For six years my husband and I have worked with a parenting coach. Among her many gems of advice, one that truly stands out as a game-changer for us is the concept of time in. The idea is that when kids are being less than angelic, parents should swap time out for a time in- bring them closer, love them more, hold boundaries but without alienation. It’s a method that’s worked well for us even though our daughters, now 5 and 7 years old, have long left the tumultuous toddler years behind.
Time in is about the moments where each child gets dedicated one-on-one attention with each parent, such as bedtime. It also includes a regular date night. Think about it: kids derive as much satisfaction as mom and dad do on their date night. When interactions are free from the distraction of siblings, social media and grown-up conversation, a child swells with delight.
- Winter Park
Grab a bite at The Cheesecake Factory (thecheesecakefactory.com) in Winter Park Village. Afterward, take a ride up the street, to Park Ave’s Rocket Fizz (rocketfizz.com) where you can grab a gourmet soda and a handful of retro candy. It’s sure to bring back memories from your childhood. Or, hit Rome’s Flavors, a hidden gem on Morse Blvd., for some homemade gelato.
Up the fun: SunRail has a station in the heart of Winter Park on Park Ave. Consider riding the rail if your date night is planned during the week.
- Thornton Park
Soco (socothorntonpark.com) will win over your child’s petite palette with southern-style comfort foods, such as crispy macaroni and cheese croquets and Florida sweet corn bisque. After this scrumptious dinner, wander west about a block to The Pop Parlour (thepopparlour.com), where you will find artisan ice pops in flavors such as Lavender Lemonade and Pomegranate Plum.
Up the fun: Lake Eola’s swan paddleboats are available to rent Sunday through Tuesday until 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday until 10 p.m. Cost is $15 for a half hour, no reservations needed.
- I-Drive 360
Take your pick from several terrific eateries at I-Drive 360 (i-drive360.com), the new entertainment and dining hub on International Drive. Choices include Tapa Toro, a fabulous tapas restaurant; Sugar Factory, and MTV-meets-Willy Wonka dining concept; and classic options such as Carrabba’s and Outback Steakhouse, which are nearby.
Up the fun: After dinner, check out I-Drive 360’s attractions, including the Orlando Eye, SEA LIFE Aquarium and Madama Tussauds Orlando.
PLAY Tips: Plan Small, kids don’t need an extravagant date night. They’re just as happy to head to the local pizzeria followed by a frozen treat from a favorite fro-yo spot.
Create Build Up, start talking about the date night a few days before. This will get them excited and give you the chance to share how much you’re looking forward to it, too!
Completely Unplug, all your efforts will be in vain if you check your phone all night. Don’t send the message that you’d rather be somewhere else.
Reminisce, talk about the date night afterward when you’re alone with your child, such as bedtime. Share with them how much you enjoyed the one-on-one time.
Words by Kristen Manieri
KRISTEN MANIERI is a Longwood-based mom of Elizabeth (7) and Aly (5). She is the founder and editor of the Orlando Date Night Guide, which houses hundreds of ideas and recommendations for sharing fun and meaningful quality time together in Orlando. From cooking classes to hidden gem restaurants to unique and exciting things to do, you’ll find the best of Orlando’s date night offerings inside the pages of this comprehensive online guide.