality items.
If you have one of those pizza and game places in your town, you can do arcade games there as well. This allows you to go to one location and stay there. My children have loved those places and playing the games, but, honestly, we’ve got more “stuff” out of $10 at various gumball machines than $10 has ever gotten us at those places.
As many quarters as you’d like.
No planning needed.
For a list of other ideas on how to spend one-on-one time with your child, see the full list here.