Mommy-Daughter Time: 11 Outings that Won’t Break the Bank

by Christina Katz

My daughter remembers experiences more than things. She is quick to recall a playful adventure with a parent or a party with her pals than she is to remember time she spent alone engaged in imaginative play. She has always had a vivid imagination and plenty of toys for exercising her wildest imaginings, but the bottom line is she enjoys sharing experiences with others more than she enjoys playing alone in her room. And these are the stories she recalls over and over.

As a full-time work-at-home mom, I spend plenty of time with my daughter. But the challenge during these formative tween/teen years is to make some of our time adventurous and playful, because we’ve got logistical and practical covered on a daily basis. And since daddy is already the fun playmate and mom is already the task-master-chauffeur, we need to plan our fun or it won’t happen. So I’m sharing eleven outings moms can enjoy with daughters of any age, which require little or no planning:

1. Attend a fashion or trashion show. Every year, a collection of local schools puts on a spectacular “trashion” show, where the students design and create clothes out of recycled materials. Exposure to this show year after year is how my daughter and I got bitten by the fashion show bug. This summer, we’ll dress up and attend the real thing. My fashion-sketching daughter cannot wait!

2. Relax at a day spa. Sometimes local spas will offer discount packages based on the season or time of day. Call in advance to find out when specials are offered so you can take advantage of them. They may also offer a low-cost use of the facilities without the purchase of a suite of spa services. While you are inquiring, ask about any two-for-one or discount packages for moms and daughters. You might plant a seed for their next promotion.

3. Rediscover cruising the mall. Maybe you hate shopping at the mall. Or maybe you love it. Try to scroll back in your memory and remember how you felt about it when you were a tween and teen. Remember how your own mother’s behavior thrilled or didn’t thrill you? Now perhaps you are ready to have a grand time strolling the mall with your daughter, share mall stories from your childhood. Don’t forget to hit her favorite food court stall and all the Spencer-Gift-Like shops. You can do this, mom!

4. Go ice or roller skating. I made a bit of a fool out of myself at the local ice rink thinking I could still skate like a tween myself. So take it from me, mom, a broken arm or ankle won’t make the trip more memorable. However, if you can time your visit to a disco theme or neon skate, do it. She’ll beg to bring a friend, but make your memory first, then bring the friend next time.

5. Squeeze in a movie matinee. This works well for a spontaneous escape on an bad weather day that has you both snipping at each other. If this happens, seize the opportunity to calmly walk away and pull up the local movie show times. Then breeze back into the room and tell her you’ll call a truce, if she will go to the movies with you. Popcorn and a favorite beverage included.

6. Venture out for a transporting lunch. Think of an upscale neighborhood or part of town you’d love to explore and then target a lunch spot you’ll both enjoy. After lunch, spend the afternoon window-shopping boutiques. Sometimes it’s fun to imagine you live (and spend) in a more elite zip code, even if it’s just for an imaginary afternoon.

7. Pop in for pedicures. This is another good quickie getaway when times get tense and the chair massage is almost worth the price of the pedicure itself. Bonus idea, take her to a drugstore on the way to the salon and let her purchase the hottest new color. Then she can take care of her own touch-ups.

8. Forage for treasure at a flea market, craft show, or farmer’s market. My daughter enjoys doing this, even though you’ll never get her to admit it. The key is to make the trip about her, not me. If I am dragging her along because I am looking for something, that’s a different type of trip. But when my focus is on helping her discover what she admires, I create a more supportive and encouraging adventure. Give her ten bucks to spend on an item for herself, and ten bucks to buy enough snacks to keep you both going for a couple hours.

9. Go on a your favorite type of tour together. This could be a home tour, a farm tour, a historical tour, a bus tour, or a museum tour, just to name a few possibilities. You’ll be amazed how much more you can both appreciate the experience when it’s fueled with interesting information and stories. It’s fun and engaging to learn new things together. Suddenly architectural style jumps out at you or brush techniques become apparent. Have fun comparing notes.

10. Take the train to the city (or country). From where we live, we can take the local train to a nearby suburb and catch another local train that will take us into the city. This makes an even more interesting adventure, if we take the bus to catch the train. If your daughter ever lives in an urban area, she’ll thank you for helping her learn how to read a transportation schedule today. Have a cup of tea and a treat when you arrive at your destination and then head back home.

11. Express yourselves at an art studio. Sit side-by-side and create pots or tiles at your local glaze-it-yourself shop. Or check out other local artisan shops for an array of choices. The yarn shop may offer a basic knitting class, the bead shop likely has a bracelet-making opportunity, and the art supply may have painting or collage workshops. Be sure to do this on a day that is otherwise unscheduled, so you can relax into the experience and enjoy the creative process thoroughly. Maybe grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate afterwards to extend the fun.

I may never be as hilarious as daddy, that’s true. But I share things with our daughter my husband never will. And these conversations often happen when my daughter and I kick back, relax, and simply enjoy each other’s company.

Rite-of-passage Gifts To Give Your Daughter

• Watermelon Bonnie Bell Lipsmacker
• Love’s Baby Soft Perfume
• A training bra
• A trip to the mall to get her ears pierced
• Black or fluorescent nail polish
• Her first tube of mascara
• Body glitter
• A Magic Eight Ball
• Her own razor and shaving cream
• A strobe light or disco ball
• A pretty zippered case or micro-purse for discreet items
• A bottle of Sun-in hair bleach
• A pre-paid debit card to use with her allowance savings
• Books about understanding boys and the birds and bees

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