My 7-year-old said to his 5-year-old (soon to be 6) brother: “It’s really really fun Oliver! This Geocaching thing is really fun!”
And as any parent would expect, my 5-year-old didn’t wait for his actual date day, he wanted to go the next day! So we did. He too enjoyed his first experience Geocaching.
So what is Geocaching? I’ll talk about that in a minute. But first, let’s talk about dating.
In our family, we have had this tradition of individual parent-to-child dating for almost 2 years now. What we do is that:
- each month each child gets to go on a date with one parent on the date of his birthday. For example the child born on the 7th of June will have a date on the 7th of every month of the year with either parent.
- Mom and dad go on dates with the kiddos on alternate months. If Mom goes on individual dates with 3 boys on 3 separate days in January, dad has his turn in February. And then it will be mom’s turn again in March and dad’s in April and so on. This way, each kid gets his undivided attention at least once a month. And mom and dad only has to commit once in two months!
Our dates started off simply with an evening out with the kids to have a McDonald’s ice-cream, a walk around the many toy shops in the malls nearby, sometimes we take a ride on our scooters or bikes to explore parts of the neighbourhood that we don’t usually go to.
The objective of the dates is to allow time for parent and child to talk and be involved in an activity together.
So clearly, things like watching movies are not in our agenda. But going to the museum can be.
But as the kids grow, stuff that we have been doing are now becoming rather “boring” for them, except for our littlest one, he’s still enjoying simple dates =) So planning for dates is becoming more and more challenging but we’re not going to stop the tradition. It’s something we would want to continue doing for as long as they feel comfortable doing it with us.
Tips for Bigger Smiles on Your Child’s Face when going on Dates with them:
- Try your best to make it an “experience” date rather a “shopping” date. Experience last longer in the memory than material things do. Spending on 3 kids (or any number at all) every month for 12 months a year is not financially sound and it might give them the wrong signal about how they should be spending when they grow up.
- Do something THEY enjoy. I enjoy going to the museum but that doesn’t mean my son would. So when I go on a date with each of my children, first I let them decide where they want to go or what they want to do. Only if they run out of ideas then I give suggestions. I never force them to go somewhere or do something they don’t want to. The purpose of the date is for them to feel special and loved.
- Be More Affectionate than Usual. I love seeing the smiles when they notice that I hug them more and kiss them more, hold their hand when we go on dates. I am happy I can make them feel special. Being one out of three children is not easy for the kids. They have to share one mother and one father, often times they don’t get the attention they deserve because life and responsibilities get in the way. Bigger kids get even lesser touch from the parents because we have to spend more time on the smaller kids. So this is especially an important component of our dates. Hug, kiss, pat on the head and hold hands often.
- Keep Your Phone in Your Bag. C’mon it’s a once-a-month chance for your child to have undivided attention from you, not having to share you with their sisters or brothers! Don’t let your phone take that attention away. Please. When you have a meeting with your boss, you would most probably ignore your phone. Give your child-on-a-date that same respect. Tug the phone away in the bag and use it only in case of emergency or when you need to, but definitely not for fun or just scrolling through Facebook or instagram.
- Have more than one mini-activity. To make the date more special for the kiddos, let them have their “special moments” two or three times throughout the date. Something that we do is incorporating ice-cream into the date (that’s one), sometimes we go in for a “race” in the Arcade – that’s two – (which kid doesn’t love to race a parent?!) and have a heart-to-heart talk – that’s three – ask them anything, kids just love to talk and share with us as long as we are interested.
Ok, so back to Geocaching. Last week I was due to have my December date with my eldest. One day before the date we still had no clue how we wanted to spend the date! So that night I searched online and found a very interesting date idea. A TREASURE HUNT! And one that someone else has already left the “treasures” so you just need to go and find it!
The moment I suggested it to my eldest, he was super excited.
So what is it and how did we go about Geocaching?
Step 1: Download the Geocaching app. You can sign in with your Facebook account or set up a new account
Step 2: Search for your preferred location to treasure-hunt. Click “Start” and the app will guide you to the exact location the treasure is hidden, in this case they call it the “cache”.
About the game:
- For each cache, there will be a description of where it is hiding and hints given. Also, they will describe the surroundings if there’s something special around the area.
- When you find the cache, you are supposed to put it back exactly where you found it so that other Geocachers can look for it too.
- On the app, inform the community that you have “found it” or “did not find” and give a little comment!
- You can also hide your own cache but it has to be waterproof
Why Geocaching Might be the Best Dating Idea With Your Child
- Chance to Practice Map-Reading Skills: By “map” I meant GPS. Nowadays we use Google Map a lot to navigate cities that we are not familiar with. It’s a good chance for us to let the kids learn how to read GPS maps and follow directions.
- Chance to Lead: I let my sons lead the way. I make them feel in charge and feel that this is their game. It gives them the chance to make decisions based on what they know and where they need to go.
- Knowing the Importance of Perseverance: On our date, we decided to look for Geocache at 3 different locations. With my 5-year-old, we found the first one but we gave up on the second one after spending around 20 minutes to no avail. We also found the third cache just as we were about to give up. So it was a good chance for me to teach him that if we give up, we won’t find anything (as in the 2nd case) but if we kept on believing that we could find, we will find it.
- The Excitement Factor: Each Geocache is different from the next. It’s fun to look forward to finding something you don’t even know what it looks like. It’s a total blind search (with hints of course). It’s also fun to want to be able to actually find it.
- Kids Love Technology: I let my kids hold the phone whenever we need to refer to the GPS map to see how close we are or which direction we need to go. Kids and gadgets, they’ll never say no =) and they love to be given the authority to hold our phone!
- Kids Love Going Somewhere New With a Parent Alone: The most special thing about Geocaching is probably that they get to go somewhere new, find something together with a parent and doing things like go into bushes, crawl under the staircase on overhead bridges and climbing up to somewhere high together. They will remember it for a looooong time.
- It will Not Get Old. You can go Geocaching every other date and the kids wouldn’t mind as long as you choose a different location, or go back to the cache that you did not manage to find the last time. They love challenges!
Tips for Geocaching with a Child
- Do not go when it’s dark. My mistake was to go out after dinner with my eldest. The sun has already set but luckily we chose locations that were near the train station, in a shopping mall and near our house. But it was difficult to find the Geocaches when you can’t see much of anything.
- Follow their speed. Don’t rush them and also don’t stay too long if they do not want to look for the geocache anymore. Remember, it is supposed to be a pleasant experience, not a survival training opportunity!
- Let them hold the phone. Bonus points go to parent who let the kids hold the phone and navigate the search for Geocaches. They just love to do it by themselves!
- Be vigilant. As with any other activities, safety comes first. If you feel that the location you are at might not be safe, you can gently explain to your child why you need to change the Geocache you’re looking for and head to the next nearest one.
Well! That was a long post! But I really do hope you try this out with your kids. They’ll love it! And you will too!
For readers who are living in Singapore, there are 647 geocaches to be found on this tiny island! So get out and going!